A/N - This chapter isn't heavy on any kind of 'action'. There's lots of talking and it's a long chapter. Boring, I know! But these things must be said in order to continue the story.
What You Think You Know
"I think if they can't get their shit together we should just send troops there and bomb them all straight to hell," said John Granger, one of TalkLive's panel members. "I mean, am I right or am I right?" he asked the live audience.
The audience responded with raucous sounds of approval as another member, the very flamboyant Erick Hargrave, quipped, "Oh please! Seeing the events of their past, and now their present, getting bombed is no big deal."
Everyone laughed at that as another member, Amber Stone said, "Everyone talks about their strengths and their abilities like they're these indestructible beings. But we've seen from the latest events, weapons are the great equalizer."
"Are you all actually advocating killing all Vulcans, even Syrranites, for the actions of their violent brethren?" asked panel member Marcus Berratus.
"A Vulcan is a Vulcan," said John Granger. "At least those V'Toshers are out in the open about what scum they are. It's the Syrranites we have to worry about. We don't know a damned thing about them, what they're planning and what they really think and feel," he said with passionate conviction. "They act like they can control everything happening around them so much and now come to find out, they can't even control the events on their own planet!"
"I tell you what," said Erick Hargrave. "This bombing stuff is a front. I say it's a grand inside job."
"Oh, for real?" asked Amber. "I'm sorry, but I can't even agree with that one."
"Think about it! They bombed everything and everyone else. Of course, they're not like Terrans where they're going to respect each others' lives! But they didn't bomb the children? What kind of crap is that? That's so obviously an inside job. Real terrorists don't spare children!"
"Okay, now you're going into some serious conspiracy theory shit," said Amber Stone as she shook her head.
"Why do you watch this crap?" asked an exasperated Amanda as she sat down to breakfast. The last thing she wanted to hear while eating a meal was this terrible talk about her adopted people.
Sarek answered, "We need to be aware of what the Terran world is truly thinking, Amanda. We must be prepared at all times for all eventualities no matter how unpleasant it may be to hear it."
She couldn't argue with that logic, but it didn't mean she had to stick around for it. "Well if you'll excuse me I'm going to have breakfast with the girls. It's Saturday morning and for once Maya is free."
"I shall see you later, my wife," he said as he sat in rapt attention and memorized every inflection of every word said by each of the panel members as well as the reactions of the live audience.
"Well?" asked Amanda and Dana as they looked at Maya excitedly.
She shook her head that Saturday morning. "No. I'm not pregnant." To her own shock, Maya found herself tearing up and then her shoulders began to shake as she started crying.
"Maya!" Dana said. "No, oh God, please don't cry!"
"Do you want to talk about it?" Amanda asked using the line Maya always used with her.
"I just- I shouldn't even be upset," she admitted. "I don't know why I'm upset. It's not like it was on my timetable for now."
"You have a right to feel however you feel," said Dana.
She sighed and took a deep breath. "I'm sorry I cried," she said as she wiped her eyes. "I know it wouldn't be in my best interests to have any children right now anyway."
"Especially with everything that's been happening," said Amanda. "We're scared to death for the kids we've already got."
"And T'Pau will kill you if you do get pregnant," Dana reminded her.
Maya started laughing through her tears. "Shut up, guys," she laughed even harder and then all three of them were laughing.
"Oh, I've got gossip, gossip!" said Dana exaggeratedly, trying to get Maya's mind onto something else. "Speaking of creating things while horizontal, guess who finally did the deed!"
Amanda laughed as she said, "Oh, it is so obvious you're talking about Zurel and Mariana."
"It's about time!" Dana said as she nodded rapidly. "Oh to have that first time with a Vulcan all over again," she said and then sighed.
"Well everyone's back with their significant others," said Amanda. "Except for Patricia. She finally left Soryn."
"What?!" both Maya and Dana exploded at the same time.
"He lost his damn mind- literally. And not in the Time of Mating sense, either," Amanda informed them.
"Well we all saw him going down that path," said Dana on a sad sigh. "But it's still depressing anytime I hear about a marriage breaking up, especially the kinds that we all have. There are barely any of us as it is. We've already got so many strikes against us. But we're supposed to be in it with each other against the world, you know? So for it to come from within the marriage? That's seriously discouraging."
"Her Thought Crime isn't lifted. She can't come back here, so where is she now?" asked Maya. "You know she can't stay on Vulcan. The moment he can, he's going to go looking for her."
