Chapter I. An Old Man's Memories.
I am an old man now, my life has passed. Unlike Terrans or their ilk that may live a century, even when you have a life span of more than a thousand years, the time still flies by unabated as if it is a raging fire, consuming all in its path. I have no complaints; my life was full of heartfelt memories on many worlds. The regrets are few; the thoughts of the good times sustain me now at the twilight of my life. Unlike many of the races of men in the galaxy, I do not fear death. I recall from reading many works of literature, a character in a book from Earth, who remarked that "Death is not the end, but a passing". So I look with longing to board the grey ships sailing into the west and cross the seas to the white shores of the undiscovered country. Soon happy death I will meet thee and be reunited with my beloved. Her loss a half century ago has left a hole in my soul that even my favorite child, my dear daughter T'Pol Thoris T'Naa, cannot mend. This morning as I start the writing of my memories at the suggestion of my eldest daughter, Cozetta Angelina T'Naa, the laughter of the grandchildren of my daughters at play outside the villa drifts in and distracts me from my task. As I look out the windows of my home, the sight of Greater Helium and its spires greet me. The verdant green of Barsoom with it smell of the sea is such a contrast from when I arrived here several centuries ago. But I muse too much and ramble, perhaps an old man's memories should start at the beginning….
I was born in the year 5007 Anno Regina in the Latin Empire on the planet my ancestors called Hellas that orbited the star Rigel Kent also known as Alpha Centauri A of the trinary star system. My father was Gratius Marcellus Linux; he was a Latin of pure blood: brown haired, tall, and fair skinned with eyes the colour of the sea, a sure indicator of having a Latin mother, rather than an outer worlder. In our society, it did not really matter what race your mother was, we had no qualms about mixing our genes with other races or even other human species. That explains why my mother was dark, with pointed ears, arching eyebrows, had the name T'Naa and came from the planet Vulcan. Her brown eyes had somehow mesmerized my father when he was an agent of The Empress and had diplomatic missions to that hot, arid world. She must have been intrigued by Terran-looking men with blue-green eyes because to hear her tell the story, she sensed a mating bond at the first sight of my father. Thus she knew immediately that he was to be her husband. Also, since we are a matriarchal society with an empress and never a king, jeddak, or emperor, she probably felt that it was an advantage to defy her parents and leave with my father to his world. Father always teased Mother that he, like his younger brother, preferred women with pointed ears and his secret name for her was Elve Maid.
In typical Latin fashion, she became the mistress of the household with a powerful husband who enforced her logical Vulcan views on raising children. I was her second born and first son. I had a sister, Lucia T'Naa Marcellus, two years older than I. I was named Marcus T'Naa Marcellus. Our household consisted of my father's grandparents, Mother, Father, Lucia, and I. My great-grandparents were named Adela Marcellus Acca and Ignatius Aidia Bellona. Latin custom made my mother the mistress of the house which she would keep until my sister matured and married. Once wed and out of the military, Lucia would become the matriarch of the home.
Five years after my birth, a war with the Klingons ensued and pulled my father from our estate for several years. Our empire looking primitive from the skies was not, much to the displeasure of the Klingons. Our troops eventually defeated them and quelled their plan of expansion and conquest. So during this period, Lucia and I were playmates and confidents for almost five years while Father was away. Mother and my great-grandparents, along with many of the other women of our village, were required to aid the Elders in our education in the arts of combat and war. Our empire was not an aggressive expanding horror. We studied war and combat to provide for the defense of our planetary systems. I did not really enjoy getting beaten by Lucia in either hand-to-hand combat or in swordsmanship. But being female and two years older, she matured faster. I knew she never liked striking me and never hit with real relish. But for a Latin boy, it was an embarrassment to be continually bested by your older sister. Yet, why I cared I do not know since probably most of us had older sisters that defeated us as we trained with various weapons and learned self-defense techniques. When we boys reached twelve years of age, we were no longer allowed to spar with our sisters because of our testosterone development.
Besides warfare and defensive techniques, we had to study our history and learn Latin, Greek, and Aramaic, the common languages of the empire. Because Mother was a Vulcan, Lucia and I studied her history, culture and learned to read and write her native tongue. Although everyone could speak Latin fluently, if your mother was an outer worlder then you used her language as the house language, thus Father, Lucia and I spoke Vulcan in the home. My great-grandparents did not speak Vulcan so well when I was young but they eventually become fluent also. We studied the great writers of our history and the writers and history of the third planet from the star known as Sol. It was in our history that when the Creator made the universe, the star called Sol, though seemly insignificant, would foster populations on three planets and several moons and significant spiritual events would occur there. We traced our own Latin lineage back from the Terrans and looked upon the ancient Greeks, Romans, and the Celts as our ancestors if not in blood then at least in spirit and thought. Legends from long ago, before we had a written language or recorded history, hinted at our being mixed Terran and Elve blood. We were light skinned and fair of hair and had longevity of a thousand years or more and seemingly quit aging at about thirty years. Our genes were strong. Our home world was twice the size of Earth or Amtor and caused us to have dense skeletal structures and strong lean muscle masses.
