Author’s note: Ummm… enjoy? Or not.
If humans were considered one extreme on the emotional scale and Vulcans on the other, then Troyans sat at the absolute middle.
Jenu, daughter of Sia received no kisses or hugs or other signs of outward affection upon reuniting with her father. In the Troyan tradition, a female was not even allowed to move or speak until given permission to, so she simply knelt before her father, lowered her head, and waited.
The Troyan custom of favor was always bestowed by the laying of both hands upon the top of the head. Jenusia received only one hand from her father, and it was a perfunctory tap at best before he turned his back upon her and took the three steps up to the top of the raised dais.
Jenusia had told Selkek all along how her father adored and spoiled her. Now Selkek glanced to his right and watched helplessly as a silent Jenusia stiffened and her eyes brightened with unshed tears. Clearly this was not the sort of welcome she generally received from that gentleman. Selkek took the gesture to mean that she was now out of her father’s favor and she was out of his favor because of him.
Her father after staring down at the top of his daughter’s head for several long seconds, finally spoke. “You may speak, my daughter,” but,” he added, quickly raising a finger to add emphasis, “not freely.”
Her voice quivering slightly, she offered up an introduction. “Father, may I be permitted to present, Selkek of Vulcan to your notice?”
Jenusia’s father choose then to turn his eyes upon the Vulcan, studying him for another long moment as if wondering if he wished to acknowledge him after all. After more long seconds had passed, he finally consented. “You may, Jenu, daughter of Sia.”
Selkek found Lord Menothar to be a large, imposing male. He possessed jet-black shoulder-length hair and a full, black beard. He reminded Selkek of several images he had seen in an Earth museum once of a Babylonian king. But, Menothar was not the king; he was, however the Troyan king’s favored brother and with that distinction came an air of royal importance oozing from every pore.
With his large, bejeweled hand, Menothar gripped the handle of a dagger strapped at his hip as a ceremonial show of his authority in that room, he nodded in greeting.
“So,” his commanding voice boomed throughout the grand assembly hall of the embassy, “you are the Vulcan who would seek to put himself in the Pentaurian favor.”
Selkek took a single step forward, bowed his head again, and waited to be given permission to open his mouth. Unbeknownst to himself, this small gesture of deference had just earned a little of Menothar’s respect.
“You may speak freely, Selkek of Vulcan.”
Selkek took a knee. “I do not seek favor, my lord Meno, son of Thar, but I would be grateful for any insignificant notice you may make of me. If not, perhaps taking off my head will give you some small measure of satisfaction.”
Jenusia, from her position on the floor slightly behind Selkek, looked up, startled; Selkek had done his homework.
Lord Menothar stared down at him for a good, long while, and Selkek, believing that that perhaps he had not phrased the Troyan greeting properly, began to grow uncomfortable, until Menothar threw back his head and laughed heartily, his deep, throaty laugh reverberating throughout the chamber.
Menothar turned to his daughter. “I think I may like this Vulcan of yours!” He then turned back to Selkek. “And no, my Vulcan friend, I will not take your head—yet. But it is not my favor that is at stake today.”
Menothar clapped his hands and the thick tapestries all around the perimeter of the room that depicted the history of Troyius began lifting to reveal, to Jenusia’s utter astonishment, the entire retinue of Troyans who made a home on Earth. Her breath left her in an instant as her chest swelled with panic. Something was wrong, something about this assemblage was not right.
Menothar clapped his hands once again and servants appeared carrying cushioned seats that were set up on either side of her father’s throne just as several drums began to beat in the Troyan manner for signaling an arrival. Jenusia, still under her father’s orders, dared not turn her head, but it was not long before she had her answer.
Her mother, followed by three of the junior wives of her father’s household, entered, each pausing for a moment to lay one and only one hand on the top of Jenusia’s head. They did not acknowledge the Vulcan in any way. As soon as they had taken their seats at her father’s right, the trumpets heralded the arrival of someone else.
Out of the corner of her eye, Jenusia could just see Selkek bow. And when the new arrivals appeared in her peripheral vision, she nearly fainted at what she saw: Selkek’s parents, dressed very formally, entering the chamber behind a royal Troyan standard bearer. After Minister Skol and T’Vor had taken their seats upon the dais, Lord Menothar stood.
“My Troyan friends, I am honored that you made the time to gather with us today.” He turned slightly. “I also give welcome to out Vulcan guest’s; Minister Skol and his good lady. I thank you both for coming to earth at my request.”
Skol and T’Vor nodded very stoically and immediately lowered the mantle of Vulcaness, now appearing before all very disinterested in the proceedings.
Jenusia glanced up sharply; Selkek’s parents coming to Earth wasn’t a coincidence after all. Menothar instantly noticed the questioning look in his daughter’s eye.