"Zurel took Mariana to Terraso Segundo and they took Patricia along with them. They're sharing a place for now since Mariana's Thought Crime is still in effect and she can't come here either. It's only two days away by warp drive, so Zurel will be able to go there once or twice a month and spend some time with her."
"That's good," said Maya. "They have each other and you know Mariana's attached to little T'Zanne."
"I wish they could be here with us," said Dana.
All of the ladies agreed almost sadly, but said nothing else on the subject.
Turan stuck his head into the room at that point. "Ladies, the special council has convened and shall issue a statement within the hour. We must all attend. Lady Amanda, you are to stand with Sarek at his side while he takes questions from the reporters after the statement."
All three Terrans quickly stood, leaving their breakfasts sitting right where it was, half eaten. Amanda quickly made it past Turan and out of the door. As Dana reached her husband, she put out her two fingers and paused there with him as their fingers met. He looked down at Maya and stopped her before she could leave the room. "I must inform you both," he said.
Maya and Dana both looked at him, askance. He obviously didn't want to tell them what he needed to. "Turan, what's the matter?" asked Maya.
He looked down at his wife. Dana now looked concerned. "Whatever it is, we won't slap you, Turan. You're just a messenger," she tried to joke.
He swallowed. "You must put in your first public appearances this day."
"Just like that?" Dana halfway protested.
Maya felt like someone had taken her, shaken her and then spun her around in rapid circles. "But it's too soon. And why now of all times?"
"I am more than simply a messenger. I regret to inform you that it was my idea as well as Zymak's that you should do so."
"Now I might slap you!" declared Dana to her husband.
Maya found herself having to hold in laughter. "I'm sure you and Zymak had a really good reason for suggesting this."
"You had better have a good reason for suggesting this!" Dana charged.
"Zymak thinks that for the sake of Vulcans watching the press conference here and back home the two strongest clans must be represented in full. The S'Chn T'Gai are overwhelmingly represented here at the embassy. But-" he paused.
"But T'Niye's clan is not," finished Maya. "The S'Vth T'Len have no one here but you and Dana." The rest of the piece of the puzzle fit into place in her mind at that moment. "It's because she took me to Mount Seleya, too. That's why I have to go out there today. I understand now."
"But you do not yet understand my reasoning," said Turan. "The press have maligned you publicly. There have been allegations cast about your true role in Sarek's House. They are suspicious of Vulcans and our motives, all that we do, especially Syrranites. They find our natures too closed. If you stand at your husband's side, they will know your true role in the house is as Sarek has stated, his ward and wife of his kinsman."
"At least we hope they'll think that," said Maya as she nodded. "But I would appreciate being seen in public with Sokam and at least having that rumor put to rest."
"Go now and ready yourself," he said.
"Good luck!" Dana called behind her on her way down the hall. "Here I am, feeling badly for Maya. I have to go get changed and trotted out in front of the press, too. Ugh!"
Amanda was sweating. She had never had to attend one of these press conferences before as far as Vulcan was concerned. Sarek had always done these things on his own. She was, however, used to being in view of the press since she was the daughter of one of the highest generals in the imperial fleet.
She had already jumped into the shower and put on fresh robes and wore the standard of both The House of Sarek and the S'Chn T'Gai.
Marta came in and asked, "Will Spock be attending?"
"Absolutely not!" she said.
"Very well, Mandy," her old nanny smiled at her. "Don't be nervous. You'll do just fine."
"The good news is I don't have to say anything. The bad news? I know the press corps are going to be asking me questions. When I don't say anything in answer it's going to be construed as one of two things: I'm an aloof bitch or I'm being mind controlled into submission… well I can be quite a bitch when I have to be," she tried to joke, but the laugh never escaped her. She wasn't feeling very good about this at all.
"Wife?" Sarek said as he showed up at the doorway, "you are ready?"
"Yes," she sighed nervously.
"We will hear the statement of the council, first. You will, therefore, have time to compose yourself further. And also Maya and Dana shall be accompanying you. You will not be the sole Terran on the platform with me today."
"For what?" she asked, horrified.
"Maya is of my house and clan. It is important that she stand with Sokam at this time. And Dana is a member of T'Niye's clan. She will stand with her husband. It is imperative they are represented."
"I grew up in the public eye so I know what it is to be photographed and to deal with the press. I know how to wear a benign smile on my face. But not them! They aren't ready for this."
"They shall have to be. What is, is and this is necessary."
Amanda shook her head as she put her fingers in his. "Let's go and get this over with."
