A/N: Minor update 12/24
Though there's nothing in the content of the chapter that directly relates, still this chapter is dedicated to Fameanon, for her inspiration.
I realized it may not be entirely clear, this chapter jumps back a bit in time from the previous.
I use the word "vre'kasht" often. Since ENT, the preferred term that everyone uses for Vulcans who reject logic, is "V'tosh katur." I just don't particularly like the term, so I don't use it.
T'Ven returned to the desert five months into her pregnancy.
Since her first encounter with that vre'kasht - though she would never call any of them that to their faces - she had gained their trust.
While the girl with the brain tumor recovered in the hospital, T'Ven ran some scans. She discovered several troubling genetic markers - ones that suggested the possibility of widespread genetic diseases among her people.
The G'teth, that was what they called themselves, though with no explanation.
The girl returned home, once again healthy. But T'Ven was disconcerted that they had waited so long to seek medical treatment. She had been not far from terminal complications.
At five months pregnant, all of her colleagues knew of her pregnancy, as she was already beginning to show. They respected her privacy enough not to question the circumstances.
When she requested an extended period of leave, however, those who had declined to question before began to wonder. It was common to take leave when one was nearing one's ... Time ... but they assumed that had already passed. The baby was not due for at least another six months, though she was requesting a full year. If she had any serious medical problems with the pregnancy, they would have known.
The day after she put in her request, an official letter from the Ministry of Health arrived at the hospital, stating that T'Ven had been awarded a research grant to study genetic diseases in populations with less access to medical care.
Though she hadn't informed them beforehand of her intent to do such a project, it was not against the conditions of her employment to do it in the order she had.
Several of her colleagues reminded her of the dangers she would face in the desert, reminding her she was pregnant, reminding her of the reckless illogic of those she would be treating. She replied to each that she had planned this well, and had already thought of these things.
In private, they each speculated that one of these vre'kasht, perhaps even the one who had come to the hospital, had mated with her, and she was returning to him now. A few even suspected she would make her permanent home among them, renouncing Surak's teachings, and was just using the research grant as a socially acceptable cover for her departure.
The truth was, she had seen things when she returned their child to them, and she knew they would never seek out medical help. She had to bring it to them. They trusted her. In fact, in their own way, they had asked for her help. She was sure what she had seen had been meant to be seen.
She had approached Dr. Sorvik, the first one who she'd told about the pregnancy, asking if he would be willing to treat these vre'kasht on their own territory. His response was quick, and forceful. He would not. Though left unspoken, he seemed to believe that if they chose to live as animals, they should be treated as such.
But healers treated animals and sentient beings alike. T'Ven had chosen to adhere to a code of ethics that did not allow for a refusal of treatment based on the patient's philosophical beliefs or way of life.
It became clear to her that she would not be able to adequately see to their medical needs while still working in the hospital daily. So she chose to go the one route that would allow her to do what she needed. She applied for a research grant.
It was a bit of an unorthodox move, sure, but it had worked. Only days after the letter had arrived, T'Ven was loading medical equipment into her aircar and leaving for the caves.
The first few days among them were difficult. It was not just their unchecked passions and their overt emotional displays. They had naturally strong minds, but left them unshielded. From every touch, whether at the psi points or not, powerful emotions flooded the connection. It was nearly enough to push T'Ven to leave. She could hardly examine patients when she was constantly being assaulted with a barrage of emotions. Even the Romulans had some small modicum of control that these vre'kasht did not.
But she stayed, and they treated her as an honored guest.
Sorvik had been counting days since he had seen T'Ven last. He was well aware that this protective instinct was misplaced, and his desire to see to her well-being was entirely illogical. But if she had trusted him enough to confide in him before, he figured some level of concern for her was acceptable. She was with child, though not his, so as a physician he should not dismiss her outright.
Her apartment was just across a large open courtyard from the hospital. For the first two months after she left, he had watched for her aircar to return, though it would not be to return to the hospital. Surely, she would return for something. Clothing, to accommodate her growing form. More medical equipment. Perhaps she needed to contact someone. But she did not return.
He chided himself for allowing himself this level of involvement. It was bordering on improper, if he was not going to pursue her as a bondmate, then this was becoming a serious breach of her privacy. Yet, a part of him kept repeating, she had confided in him that she had never bonded with the man who fathered her child.
She had requested a full year's leave, but, he knew she did not plan to go off-planet. In fact, she had told him her destination, even though he had expressed his disagreement with her plans. So she was not far, only about an hour's journey by aircar. East of the Caves of Kulvir, in the Arlanga mountains across the Forge. He had a few days reprieve from work, and so packed supplies and set out to find her. Almost directly north of de'Khriv, she had said.
After nearly two hours of searching for her location, without success, Sorvik began to doubt his plan anew. It was nearing nightfall, and though he did have his aircar he did not want to spend the night here in the Forge.
But soon, circumstances took a turn in his favor, when a group of four boys, all perhaps young adolescents, emerged from a relatively hidden outcropping on the side of one mountain. They carried weapons, no doubt to hunt for food. Like animals, he thought with no small measure of disgust. Nevertheless, they might be able to help him locate T'Ven.
He pulled up next to them, and they regarded him with open confusion and mistrust.
"I am looking for Hakausu T'Ven," he said.
The boys exchanged wary glances. The shortest and, presumably, youngest one spoke up. "We don't know where she is."
