[T'Shen monastery, Shi'Al province]
23rd Day in the month of et'Khior, YS 9022
The abbot heard the distinct hum and chime of the Federation transporter a good 0.3 seconds before the first swirl of blue appeared. Right in the middle of his lilies. No ten point two centimeters from his soil-covered fingers.
Well, one should perhaps be grateful the Yel-Halitra had heeded the monastery's request to adjust their transporter coordinates, or at least the kitchen staff would be. It had become mildly tiresome to extract bewildered outworlders from the food stores or gently lead them away from boiling broth after they had materialized squarely on top of it. And of course there had been that unfortunate incident with the cutting knives
There was certainly the option to simply move the flowers, however they had grown in this very spot for over three centuries and were fair accustomed to it, not to mention it would upset the balance and harmony of the gardens. A small conundrum indeed.
Resolving to send yet another message to the Starfleet with a polite reminder that the preferred arrival point for guests was outside the main hall, Sejet brushed some of the fertile dirt from his hands and studied the boots taking shape in front of him. Even on his knees and leaning forward to soothe a poor plant that had recently suffered a close encounter with a Yel-Halitra Marine, the old monk noted this person was considerably smaller and distinctly female.
Well, it would be rude not to greet her, standing in the middle of fragrant, yellow blossoms as she was, and Sejet sat back on his heels, giving a small nod.
"Aefvadh, havranha. Thei-etrhei hwavha?"
Shiarrael took an unknowing step forward crushing one of the bright yellow blossoms beneath the polished blackness of her boot. She looked down only to see a few bright frames of yellow and green jutting out from beneath the edges of her soles. "Forgive me." She looked at the man as she stepped off the flower bed. "Jolan'tru- you know why I am here?"
Not only Rihanha but exuding command like a hearth breathes warmth, and the casual, almost insouciant grace of one carrying a name that weighed heavily. All this the old abbot determined with a second-long patient gaze, just as he acknowledged the woman's courtesy with a small gesture.
Well, logic suggested an obvious answer but Sejet found that outworlders occasionally were taken aback by too obvious displays of reasoning skills. Pulling a deceptively small blade from the canvas bag sitting on the grass next to him he cut the crushed flowers at the stems and carefully collected the petals, seemingly ignoring the young lady staring down at him with those startlingly violet eyes.
The bulbs would endure and sprout anew, but some tender care to aid them in this endeavor would speed the recovery and the abbot had his priorities.
"If you are indeed Shiarrael t`Rehu, the answer is like to be yes, madam." He spared a polite glance upwards at last after nodding with satisfaction at the lilies slowly recovering from the third shock in as many days. "Unless of course you are here to have your own injuries tended which, if you will forgive me in turn, I doubt."
Brushing loose strands of raven hair behind a pointed ear she kneeled down next to the elderly Vulcan. "This brings back many memories" she smiled brightly at Sejet letting the warm nostalgia show in her expression. Shiarrael reached out and wrapped her fingers around the elderly man's hand. They were dry and rough with layered calluses covering his furrowed digits "let me please." She carefully removed the floral snips from his grasp as he hesitantly loosened his grip on the tool. She reached across the bed, propped up the last remaining damaged stem with her hand, and carefully removed the few remaining yellow petals "my grandfather spent most of his time after retirement tending to the gardens on our estate." When she finished she set the floral snip next to him and slid the petals into the bag as he had done "I, like these flowers- even though they have been crushed will heal in time and bloom again."
She stood and dusted the earth from her knees "I am here to see my second..." Shiarrael inhaled deeply as she finally took in the scenery surrounding her. To have such color present on this rusty marble amazed her. She looked at the old man with a whimsical smirk creasing its way across her lips "my people have always been fond of nature- I would have never expected such a place on Vulcan."
The abbot settled back on his heels and watched with a patient gaze as the Rihanha tended to his lilies she was not without promise, and certainly had experience though seemed a bit out of practice. The small wrinkles at the corners of his eyes and mouth appeared in a flash, as they were wont to when he seemed to share a quiet joke with the universe, and he gave another courteous nod once she was done. "So they will, time and again. As they have for centuries, as they will for as long as there is but one who will spare a drop of water now and then to see it so. Beautiful, yes? And rather more hardy than their appearance suggests."
Her second indeed. How that had come to pass was truly a marvel, though one Sejet silently approved of. And experienced no small amount of humor over. He calmly collected his tools and closed the small canvas bag, letting a politely curious gaze linger on the woman as she in turn seemed to become inquisitive about her surroundings.
"Few outworlders do, madam." Rising to his feet in a fluid motion that made his wide amaranth robes flow like water and was rather unexpected in a person rapidly approaching his third century, the abbot allowed another of those fleeting 'almost smiles' to crinkle the skin around his dark, deep eyes. "And treasure nature you and us do alike. Though it gladdens me to hear that even those who have found a more gentle world to call their own do still cherish that which grows. It would be easy to take for granted what you won through such hardship."
In a near absentminded and yet graceful motion Sejet shook out his robes and picked up the little bag before subtly pointing his chin at the east wing of the monastery, where elegant honey-colored stone arcades provided shade and several pergolas overgrown with vines nestled among small fountains. "If the young T'sai is not in the baths she can usually be found in these gardens. May I offer myself as guide?"
"I would be honored." Shiarrael bent over in a slight bow and withheld a chuckle as she kept her gaze on the elderly monk "so long as it is not a burden."
Sejet's small hand gesture could easily have been interpreted as a simple invitation to follow, and it was. To another Vulcan however it was also good-humored acknowledgement of extensive courtesy. "It is not, madam."