But enough, an old man rambles on again. Most of you reading know the history of our people. You are aware that our race came to encompass many star systems and became the dominant intelligent species on many planets in the galaxy.
My tale started on a farm near a small village in the southern hemisphere of Hellas. The home and property of the House of Marcellus had been handed down from mother to daughter for fifteen generations after its establishment in 300 A.R. Father received it from our grandmother once he returned from Vulcan with T'Naa as his spouse. Once Lucia was born my mother, T'Naa became the Mistress of the House and it was renamed the House of T'Naa-Marcellus. The estate was green and fertile with gently rolling hills and many trees; it sat close to a small clear river named Evinos. This river divided the property into a north third, with the remainder on the south side. So, if we went to the fields to sow or harvest or to pasture our flocks, we had to cross a foot bridge that Great-grandfather had constructed when he first arrived on the estate sometime around 4400 A.R.
Yet now Father was gone, as were three-fourths of the men of warrior age. So being only eight years of age and Lucia nearly ten, we were expected to spend half the day helping on the land. Each family unit throughout the empire was agrarian. We all lived on small farms, raising our own food, tending to the land to keep it in harmony with nature. So it was ingrained into our people that labor was rewarding and simplicity necessary as to not deplete the resources of your home world. Although Great-grandfather Ignatius was over nine hundred years old, he still looked youthful and spry and he oversaw the farming operations and aided Mother in the planning and management of our estate. Since it was in the spring, we were planting. I remember thinking that the water of Evinos laughed as it flowed past Lucia and me as it slowly meandered northward to eventually merge with the river Eurotas just past our home village of Kolir.
"Not like that Marco," snapped Lucia in crisp Vulcan less patient with me than usual. "You are planting them too deep. If they fail to sprout, Ko-mekh will make us do it over again."
"Luci, I know what I am doing," I replied somewhat irked. Since Father had left, Lucia had become almost unbearable at times. She seemed to think she was standing in Father's stead in his absence. If Great-grandfather was not around, like this morning, then she always assumed the role of leader. Since she was older and as I had noted we were matriarchal, it was accepted that this was the way of things. Yet since I was so young, I often resented my older sister.
Lucia glanced at me; I wondered what she was thinking. She smiled.
"I'm sorry Marco; I miss Sa'mekh so much. He has been gone so long. I get short with you."
She came over by my side and gave me a sisterly hug. Funny, how she seemed so much like Mother. Mother's Vulcan heritage showed on Lucia much more than me. Lucia's ears were pointed and her eyebrows, though auburn, were arched like Mother's. Lucia was tall for almost ten years old and stood a head taller than me. She had dark auburn hair, olive coloured skin like Mother's, only in a lighter hue. Lucia had a hint of Father's face in a feminine way with the very noticeable feature of bright blue eyes. Yet mother's appearance was also evident. Long trusses escaped her straw hat covering her head. If she was to be transported to my mother's homeworld, even the resident Vulcans would believe her to be a full blood, not a rish-ha-vel, their term for a mixed blood.
She so reminded me of Mother in her ways. I forgave her; I could never stay mad at her. Besides, if I did, I may not get to see her friend, Drusilla D'Nare Crotus, the eldest daughter of the neighboring estate.
Drusilla's father, Julius Crotus Augustin, was a little younger than our father, perhaps two hundred forty years old. He had been on patrol ships in his pre-married days, providing security aboard an interstellar craft patrolling the edges of the empire to protect against incursions by raiders of various other worlds. In those adventures, he chanced to encounter an Orion woman, Arvi D'Nare, she was named. They were married two years before Mother and Father. Like Father, Julius had no sisters, so Arvi was the mistress of the estate. So Arvi's household consisted of Julius, his parents, grandparents, and daughter, Drusilla.