In response, the tallest smacked him hard on the back of his head.
He pulled his fist back to strike him back, but the other two boys restrained him.
"She is in the caves," the tallest said, pointing to to the place from where they had came.
Sorvik quickly sped away from the boys, finding their display quite distasteful. They were old enough to control their violent impulses, if they cared to try.
Reaching the caves necessitated a brief climb up a steep incline in the rock face. Sorvik debated whether to bring along his bag, which included a minimal medkit, but ultimately decided against it.
He reached the entrance to the caves easily and quickly, but wondered how T'Ven, pregnant, could handle that incline.
The interior was illuminated with a combination of primitive electrical lighting and large flaming torches.
He heard muffled footfalls, then with a sudden swish through the air, found the curved blade of a lirpa millimeters from his chin.
A female held the long weapon, her stance and her face challenging him to make one wrong move.
He willed his heart rate down, and turned his arms out from his sides, showing he was unarmed.
Her stance did not change in the slightest. "What do you want?"
"I am here to see Hakausu T'Ven."
She narrowed her eyes at him. "Who are you?"
Sorvik noticed she wore gloves, and it seemed strange to him. He allowed himself to survey her appearance before answering the question. She was dressed in several layers of reddish clothing the color of the sands outside. No identifying marks he could see. Long brown hair that was unsurprisingly not styled like so many logicalwomen preferred. "I am Hassu Sorvik," he said finally. "I am a colleague of T'Ven's."
Her brow creased, but she retracted the blade slightly and motioned with her head for him to walk further into the caves. The lirpa followed his head, until she suddenly reached out and grabbed hold of his arm, pulling him along with a strong grip. The reason for the gloves seemed much clearer now - they protected from unwanted direct contact.
She led him quickly through to a small, well-lit natural room in the cave wall. Another young boy sat lazily on the ground outside.
As they moved closer, the full room came into view. There, on the hard stone floor, lay T'Ven, curled on her side, arms wrapped around her rounded abdomen. She did not look up at their approach. Sorvik struggled again to keep his heart rate under control. Was she unconscious? There was a low electrical hum in the air that suggested a force field.
The woman with the lirpa stopped him, pressing the flat length of the blade hard against his chest.
Sorvik suddenly regretted having waited so long to find T'Ven. He wondered if she had spent all of the last two months curled up in this little cell like this. That protective instinct asserted itself again in his mind, but he wisely did not try to move yet.
The blade slid away from his chest, and the woman tapped the blunt end of the lirpa against the ground twice. T'Ven stirred and looked up at her. Not unconscious, he thought with some relief.
"Do you know this man?" Her voice was low and husky.
T'Ven pushed herself up to a sitting position and stared at Sorvik. "Yes, I know him."
Curiously, the woman abruptly turned and walked away. The boy sitting on the ground stared after her, glanced at T'Ven and back at the woman, then quickly got up and followed her away.
"Are you well?" he asked, as he reached his hand towards the force field he could hear but not see, looking around for some sort of control panel that would release her.
"I am." She rocked back onto her heels and slowly rose to standing. "Why are you here?"
"To see to your well-being."
She reached a hand up to the inside of the stone wall, and the force field crackled and fell. A slight rush of cool air hit Sorvik's face.
"I am well. Slight fatigue from the pregnancy," she placed a hand on her abdomen for emphasis, "but that is not unexpected. How did you find me?"
"You spoke once of the location."
She considered this for a moment, then said, "I am a healer, Sorvik. I do not need you to see to my well-being. I am more than capable of seeing to it myself."
He glanced meaningfully around at the small room she stood in.
"I asked for this small room as a place to rest during the day. It was not in use."
"The force field?"
"Cool air." She pointed to a square device in one corner. "As you know, pregnancy raises the body temperature." She finally stepped out of the room, quickly locating the control panel on the outside, that Sorvik had not been able to find, and raised the force field again.
He leaned closer to her, lowering his voice. "It ... concerns me, you being among these vre'kasht."
Her eyes narrowed. "They call themselves G'teth."
He shook his head.
"I assume you are not here to assist me in my efforts?"
"I am not."
"They are sentient beings, regardless of their philosophy. They have asked me for help. They require medical attention. If they were Andorian, or Klingon, would you refuse to assist me?"
"They are not Andorian or Klingon."
"No, they are Vulcan, so you can refuse treatment?"
Sorvik stepped back slightly. "I have not refused treatment. As you just stated, they asked you for help. Not me."
"It does not matter. If you are not here to assist me, I request that you leave."
"Must I be escorted by an armed guard?"
Her eyes narrowed again. "I will accompany you out of the caves."
T'Ven returned to de'Khriv months later, heavily pregnant.
She returned briefly to the hospital, seeking another healer to help her through the birth of her child when the time came.
She saw Sorvik there. He still mentioned his disapproval of the G'teth, though he refused to call them such. Nothing had changed.
T'Ven was disappointed that Sorvik's attitude was so widespread. Had they not all professed adherence to the same values? They were healers, doctors, they did not get to pick and choose who they were willing to help.
Still on leave, she began to consider her options. She did not want to leave the hospital permanently. She did not want to leave de'Khriv and try to work at another hospital in another city, not with a newborn child to care for.
Through some research, she came to her decision. She would join the Interspecies Medical Exchange. Her application would take some time to go through, and by the time everything was in order, her daughter would be old enough to accompany her wherever she would end up.