He adjusted his stride with the ease of long practice, allowing the somewhat smaller female to keep pace as they floated past a small fountain and a batch of vibrant blue Kh'aa herbs in bloom.
There was of course the option to seek out the young one's mind and hone in on the unique signature as if on a homing beacon. But it was hardly necessary when a massive ball of fur dozing in the shadows announced her presence as clearly as the musical voice mingling with the song of yet another little spring.
"Riyh nnah-darr, ohassu. Háku'u m'ha."
"Bayel on'tor, T'sai."
Ah. Apparently it was young Torin who had drawn the proverbial short straw and was tasked with convincing the T'sai that some rest was in order. Well, it could wait just a little longer.
"Ved roel, Torin. Istau stari Oko-su t`Rehu k'Nerien."
In any other species the young healer could have been described as going wide-eyed. As it was, Torin blinked and favored the Rihanha with a long look that spoke of curiosity and a doctor's silent disapproval. But even if the abbot himself had not ordered it so, it would be rude in the extreme to keep a S'thora from her second. Rather vexing, really.
He adjusted the light cashmere blankets around his patient and bowed crisply before striding off, nearly managing to trip over a grumbling Sehlat in the process. Apparently, Warya was not too happy about the visitor. One could only hope he was mellow enough at his old age to not try and eat her.
"Captain." The sable-haired Vulcan stretched out on a low couch and wrapped in blankets as if the healers were expecting a snowstorm politely tipped her head and then invitingly pointed her chin at the other seating arrangements across from her "I am gratified to see you well."
Shiarrael's head turned as her gaze followed the doctor out. When he was gone and they were alone she looked at her second. A slight frown threatened to overtake her weakening smile as she took a few steps towards the bed-ridden Vulcan. "I am glad to see you are alive." She looked down at the sand chiseled floor "I was told what my cousin did to you." She looked up at Sakarra "what I mean is, forgive me for not killing him sooner."
It was almost as distressing to see her Captain fight the frown and lower her gaze as it was to see the echo of other violet eyes briefly flashing in her memory.
"Kaiidth, Captain." The Vulcan's voice was as musical and velvety as ever, and the almost gentle timbre could as easily be attributed to fatigue as to grief. "What is, is."
Still and unmoved in her cocoon of blankets, her unmarred face shining in the warm candlelight like an exquisite statue, Sakarra's eyes seemed the only sign of life, glowing with a carefully contained flame.
Oh, she understood. Understood all too well. But in the Rihanha's eyes she was and would remain the bizarre image of a creature who rejected emotion, did not even comprehend the most basic meaning of what compelled others. It was just as well.
"We are alive. He is not." It was, certainly, stating the obvious. And it was certainly done with the dry, dark humour that is hallmark of Nevasa's own. As if even pain that tore at your soul with a Le-Matya's sharp claws were something one could laugh about like a soldier stuck in a foxhole, bleeding into the dirt, will laugh at the shells exploding all around.
The awkward feeling that weighted on her smile lifted and Shiarrael relaxed somewhat "fortunate for us, I suppose." There was an undertone of bitterness but it was directed mostly at the situation they had found themselves in "it was not an easy undertaking- you did well. I am truly honored that you became my second." She took a small step forward "there are many uncertainties that lay ahead. If Starfleet chooses to retain me I will still need someone that I can trust..."
She suddenly chuckled and lowered herself to stone floor crossing her legs as she sat down "as difficult it is for me to admit- I have come to rely on a thaessu. She is a strong and noble woman who I have learned to respect. Opposite of me she is tempered where I tempestuous. She is anchored where I am capricious- perhaps she has become like a sister I do not have."
Tempestuous indeed. The sudden change in her Captain's demeanor, the rapidly changing emotions on the elegant features were by now as familiar to the Vulcan as the changing winds over the hills.
Just as suddenly as the other woman's chuckle had filled the air, a slender, almost frail hand emerged from under the thick blankets to hover just above the Rihanha's wrist. Close enough so the warmth, almost back to the heat exuded by a healthy Vulcan, could be felt. Not quite close enough to touch.
Not quite the gentle greeting or simple joyous recognition of a friend. But a promise of it, an echo, hovering, offered in trust.
"Always." Sakarra said simply. And it was simple, at least for a Vulcan. Your Captain asked you to stand by her it was what you did. No more, no less. And never less than with all you had to give.
"T'ko-veh k'harta'yh, S'thora."
Night black eyes. Mind reader eyes. Deep, deep pools, unreadable. Except for those who knew better. A world of emotion, flickering, gone in the space of a Vulcan heartbeat.
"An unlikely match, yes?"
But it was true. It was C'thia. Family not always means blood. Though in this case of peoples long parted and sundered, something still called to the familiar. You did not always get to choose. But when you found a sister spirit, against all odds and even reason, logic itself demanded to heed the call. Truly, the universe had a most unique sense of humor.
"You honour me greatly, Captain." Poor words to convey the gift of trust, the silent joy of it. Still, sometimes it needed to be said.
Shiarrael nodded her head and stood up. "No, it is truly mine. There are too few that I can trust. It eases my mind to know that one so close should be included with that very few." With a final tip of her head she turned around "there are many things to do. I should return. Rest, heal, and be ready to return should that time come."
Rest. Ah, she was tired of rest. But the Vulcan inclined her head in acknowledgement and acceptance, watching her Captain stride back into the sunlit gardens. Logic dictated that a weak and physically impaired first officer was of no use. But there are times when even Vulcans find logic a damn annoyance.
Captain Shiarrael t`Rehu
Lieutenant Commander Sakarra Tyrax