“Now that I’ve tried to talk to you and make you understand
All you have to do is close your eyes and just reach out your hand” ~ Extreme, More Than Words
((Holodeck 2, USS Invicta))
::It had been several days since they had ventured onto the holodeck in their last, rather unsuccessful venture into a holonovel. Previously their explorations of their respective homeworlds had been found mutually agreeable so, after allowing a certain amount of time, Saveron had suggested that they venture out once again in that vein. He had once promised to show her the native habitat of the flowering succulents that he kept in his quarters.::
::The sky was a warm apricot, the air a mild 47’C and below them to the north stretched a view of the An’ahyaes valley. This time the arch had let them out into the foothills at the southern end of the valley, in the shadow of some old stone ruins that they had last seen from a distance.::
Saveron: Ut-kashi tower.
::He gestured towards the ruins with one black-clad arm. He was wearing a casual long-sleeved tunic, close-fitting trews and knee-high boots, obviously unperturbed by the heat. On a sling over his shoulder he carried a large flask.::
Saveron: If you do not object, I intend that we should walk slowly down to a ravine where the sfhai t’aihghuimh grow. I have brought water supplies.
DeVeau: That sounds great. What’s that?
::One hand lifted and flicked toward a particular building that rose from the ground, a silent sentinel to the ruins. Once indicated, she let it move to wipe a droplet of sweat that trickled down her neck. It was hot, but not unbearable. It was a dry heat which made it easier to withstand than one that was accompanied by humidity. But it was still hot. Alora was in more terran clothes, a tank top and shorts that allowed for freedom of movement but limited her clothing as much as possible without being indecent.::
::The Vulcan looked up at the tower.::
Saveron: It was an ancient stronghold of my Clan, in the days when Nel Gathic clans warred amongst themselves and against others for the valley’s resources. ::He gestured to the valley floor immediately below.:: Here Valeohroehn won a battle, and lost a war.
::He had spoken of his ancestor before. The man was called ‘Valoren’ in alien history books.::
DeVeau: In what way?
::Alora was not completely ignorant of Vulcan history, but it hadn’t been a focus of any of her studies, so she was limited. She knew more than most Terrans, but this was still quite lacking in general.::
Saveron: He killed the leader of the Kor’hin Clan, triggering a reprisal attack from the man’s three half-siblings, who inherited joint leadership. His brother led the main assault whilst his sisters planned and executed an ingenious incursion through the hills here. In that battle much of the Ayein Clan was slaughtered, including Valoren.
DeVeau: You said he was an ancestor? How many generations past was that?
Saveron: Twenty-three generations. I am descended from him through his eldest son to his first bond-mate, Lohraedys.
::He glanced at the ruined tower again, before indicating a faint path into the hills and stepping out onto it.::
Saveron: I am curious as to your family’s history.
DeVeau: My family?
::Alora didn’t have such fascinating history behind her family - not that she knew of. Her ancestry couldn’t be traced back twenty three generations. Well, maybe it could, but no one had done so.::
DeVeau: They don’t have quite the coloured past. My mother and father met in the United states, though my father was originally from France. They had five kids, including me and...well, my life growing up was pretty mundane, really.
Saveron: As was mine. ::He replied evenly.:: I do not doubt that we could all find a famous ancestor, should be look back far enough. I consider Valoren’s son and my namesake to be a far better role-model; he brokered the peace that ended those hostilities. You mentioned your brothers; they are varied in their pursuits, are they not?
DeVeau: Varied. What a good way to put it. Yes, very much so. My eldest brother, Alain, has kind of followed my father’s footsteps. He’s actually a vice president in the same company. Then there’s Adrien who...well, he does whatever he wants.
::Or whatever the hell he wanted, as Adrien had so eloquently put it, but she wasn’t about to say that to Saveron.::
DeVeau: Alexandre is a Medical Officer in Starfleet and Aimé is an artist. He’s starting to get noticed for his work too.
::There were a lot of A’s, but her parents had actually planned that.::
DeVeau: You’ve mentioned your own family a little. Will you tell me more about them?
Saveron: Certainly. I am the third of four siblings. My elder brother Torenan is a teacher, specifically of adolescents, and primarily in History, though he also teaches Vulcan languages. He and his bond mate have five children and six grandchildren to date. Vanyeris my sister is an agricultural engineer like my father.
::Which was a fancy way of calling her a farmer.::
Saveron: She also has a family and lives not far from where we grew up. Her name has been inherited through our paternal line, as has my own. We have a cousin of the same name in Starfleet. ::And it too had a history.:: My younger sister Aleyra is a scientist and professor at Vulcanis University, which is where I studied Medicine. My parents are both local and both of the Ayein Clan. Unlike your own cosmopolitan ancestry, mine is confined predominantly to a single ethnic group.
::As they walked the land rose and became rockier, until they were walking between boulders of beige stone, fallen from the hills that rose gradually into cliffs on either side.::
::Alora stopped herself. She’d been about to query about his former bond mate, but she hesitated. Perhaps that was a subject best left alone. She switched to a completely different topic.::
DeVeau: You’ve told me a little about your people and their history. Are they a small group compared to other clans?