Curiously, Orions are not long lived like us, they do live about as long as Vulcans, but once married to Julius, Arvi seemed to change. Mother said it was the marriage rites and genetic sharing; it seems to change the internal physiology and the outward appearance of the non-Latin females that our men took as wives. Their aging slowed, matching their spouse. They would appear to be about thirty years of age and not apparently physically age. Their health improved because immunity to disease, toxins and sickness strengthened. I did not understand this. I asked Mother if her physiology had changed. Father was over two hundred fifty years old, but looked the same as when he was thirty and mother was only thirty five years of age when they eloped from Vulcan. She said yes her body had changed. Mother told me if I or Lucia took a non-Latin as a spouse when we were of age, the same would occur. I probably would have a mate of a different race or culture, since a curious thing about our people was that the rate of boys born to girls was two males to one female. So, eligible females to marry were difficult to find on our home worlds. We as a race and culture were like Vulcans or Elves, always monogamous. Thus unfortunately for us males, female Latins were very selective in whom they chose to wed. Because once mated, the bond was for the rest of your life. Generally if one spouse died early, the other would soon follow due to heartbreak.
Now in hindsight, it is evident to me that our biology was designed to allow for the spread of our race across the galaxy. In mating with non-Latins, our bodies would pass genetic codes that affected the non-Latin spouse. It was a strange but simple biological design that allowed for our race to be fertile with other close species of mankind. This resulted in our ability to outlive and assimilate other races into our culture. 'Latinizing the planet' was what it was commonly referred to by The Empress. I make it sound as if only males of our race intermarried with non-Latins. Generally that was true due to the preponderance of boys born. Yet it was not uncommon for Latin women to marry other races, but as I said they were very selective. We, as a race, embraced diversity in mating because we felt it provided hybrid vigor to the population. So, anyone with Latin heritage was considered a Latin, even if they were only as little as one-tenth Latin.
Returning to my Drusilla I remember her very well. Having an Orion mother, Drusilla had light green skin; she was tall, with raven black hair covering her pointed ears. Her ebony hair hung nearly to waist. Her flashing black eyes belied a maturity older than her eleven years of age. She had inherited her mother's great beauty and that strange essence of an Orion woman that seemingly haunts males of many races. Even at eight, I was so enamored of her dark beauty. I was in love yet at that age I did not understand it.
Today it was sunny, a fine spring day, it was mid-morning. As I planted squash seeds, I heard the bleat of sheep being led to the pastures. I hoped that it was Drusilla and she would stop and visit Lucia. My heart raced in excitement hoping to see her, yet not knowing why I felt this way.
"Luci, it is good to see my amcitia!" called Drusilla, speaking in Latin, the common language on Hellas, her ebony eyes peering through the hedge of brush separating our fields.
"Dru, I thought you would be the little shepherdess today," returned Lucia, effortlessly switching from the Vulcan we had been speaking to the common language without a stutter. Smiling and dropping her hoe, Lucia walked toward the hedge. She turned,
"Marco, come with me, we can rest and chat with Dru for a moment. Mater is not here."
As you can imagine, I needed no encouragement to get closer to Drusilla. I ran over to the rose hedge and stood near the gate that opened from our estate into theirs. Drusilla eyed me and smirked at my excitement with a wisdom I could not conceive.
"Marco, my beautiful fair Marco, whose eyes match the sky, and with hair like our sun, how is my love today?"
Placing her hands on my cheeks she kissed my forehead and then turned to Lucia. I had hair coloured like wheat straw and blue eyes. My skin was lighter than Lucia's, and I favored Mother in facial appearance rather than Father, except my eyebrows were not slanted and my ears far less pointed then Lucia's.
"Luci, did you hear that a great victory was won by our fleet deep in Klingon territory?" she asked excitedly.
"Non!" replied Lucia. "Do you think that the war will end soon? I know Mater says we have no desire to conquer or acquire anything from the Klingons, only avenge the deaths they brought to us. Anyway we will not harm women or children as they did at the colonies near Vulcan and Andoria."
I stood there listening to the girls chatter, not really comprehending anything they were saying. She called me her love. She caressed my cheeks, kissed my forehead, her scent intoxicated me. I was only eight, the feeling I felt I could not understand, but I soared to heights high into the sky. My heart raced. Finally, I calmed enough to actually listen to Lucia and Drusilla's conversation.
"So Dru, do you think that means our paters will be returning soon? Oh, I pray to the unnamed Creator, The Great I Am, to The Lady, and to Lady Galadriel that it is true."
"I do not know for sure, Luci. I overheard Mater talking to Flavia this morning after milking. She shooed me out to shepherd the sheep, so I did not overhear anything else."
"Flavia, that old gossip, how would she know anything? Why was she at your home?"
"Oh, Luci, Flavia is okay, I rather enjoy her visits. She says she was at the council house in the village late last evening and heard reports from the capital. Flavia even said that The Empress confirmed the victory."
Lucia looked at me, "Marco go gather up the tools and seed. We need to discuss this with Mater."