They all stood together, ready for the speech from Vulcan's council chambers. Amanda noticed, briefly, that Maya wore the standards of both the House of Sarek and the S'Chn T'Gai clan just as she did. But the clasp holding her head covering closed was a small metal insignia of the S'Vth T'Len clan. Sokam stood next to his wife, held her fingers in his. His eyes lingered on Maya's side profile for a second before he turned his attention to the view screen they were all waiting for to activate.
Dana was further in the back of the room with Turan, one squirming twin each in their arms. She wondered if they would bring the babies out with them when the press asked Sarek questions. She doubted it, knowing the kind of mother Dana was.
The insignia of the Joint Council of Vulcan High Command appeared on-screen. That sign was the precursor to the statement that was about to be made in the next two minutes. Whoever made the announcements about the latest wave of violence had been most likely picked by the Joint Council to do so most likely because of advanced age.
Sure enough, an aged council member who wore the robes of a V'Tosh clan appeared onscreen and immediately began to speak, "Citizens of the Empire, whether you be Vulcan, Terran or any other people under his Imperial Majesty, the Emperor, may he live long and prosper, I speak to you on this day on behalf of the Joint Council of Vulcan High Command.
"I am councilmember Taranon, and I deliver this statement to you this day on behalf of that joint council, being duly elected and accepted to this position precisely 60 years, three months, one week and five days ago:
'The joint council and the people of Vulcan are taken unawares and astounded at the recent violence that has marred our world. Many years ago a partition was put in place on our planet to ensure that those who wished to follow the philosophy of Surak could do so in peace. For those who did not wish to follow his words as precisely, or in fact at all, the partition made a place so that they could live and be together and not suffer the effects of full conversion or pressure to convert. Until recently, this partition has been nominally successful. Those who did not wish to remain on either side have not been prevented from leaving and joining their brethren on the other side.
'Recently, a faction calling themselves The Purge has come to our attention as the originators of this disruptive and life stealing violence. The goal? To galvanize the entire planet into returning to the wholesale violence of our past.
'The Joint Council reminds the average citizen that though the Syrranites have respected the wishes of the V'Tosh Ka'tur over so many centuries and have not gone on a campaign of forced conversions, it would seem this faction, The Purge, wishes not to respect the wishes of those who hold to Tu-Surak, or The Way of Surak. It would be logical at this time to point out several obvious facts: Nearly 70% of this planet's population espouse to the ways of Surak or are in the process of converting to the ways of Surak. This means the portion of the population that wishes to hold onto the past of our warrior ways has starkly diminished over time. It is not logical to force a majority of a population to return to ways they do not wish to see or act upon again.
'Since it is the wish of the council to hear the voice of the people, we shall announce a date for elections. Each citizen over the age of ten years will be given a vote to determine if we should allow a return to our past ways or if we should continue in the way that things are at this moment in time. From the outcome of that election, the council will then make its decision.
'For the time being, because the violence of our world has been so swift and unyielding and those not of our world found themselves caught in the last attack at the space port, martial law is being enacted by his Majesty, the Emperor. It is only logical that the needs of the many be protected from the wishes of the few.
'The Joint council supports this measure since it will free up our internal agents to investigate and pursue those guilty of so many innocent deaths. Citizens of Vulcan, we ask that you cooperate to the fullest extent possible. Though there shall not be many troops on the Syrranite side of the world, rest assured the V'Shar shall always have your best interests in mind. A curfew will be set in place after the next two standard Vulcan days so that you may attend to whatever adjustments must be made to your schedules to ensure the transition to martial law is as smooth as possible. We ask that you take advantage of this gap in time wisely.
'When order is once again established on this world, the empire's troops will withdraw from our soil which is only logical. This concludes the statement by the Joint Council of Vulcan High Command."
But the councilmember did not deactivate the link or step away from the podium. Instead, he faced the camera and said, "I, councilmember Taranon, wish to make a statement of my own at this time.
"I have lived on Vulcan my entire life on the V'Tosh Ka'tur side of the partition. Until the attacks I never considered the true meaning of my life or those who have come behind in my lineage. I am old and I reflect much in my old age. And I have decided that from this day forth I shall pursue a full conversion to Surak. The events that have unfolded due to the violence of The Purge has shown me that survival can be had only with the full banishment of violence. I thank you for your time. Live long and prosper," he said with his hand in the ta'al and then he left the podium. The view screen deactivated.
Amanda's mouth almost dropped open in shock and she looked up at Sarek. "What the-" she whispered. But she couldn't find words to express her shock over everything she had just heard. She shook her head. "Martial law?" she whispered. "By the empire? Until further notice?"
