=/\= T'Shen monastery, Shi'Al province =/\=
7th Day in the month of T'lakht, YS 9022
How odd, he had forgotten how the sky seemed endless here, a white hot dome without clouds and a sun you could not look at lest it blinded you, though they stared into its fires without blinking. It had been that, telling him this child of his blood would ever be of this world, when she had been but a few weeks old and her dark, dark eyes had turned towards that light and not looked away.
Where he needed a tri-ox compound just to breathe in the thin air and still the gravity made his bones feel as if they were filled with lead, she ran and laughed, climbed deadly slopes like one of the agile little mountain gazelles.
"Did she ever tell you she nearly drowned, once? It was on Betazed during a spring storm, and she was fourteen and a right hellion. Four Deities know it was a near thing, and it took three grown men to pull her out of the sea, half drowned themselves at the end. For the longest we thought we'd never get her near water again, all the gentle coaxing and Betazoid understanding, all the trained counselors and empaths getting nowhere because she was afraid, and she was angry. Until she ran away and found herself the highest cliff in the mountains to jump into a lake so cold it could have killed her on that account alone."
Shaking his head softly the Betazoid picked a slice of fruit and examined it, the deep red seeds in their bed of rich yellow. "I think I started to turn grey that night. T'Sora understood. She didn't approve, not out loud. But I know she understood. People look at them, even and especially Vulcans, and they see the curly hair, the small stature and think they know. Stubborn to a fault, and if they made up their mind it had better be the universe that bend because they won't. Throw at them what you will, they don't care, they're built to endure, and steel is like warm butter next to them. Exotic, with that little quirk they have, and desirable because of it for the Deities know they're not exactly Vulcan beauty standard. And what could possibly hurt a being that can survive Sandfire and laugh?"
Deep blue eyes, a startling color, like sapphires at twilight, watched the Betazoid and he saw the subtle shifts even as he sensed them "They never reckon the cost. But I have a feeling you do. If she had to go, run off again and jump a cliff to either stop being afraid or die trying, she's seen no other way out. Or none that works for her."
A brief nod at the gem. The map.
"You're the only one she trusts to see her like that and hold her secret safe. And her, too, though she'll want to bite my head off for telling you."
Brent was silent, very silent for a long long time. He hadn't known much about Sakarra's childhood. The story of her and the fear of water wasn't something that he had heard before. However Brent could very much see it taking place, and shaping her into the woman that she was today. He let out a sigh, before taking the parchment and reaching down, picking up the map in crystal form before placing it in his pocket. "I love her. More than anyone else I have met before. I didn't think I could love someone like this, and yet. Here I am," he said staring at the small red crystal. He smirked for a moment before he turned to Rel and spoke up again, "So. Where were you when I was trying to court your daughter and failing miserably because of the damnable differences in culture. Thank you. I appreciate everything you've said, it means a lot to me."
With that Brent stood up. "I however, have a stubborn Vulcan to find in her moment of need. I must take my leave of you. Give my best to your mother, even if she does seem to give a very good impersonation of a bull in a china shop..." he cast a glance back at the boisterous Betazoid before he nodded at Rel, and called for a transport out of the monastery from one of the stations in orbit.
Smiling quietly, the Betazoid nodded at the Marine just as amaranth sparks enveloped the tall, imposing figure. "You seem to have done just fine without me." Murmured so softly the human would hardly have heard even if the transporter beam had not whisked him away that moment, the words floated on the warm, clean air, followed by a soft chuckle.
It wasn't every day you got to meet your only daughter's Imzadi.
=/\= One Hour later =/\=
Desert. It was a damn good thing that Brent really did love Sakarra. He really did hate the desert. He loved her more though, and so he was here. He had gathered himself up appropriate desert clothing. Light, loose fitting, sturdy boots for hiking, and a shawl over his head. On his back he had a pack of water designed to stay cool even in this heat. He had the note with him and the map, which he promptly activated. The second thing that he activated, or adjusted, was his belt. He had gotten very good at terrain hopping around during the last war, making him an exceptional scout despite his large stature. Here he was using it to bring himself along faster than he could have run in such rough terrain. He could feel her again, although it was not the same as before. He continued onward, in the direction of the map, slowly feeling her growing closer and closer. He hated the desert, but Brent would be damned if he would leave her alone to deal with this.