Hugging Drusilla, she turned and ran across the small field toward our villa.
I looked at Drusilla. "Good bye Drusilla, it was good to see you," I mumbled shyly.
Then I turned and ran to pick up the items Lucia told me to get and tried to catch up with her. As I ran toward our home, I overheard Drusilla say "cheltol caj tabadi, Marco". I smiled; she did not think I understood Kolari, what they spoke at her home. But I was a quick study of language and knew she said "Marco the good male of a great house".
I hurried to the urbana entrance of our villa, shaded by the freshly leafing olives; the steps were slippery with light moss and dew not yet dried from the morning. I placed the tools in the alcove and stepped into the atrium that led to the common room. I could hear Lucia questioning Mother.
"Mater, we just spoke with Drusilla in the field and," Lucia stopped short. Mother's eyebrow over her right eye arched up, she looked at Lucia with implied impatience.
Lucia in her excitement had spoken in Latin, not our house language. Mother never tolerated Latin in the home it was either Vulcan in the familiar or Greek if we were discussing philosophy or the arts. Even Aramaic was allowed when we read or discussed the books of knowledge about The Way and the Creator. But Mother detested Latin; it was too vulgar a language for her Vulcan tastes. She used it in the village and when conversing with friends and still used it often when talking to Great-grandmother Adela whose Vulcan was poor. Yet she thought it so common, in fact, that she made Father take us to eastern rites spoken in Greek rather than suffer through Latin in the western rites. I listened, sure Lucia would be reprimanded and receive extra chores or studies.
Quickly, in crisp, sharp Vulcan, I exclaimed: "Drusilla D'Nare told us we won a great battle against the Tlingansu, is it true Ko-mekh?" I hoped to divert her from punishing Lucia for speaking Latin.
Mother turned to me with little emotion evident upon her face. Mother strived to act logical, seldom smiled, and followed the way of Surak. But it had not always been such, Lucia would tell me that before Father left, Mother was always so full of a subdued joyful mirth and only controlled her emotions to a limited degree. Often then, Lucia said she would smile that almost non apparent Vulcan smile of hers where the corners of her mouth would curl upwards slightly. I remember she never laughed out loud but I remember recognizing mirth in her brown eyes. Now it was much different. I could not remember her happy moods, now it was always flat, very controlled, and emotionless. Yet I also recall certain days when she seemed more relaxed, satisfied, and somewhat carefree.
"Who told her about the battle?" she asked us both. Her beautiful face had that sharp questioning look upon when we were drilled about the quotes of Surak or facts from the Torah and the Koran.
Lucia, recovering from her faux pas, stated "Dru overheard Flavia tell her ko-mekh about it before she was sent to take the flock to the pasture near our west fields. We just talked to her minutes ago." Lucia did not forget to switch to Vulcan this time.
As Mother looked at both of us, our great-grandparents entered the common room to listen to our discussion. Mother sighed in that soft quiet way that only Lucia or Father would notice. I detected it by my sister's reaction.
"Ah it is true. And to anticipate your next question, ah your sa'mekh was involved. He is well. It was a major setback for the Tlingansu. Ours losses were small. It was a naval battle, corsairs, cruisers; you know the ships firing barrages across stretches of space. We had two ships damaged, but Gratius said they lost most of their northern fleet. He told me it was a rout. The remaining Tlingansu fled back to inner reaches of their space."
"Sa'mekh saw ri close quarter combat?" I asked.
"Nirsh," replied Mother. I could tell by subtle signs that she was very relieved.
"Ko-mekh, you talked to Sa'mekh on video com and did not wake us so we could see him?" queried Lucia, somewhat angry.
"Ri, it was through meditation that I learned of these facts. Logically it was late dear ko-fu. I did not wish to wake either of you. And he sends his love and misses you both. I am sure that we will receive a recorded message later this day. You both realize that the distance is too great for instant messaging. Lucia, you may check to see if we receive any messages after we eat dinner."
Lucia, not really satisfied, but smart enough not to say anything further, looked at me. Always I was the buffer between her and Mother. She quickly realized that Mother, for all her logic and effort, still favored me. I never liked this because it caused a rift at times between us. My eyes darted from Mother to Great-grandfather. I knew he understood Vulcan well enough to follow our conversation. I saw him whisper something to Great-grandmother and she nodded.
Mother turned and looked through a window at the sundial situated in the garden by our home, it showed near noon. She turned, "I suppose you both did not finish planting the field this morning since Drusilla D'Nare Crotus felt it was her sole mission in life to interrupt you both from your work. Were the cadets out helping you this morning?"