Sarek was not surprised. He had begun calculating these odds, among many others, in his head the moment the first of these attacks ripped through his world. But what would they have to do to get things under control in order to make the empire's troops leave? That concerned him very deeply.
All of the children were quickly secured in their nursery schoolroom along with Nanny Marta, the Master and a slew of bodyguards.
The embassy was then swept and cleared to receive the press in the barely used press room. The podium was already set up for Sarek to begin receiving questions, but none of the embassy staff or living occupants was yet present. They were waiting for the various members of the press corps to finish entering and setting up their respective equipment.
The members of Vulcan's embassy staff that would attend the conference were on the other side of a curtain, not yet ready to go out there and be seen. Dana and Amanda watched Maya standing with members of her security as Shin and Zymak spoke to one another about something. Sokam then appeared and the other two men disappeared along with the rest of her security.
It was time, then, for them all to go out on stage together.
"Let's go do this dog and pony show," Dana said miserably.
The moment everyone walked out in front of the press, the Terran wives could feel the suspicion and hatred oozing off of most of the press corps toward the Vulcans. Sarek approached the podium while the rest of the staff attending the conference took their places and remained behind him.
Amanda stood just off to the right and back of him, two security men on either side of her. Various personnel from the embassy were there and off to the far left was Maya standing next to Sokam, her face not exactly emotionless, but it was calm. Dana stood on the opposite side of the stage with Turan, her hands clasped behind her back lest the fumbling of her fingers betray her nervousness.
Pictures and instaReel were being taken as Sarek stood there and composed his thoughts for five seconds. "Members of the press," he began, "I am certain you have viewed the same statement by the representative of Vulcan's Joint High Command. If there are questions at this time, I am open to answering them to the best of my abilities. Keep in mind, however, that I am not fully privy to all information held by my government."
The press line immediately began shouting for attention. Sarek extended his hand to a man directly in front of him and nodded.
"Mr. Ambassador, how do your people feel to be occupied by the Empire?" was the first rapid question thrown his way.
"As for the members of the V'Tosh Ka'tur side of the planet, I cannot speak for their particular mood. However, the Syrranite's will allow what is necessary so that the threat to our planet may be removed."
"But you didn't answer, how does that make you feel?" the man persisted.
"We do not discuss such matters, even among ourselves since we do not feel," Sarek said dismissively and then motioned to another man off to the right of the stage.
"Mr. Ambassador, your planet is about to be occupied. Is there no outrage that these aliens are coming to trample on your soil?" asked the next reporter.
"Outrage is an emotion," Sarek answered. "You may ask the next question," he nodded at a young lady in a long skirt.
"We can't help but notice today that you have brought out the Terran women that live here at the embassy. Is there a reason for this?"
"They are here to show support to their husbands."
"Would they be willing to answer a few questions for us today?" asked another man without having been given permission to speak first.
Sarek answered, "Our wives are here as a show of support and they are not at this time prepared to answer any questions."
"Lady Amanda!" another pressman shouted from the back, "What is it like to live with people that don't feel or show anything?"
Sarek immediately said, "She who is my wife did not come here this day to answer any questions," in his usual cool manner. "Are there any further questions about the statement offered this day by Councilmember Taranon?"
"Do you think the violence of The Purge will spill out onto the rest of the galaxy?" asked a sober looking young man with serious eyes.
"Your question is logical," Sarek complimented him. "Since the The Purge cares solely about Vulcan and its concerns, there is no reason for them to spread violence elsewhere. If their aim was to have Vulcan destroyed then they would follow through with such foolish actions. I have no reason to believe they have that aim. Next question?" he pointed at another reporter.
"What is Vulcan doing to find these terrorists?" asked a petite lady reporter with medium brown hair.
"I am not a member of Vulcan's intelligence community, therefore I do not know what steps they are taking at this time to track down the perpetrators of these heinous deeds. However if I were aware of the exact methods, it would not be at all logical to air that methodology in finding them, would it?"
Some of the press actually laughed out loud at that answer. Several more questions were asked including some of the press corps that became insistent that they be allowed to ask the female Terrans questions during the conference, but in the end they left without what they truly wanted. To hear the Terran women speak directly to them.
It was late. Amanda was finally asleep. She had been agitated all day, but she had been unwilling to discuss her emotional state with him. He supposed, at first, she was upset because of the excitement of the statement made by the joint council and the press conference afterward. He knew, though, by the end of the night, she was truly troubled by the press and their curiosity about her and her friends.