=/\= Sas-a-Shar (The Forge), near the Plains of Blood =/\=
Countless people have tried to describe the most unforgiving landscape one of the galaxy's already most inhospitable planets has to offer, and every last one failed. How do you describe a place where words like 'heat', 'sun', 'dry' or even 'light' lose all meaning? A vast expanse of glittering rock and sand, barren and seemingly devoid of all life. Vulcan's hearth-star dominated the blazing white skies, beating down onto the plains, the hills, the canyons and crevices, relentless as a hammer.
Endless. Death, desolation, white, merciless light that reflected off the ground, became all-present, permeated the very air. No place to hide from it, from anything. Live, if you can. Die, if you cannot. Simple.
They called it "Forge" for a reason.
Gauging the hours until nightfall by Nevasa's angle over the plains, Sakarra settled on the next best rock and poured a handful of precious water to offer to her old friend. It took a small effort to stop her skin from absorbing it immediately, but it was getting easier.
Nothing mysterious about inherited traits recognizing their purpose, and if poets decided to sing about ancient blood rising, about small, wild creatures answering the call of the desert well, it was just a flowery way of describing simple facts.
Long before Nevasa's rage had turned this world's lush forests to ashes and its vast seas to pitiful pools, long before the nomadic tribes had been forced to seek the once abundant water and settle near it, building villages that grew into splendid cities, long before there had been speech and song, her ancestors had roamed these parts. No others had dared to venture here, not before, not after the world had betrayed them and killed with indifferent flame. Unmolested, unencumbered, free and happy in their own way, the old ones had the meager hunting grounds for themselves for millennia. Until the others had settled close to their realm, contested the sparse resources, the wild children of Sas-a-Shar had fair passed into the realm of legend. Desert spirits, untamed barbarians who raided villages in the night and disappeared like shadows, unseen. Hunted and feared, their numbers had dwindled but their reign over the Forge itself remained unchallenged. And one day the lovely, frail, etheral creatures of the east had come to offer alliance, offer survival.
There were always Vulcans who traveled the desert, followed the path Surak had taken so many centuries ago in search of wisdom, enlightenment, or merely a glimpse of understanding. Very few indeed simply came here to be.
Far in the west, Seleya's peak rose into the clear skies. Once, long ago, her flanks had been covered in tall trees and she had worn a mantle of snow, shining brighter than a beacon. Now she was a jagged edge pointing skywards like a dagger, alone, majestic. If the little Vulcan had needed a landmark, it would have sufficed.
As it was, her destination was independent of any landmark save the very practical one of a hill buried in rubble, hiding an ancient cask of water in its womb. Without even the scent of the precious liquid to guide her, Sakarra had to rely on senses that were as old as her race itself, drawn onward like the compass needle shivers towards the magnetic pole.
Water was life.
For the first time since she had set foot on the doomed Rihannsu ship, the Vulcan breathed freely.
And then chuckled softly when the motion made a barely mended rib send a surge of pain outward.
Well and so. This, too, had become a simple matter here.
"You are welcome."
Patient amber eyes blinked in the bright light, studying the harsh outlines of the small canyon ahead. Warya knew where she was headed and approved, though he was not looking forward to the digging. Or the climbing. But there was no helping it, she had to stay until the hurt was gone, and he would watch over his favorite cub as long as his old bones would let him. He only hoped he would hear her sing again, before the end. Warya liked songs.
Setting one massive paw before the other, the Sehlat ambled after his friend.
=/\= To be continued =/\=
Lt Cmdr Sakarra Tyrax
Brevet 1st Lieutenant Brent Warren
A smattering of the Twelfth House of Betazed