Saveron: They were for many cycles following that battle. That was, however, two thousand Terran years ago. The Ayein Clan is still smaller than some others, but we know this part of the valley like our own skin. It became our shelter and home until peace was negotiated.
::The Clan had for years thereafter waged a guerilla effort against those determined to drive them out, until finally peace had been negotiated.::
Saveron: That is, of course, now ancient history. Today the Clans live in peace and work cooperatively to tend the valley sustainably and supply food for much of Vulcan. My people have prospered through careful management of the valley’s resources.
DeVeau: It’s hard to imagine the Vulcans as anything but peaceful. Granted, history says otherwise, but all I’ve experienced has been...well, Vulcans like you. Those who are peaceful. Logical.
::And often who stated they could not feel emotion, though Saveron hadn’t claimed it. He’d been an anomaly in that respect.::
Saveron: To know us as we were, look to the Romulans. ::He replied blandly.:: I am given to understand that Europe had a somewhat tumultuous past. France is part of that conglomerate, is it not?
DeVeau: Oh gosh, yes. I mean, wars and wars, barbarians, raids, Celts and Anglo Saxons and...well, it’s pretty bloody in general. Pretty much history, until after World War III, is mostly just either what war was happening or how long til the next war. France was a part of Europe and while it wasn’t the only place to experience bloodshed, I suppose one might say it had more than its share.
Saveron: Was that due to geographical considerations, resources or culture? ::He asked, genuinely interested.::
DeVeau: I would say all three.
::Alora shook her head, her ponytail flouncing about merrily with the motion.::
DeVeau: There were motivations behind every altercation. Well, isn’t there always? Sometimes it was political. Sometimes it was because one country had something another wanted. Sometimes it was just the culture of the peoples to be war like and take what they wanted, whether they needed it or not. Well, I guess in every situation, ‘want’ had a large role to play, no matter what the exact situation. One place had gold, the other fertile soil, still another rare resources.
Saveron: And it was seen as easier to take than to negotiate or share, and better to have more than one’s neighbours. So we were once.
::And these hills and valleys had been stained green with blood because of it. That part of other cultures he understood all too well.::
DeVeau: That seems to be a very common theme, and not just among humans.
::Romulans, Klingons, Cardassians, even Vulcans. It was as if every species, humanoid or not, had some innermost desire for conquest in some form or fashion. Some had changed their ways, such as the Vulcans. Some...well, some still had work to do in that area. Even humans.::
Saveron: Given that we are all ultimately descended from the same seeded genetic stock, it is perhaps unsurprising that we have similar competitive and hierarchical tendencies. In evolutionary terms such conveyed an advantage on the individual, to the detriment of their peers. The advantage of intelligence is that we can learn to work cooperatively to the benefit of society as a whole. In many ways we are all still learning. ::He observed philosophically.::
::Around them the cliffs rose higher until they were making their way through a small canyon along what might have once, thousands of years ago, been a river bed; before Vulcan’s climate shifted and the world became largely desert. In cracks in the stone the occasional small, succulent plant showed, though no evidence yet of the ones they had come in search of.::
DeVeau: Was there water here once?
Saveron: Affirmative. It was long ago, before the climate changed.
::Of course, water had been present long ago, but she thought she recognised the markings of a particularly large body, the river bed that they traversed along. She paused to crouch down, her fingers digging into the soil as if it might answer some questions. It remained silent and she rose to clap her hand against her thigh. Hologram it might be, but it was real enough to the senses.::
DeVeau: Further on, you think?
Saveron: That is correct. I have walked this path before, many times.
DeVeau: And we’re going to see the flowers? It’s a place you enjoy?
Saveron: I find the destination agreeable, meditative. ::He allowed.:: It is not conducive to vehicles. I… considered that you might also find it agreeable.
DeVeau: Agreeable? You can say that you think I’ll like it. I don’t mind, really.
::But he was a Vulcan and probably never would.::
Saveron: It… is considered impolite in Vulcan culture to suggest that another might experience an emotional response. ::He explained carefully.:: I would not want you to construe negative connotations.
::He was being polite, and considerate, as his own culture saw it. He did not really know how else to be, and cross-cultural social interaction could be such a mine-field.::
::Up ahead the view seemed to shortened as the valley they followed narrowed.::
DeVeau: Oh I would never construe negative connotations by your suggestion that I might experience an emotional response to something. Especially if it’s a positive emotional response. ::She paused a moment, then added.:: Though I do hope you won’t think I’m being impolite if I imply that you might feel an emotional response to something. It’s...I guess just the way we humans talk and think and what not. We’re not trying to be impolite or anything.
Saveron: As I am aware. ::He assured her in his usual, mild tones.:: I have worked with Terrans for nine years now, and take no offence where none is intended. At the same time I choose to abide by my culture’s social etiquette where possible, even though to breach such would not be considered impolite by yourself. I would still consider it impolite.