He made his way down to his office where Zurel was waiting along with Zymak. The agent had arrived at the embassy the night before and had been waiting to speak with him in private ever since then. Now he had the time.
As soon as he entered, Zurel activated a dampening field around the office so no listening devices could penetrate or even function from within the field itself.
"Do you think this precaution necessary?" asked Sarek.
Zurel only nodded once and then looked over at the agent. Zymak nodded at Zurel in return and said, "Your wife, Lady Mariana, and the Lady Patricia are well. I was able to briefly see to their welfare before I warped here after leaving Vulcan."
"I thank you for that courtesy," said Zurel.
Sarek asked, "You have news of your investigation into my concerns?" he asked.
Zymak did not want to be the one to deliver what needed to be said. "I have been able to conduct my own investigation into the case of your deceased sister. And I have determined that her death was in fact an accident. T'Pau did not kill the child or have her killed, though her actions did lead to the hastening of her death in that she sent her far from home with no hope of return. Since the child was of heightened telepathic ability, she was given to that other clan in return for certain things. But since she did not live, T'Pau was never able to reap the benefits of the child's betrothal.
"The other clan was not at all cruel toward T'Maya, but they were quite cold and dismissive toward her and oftentimes left her on her own for long periods of time. The male given her as a bond mate also did not ever attempt to contact her telepathically since he was a mere boy of 7 and did not at all see the need to do so since he still resided with his family and peers. Hypertelepaths as children need specialized care and she was not provided with this care. I do not fully know whether these are the reasons that led to her attempting to cross such a vast desert on her own. It was a journey of nearly four weeks and she was able to survive the first fourteen days on her own. I am sorry to tell you of these things."
But it was what he had wanted. Answers. And now he had them concerning T'Maya. At least that part of him could rest now that he knew that she had not been killed on purpose by T'Pau. "And what of our Maya now? What of T'Pau's role in her being injured in her own home?"
Zymak's eyes took on a strong cast. "T'Pau is directly responsible for what happened, but I have no solid proof. I have only what I took from the mind of another while he was sleeping."
Sarek should not have been shocked that the agent was able to do such a thing. "Do you have any further information concerning that?"
"At this time, I do not. I only know that she should stay clear of the clan mother until such time as she no longer deems her a threat. She must, however, redouble her efforts at controlling her emotions since T'Pau will attempt to use them against her soon. I can give you no more information than that."
"If there is some further threat-" Sarek said, unable to understand exactly what the agent was trying to say.
"It concerns our planet," said Zymak. "I am still an agent of the V'Shar and I have an oath to uphold. And until I resign my commission with them, I shall protect the secrets of our world."
"This has to do with the attacks, does it not?" asked Zurel who had, up till then, been quiet. "You are aware of something critical."
"I am," Zymak did not deny it. "And so is the council. And I have been sworn to silence by them as have all the V'Shar and so I shall say nothing. And given my training, the information cannot be taken from me even by force. I do not agree with not speaking of what I know, but I must maintain my honor in this way and say nothing at this time while I remain an agent."
"You know who they are," said Zurel in almost awe. "You know who is responsible for the attacks."
"What the V'Shar knows and does not know is not up for discussion. What we uncover, we deliver first to the council and they issue orders. We then follow those orders."
"This is a dangerous business," said Sarek. "Are you certain you wish to remain within their ranks?"
"I have no choice. Until what must happen occurs, I can do no other than be what I was trained to be," he said with true regret in his eyes. "After all has happened, I may then leave safely with no threat to my life."
Zurel and Sarek simply looked at one another. "The life of an agent," said Zymak, "is fraught with peril at every turn. It is the life that was chosen for me at a very young age by he who was my father. Very much in the way of your T'Maya who was given because of her gifts, I also was given. And I have willingly given of myself to my detriment at every turn for my planet and people, both Syrranite and V'Tosh Ka'tur. The only warning I may give you now is that things on Vulcan, life as we know it, shall soon change drastically. But when the change occurs there will be no questions left in anyone's mind, and the Empire's troops will be able to withdraw once and for all."
"This change," said Sarek, "it will be permanent?"
"Indelibly permanent," Zymak said, trouble concealed within him.
A/N - I am working my tail off to make certain to update twice in November, maybe even three times. Things are coming to a head and I'd rather have it available to the readers sooner rather than later. This part 2 of my Mirror tale is almost done. I'd like to give a hearty and true thanks for all who've come along for the ride! - J. Shane