"Ri Ko-mekh, I guess they are still at the Augustan uroshitau helping there," answered Lucia.
Mother shook her head but said no more for a moment. That was Mother, matter of fact, never very emotional. I assumed I knew what was next as did Lucia and Great-grandparents.
"Well," Mother paused, then continued, "Let us be done for today. Go clean yourselves and we will eat early. Then we will go to the village and see the Tela'at, remember you have lessons this evening with Pater Theos. So do not tarry."
"Well," I thought, "this is a surprise we never leave the estate before late afternoon during the week, too much to get completed. Ko-mekh actually must be excited about something."
Being a Vulcan, she was difficult to read, even for me. Lucia looked at me and me at her; we exchanged small looks of surprise and then headed to our rooms. I noted that Ignatius and Adela went back to the kitchen.
After eating the evening meal early, we changed clothing and walked to our home village of Kolir. It was only about five kilometers from our villa. It was a cool spring day. We passed the Crotus estate and Mother spied some of the military cadets working in the fields. They were sowing small grains. She called the senior cadet over.
"Cadet Roma, when do you plan to come to our estate and help my children and me with the sowing?" Mother asked in Latin. She so seldom used it that it sounded odd hearing her speak Latin, but her diction was excellent, probably better than Father's.
"Mulierius T'Naa Marcellus, I apologize for our not arriving this morning, but we had some of the cadets pulled from us to aid in infrastructure repairs at Panar. We should be at your farm tomorrow afternoon. I hope this is convenient for you, Mulierius," replied Cadet Roma. She had her name tag evident above the left pocket of her green cadet uniform. Above her right blouse pocket was the tag indicating she was destined for the Latin navy.
Mother nodded, replying, "It will have to be. I realize with the war there are delays. How many will arrive tomorrow?"
"I will send a squad, Mulierius and they should arrive by 0600 hours. They will be yours until you do not require their assistance." Cadet Roma nodded towards my mother.
"Thank you Cadet Roma."
We continued towards Kolir.
Great grandmother lapsed into her broken Vulcan and said, "We have plan, since they need meals, laundry, ..."
"That is true," responded Mother in Latin. "Logically, it should be no different than as it was in autumn. We had two squads residing in the rustica for nearly a month. Are you concerned about stores Adela?"
"Sic," returned Grandmother Adela in Latin. I could tell she was happy that Mother replied in Latin. "It is just the additional planning, it is easier in the fall, since we are harvesting, food is more abundant."
"Tomorrow, look over our larder and note shortages if any exist. As for laundry, we will task the cadet in charge to set up their own system for this and they are disciplined so the housing should be fine. But you should inspect daily."
"Sic, I will attend to those tasks Mistress, Lucia can assist me."
T'Naa nodded agreement as the four of us strolled along the shaded path towards the village. As we walked the cobblestone path that lay between the hedgerows of various farms, I would dart ahead as young boys are wont to do. Mother would call me back, always desiring me to be near her, Lucia, and Great-grandmother Adela.
With the coming of spring, blossoms of the many fruit trees filled the midafternoon air with a myriad of fragrances mixed with the steady hum of bees. The grass along the path was that brilliant shade of green often seen in the early spring. The skies had easily given up their rain to provide the life drink for the living on the surface of the planet. I always loved spring, since it meant the birth of lambs and kids, the planting of seeds in our kitchen garden and the surrounding fields. It also saw the arrival of the cadets from the military academies. Their service projects always included helping on the villas in the spring and the fall. Someday, I thought, I will be one of them.
Yet I recall that I was enraptured by the waning of this day, with the birds singing and the smell of fresh soil. Even though Father was gone, as a lad of eight, I found great joy in the rebirth of life about the village of Kolir. I was so filled with joy that I wanted to shout, jump and caper all about the path as we neared our destination. I am afraid in my memories that I was a handful for Mother.
"Marcus my sa'fu," called Mother in Vulcan with a slight hint of exasperation in her languid voice, "quit flying about so. You are slowing us. Remember to control yourself and your emotions. Stay near Adela and me like Lucia does."
I came up beside Mother, smiling and laughing and took her hand. "I love you Ko-mekh. I love you Lucia." I shouted as I wrapped my arms about my mother's legs and nearly caused her to stumble. Yet, I remember her almost smiling. Then I leapt into air and over Great-grandmother's head and landed behind her laughing, I said, "Look out Ko'al. I may jump up to your shoulder and ride to town."
Lucia and Great-grandmother laughed my antics as we entered Kolir. Ko-mekh just shook her head and raised her left eyebrow. She was impatient with my actions and somewhat angry but I knew that look on her face and felt safe in my antics.