::Which was perhaps honest if not entirely logical. The fact that he would consider such rude even if she didn’t meant that he chose not to do her that discourtesy.::
::Alora’s lips quirked upward, amusement evident on her face, but she didn’t press the issue.::
DeVeau: So be it, but if you ever change your mind, I won’t take offense.
::A slight nod acknowledged her words.::
::She turned her gaze forward as they traversed onward, eyes soaking in the sights of the foreign landscape.::
DeVeau: So how much further?
Saveron: We are nearing the end of this canyon.
::Not much further and the reason for the foreshortened view became obvious; the ancient water course had turned through a very narrow channel in the rock, then would once have plunged down a cascading series of falls. Now there was only a tumble of dry boulders that fell in a steep slope about fifty metres into a much broader chasm that twisted and wound away from them, not the only rock fall to do so. As they looked down they could see more small plants clinging to the rock face, including one example of the sfhai t’aihghuimh they had come to find.::
::It wasn’t that far of a drop, but it was enough to spur Alora back a couple of steps. She certainly couldn’t just jump down it. Doing so would be bad. Very bad. Fortunately, it was just a hologram and the safeties were engaged but that didn’t mean she didn’t feel a sense of trepidation and dizziness as she gazed downward.::
Saveron: We must climb down to reach our destination, if you do not object. Otherwise I can alter the program.
::Sometimes though the journey was part of the destination, and some things were worth the effort.::
DeVeau: I...guess not.
::This was going to be fun - and if she kept saying it she might just believe it. Alora might have asked Saveron to hold her hand except first, he was a Vulcan and she had a feeling he didn’t want to do that again and second, it was kind of hard to climb down rocky terrain with one hand.::
Saveron: Inform me if you reconsider.
::Slinging the water flask over his shoulder, Saveron grasped hand-holds in the rock wall and stepped down onto the first boulder. The long-limbed Vulcan had a distinct advantage in this type of activity.::
::The boulders were not precipitous, if one slipped one would only land on the one below, but they were still a marked scramble and some were quite big. As they climbed down the air changed a little, the barest hint of a rise in humidity in the thin air starting to register.::
::Alora gazed down upon the man who so easily made his way over the boulders. Her teeth worried her lower lip, but she crouched down, then carefully eased over the edge to the first set of holds. There was no way she was going to go as fast as he was. At least they weren’t any higher.::
::As they descended Saveron kept a careful eye on Alora’s progress. In the thin air and high gravity he was in his element, his strength evolved to compensate for just such an environment; his companion had evolved for a very different world. He did not wish her to find the journey disagreeable.::
::The path down the scree that they had taken had brought them to the top of a particularly large rock. The Vulcan was already hunting for a path along it’s side, using a smaller rock wedged beside it as a foot-hold. It would not be easy however.::
Saveron: Do you require assistance?
DeVeau: No. No...I’m okay. For now. I’ll uh...scream or something if I need you. Loudly. I promise.
Saveron: Exercise due caution.
::The safeties were engaged of course, but he would find it particularly disagreeable if Alora were to sustain an injury from their adventure.::
::Alora continued to carefully pick her way down. At one point, however, her foot, though it originally caught onto a hold, slipped and she screeched as her hands clutched at the rock and dug painfully in an attempt to keep from taking the quick way down. The position she was in set her in between two boulders beneath - which meant if she dropped, she’d most likely drop all the way down to the bottom.::
DeVeau: Um…Sav...Sav….::Pant.:: SAV…
::Footfalls sounded on stone some distance below.::
Saveron: Let go. ::He said calmly.:: I will catch you.
::Let go? He wanted her to let go? She had to let go? It was a very long drop. Alora twisted her head to stare beneath her. It wasn’t as long as it had been when she started, but it was far enough. She swallowed. She had to let go. Let go. Let go. Dangit, let go!
Finally, her fingers obeyed and she slid ungracefully downward.::
::Braced on the rock below, long arms collected Alora as she slipped off the rock, holding her firmly against his chest as he took their collected weight and carefully maintained his stability. Like the atmosphere around them his own internal temperature was much higher than a Terran’s would have been, making his grasp particularly warm. He carefully set her down on the rock he was standing on.::
Saveron: My apologies. I should have chosen a different route down this slope.
::He hadn’t considered the issue of the large boulder until they were almost on it, an unforgivable oversight.::
Saveron: Are you injured?
::Hurt? No. Not hurt. Not physically anyway. If anything, she was embarrassed and the pink that had taken its opportunity to sweep across her cheeks was evident to that fact.::
DeVeau: Just bruised my pride.
::Her voice cracked and it was the first time she realised she’d not consumed much in the way of liquids.::
DeVeau: Um. Is this a bad time for some water? Please?
Saveron: It is not.
::He unshipped the flask on its strap over his shoulder, offering it to her. While Alora drank Saveron considered the route down, calculating a path that involved as few large rocks as possible.::
A JP by
Lieutenant Commander Saveron
SO and CMO
Lieutenant Alora DeVeau
Chief Science Officer