“Yes my daughter, I see that you are surprised. Minister Skol and I have been communicating for several weeks now. Once they heard about their sons actions here on earth, they sought, as any concerned parent would, to know more of you. Since I too had been receiving my own reports from the Imperial Guard of your actions here on Earth I had a great curiosity to know more of your Vulcan friend myself. And since finally meeting Selkek’s parents in person today and hearing something of their son’s intentions, I am satisfied. And now that it is all settled, there is only one thing left to be done.”
Menothar raised his hands and made the pronouncement that would seal her fate.
“All those wishing to find favor with the Pentaurian may now present themselves.”
Selkek stood and moved forward to the dais. Since his back was to her, there was no way for Jenusia to catch Selkek’s eye in order to silently plea with him not to do this. Selkek seemed to be acting in a manner quite Troyan and had been since there arrival. The puzzle now began to fit together and Starfleet career that she so desperately wanted was fading fast.
A stunned Jenusia reacted by almost standing up, but a severe look from her father stayed her and she dared not move a muscle or speak. Her eyes told the story though and they instantly pooled with tears.
Selkek bowed deeply to the wives. Righting himself, he tried to determine which one it was who had glared at him from the screen the other morning. He could not tell them apart: they were all very similar in looks: all fair, all extremely tall, and all staring at him with suspicion and disdain. He had his answer the moment one of them stood and stepped forward to look down at him imperiously.
“So, my daughter,” the lady seethed, fixing Jenusia with a penetrating stare, “this is the Vulcan who has deigned to dally with you so unbecomingly.”
“Sia,” Menothar replied, hissing her name as a warning. “I do not remember giving you leave to speak freely. Be grateful that you have my favor and that I choose to overlook it.” Menothar sighed tiredly before speaking again. “And now, you may speak freely to Selkek of Vulcan, my wife, though gently—gently.”
Jenusia had not yet been granted permission to speak freely, so she was unable to say anything. Her mother continued to berate Selkek.
“What I demand to know is how you, Selkek of Vulcan, intend to make restitution to the Pentaurian for the liberties you have taken with the king’s niece!”
Selkek went on unthinkingly; unaware of the anguish that was going on behind him in order to satisfy the one standing before him.
“I freely give the Pentaurian all that I have and offer my most undeserving self, as a most devoted and loyal son.”
The tears Jenusia tried desperately to control, left her eyes and poured down her cheeks, but she found that no one spared one bit of attention for her. She was a Troyan female after all. A male, and a Vulcan male for that matter, presenting himself before her mother to make an application for the daughter’s hand was all anybody seemed to care about in that moment.
Lady Sia, not expecting to witness such a proud son of Vulcan humbling himself before her or to anyone, was absolutely thrilled and delighted. Finally, she thought, she would no longer be the laughing stock of the royal court for having a daughter of Jenusia’s advanced age and lineage, unmarried. She saw this for the opportunity that it was and was quick and jumped on it.
“Accepted!” cried Lady Sia before the Vulcan could change his mind.
This was said with a simultaneous and silent No! from Jenusia before she turned to her father and pleaded silently for him to put a stop to this.
Selkek, seeing Lord Men0thar looking down at his daughter and quite happy with himself in that moment, turned around quickly to share a smile with Jenusia. He was immediately taken aback by the wretched and tortured look on Jenusia’s face.
Selkek made to move in Jenusia direction but Lord Menothar stopped him with a raised hand. The entire assemblage grew hushed and still and watchful. Menothar stepped down from the dais and went to his daughter, took her in his arms, stroked her back tenderly, and whispered words into her ear that only she could hear.
“Jenu, my daughter, long have I indulged your fancies at the expense of my own happiness. Longer still have I endured your mother’s stinging tongue of disapproval and I grow weary. You well know by Troyan custom, Selkek has presented himself properly before the Pentaurian. Hear me and understand; I give you this choice, continue here on Earth, if you will, even in Starfleet, if you must, but you do so only at your husband’s approval and not any longer at mine. Bind yourself to the Vulcan tonight, or you journey home with us tomorrow and bind yourself to another.”
He had given her a choice, which, when when Jenusia thought about it, it really wasn’t a choice at all. Starfleet with Selkek or no Starfleet at all and go home and be married off to the first over-fed courtier who presented himself to her mother and begin to pop out Pentaurian heirs. Yes, she could go it alone, but to go against her father was to go against all of Troyius. And to forsake all of Troyius was tantamount to casting ones self upon the rocks of some forgotten and forbidding shore. Her beloved uncle the king and all of her family would be lost to her forever. Closing her eyes against the stinging tears she said nothing and bowed her head. She had made her choice, but in the end, by Tyvan’s beard, she would have it all on her terms.
Selkek was no less busy. He was looking at Jenusia this entire time expecting her to be happy and saw only tears. Wasn’t this the Troyan way? Had he done something wrong? He thought that she would be pleased, he thought she loved him, why else would she give herself to him so completely?
Menothar released his daughter and took his place upon the dais once more. Again he raised both hands. “Selkek of Vulcan,” he pronounced boldly before all, “you have made your intentions known; come forth my daughter, come forth and take Selkek’s hand.”
And Jenusia did step forward to take Selkek’s hand, but she did not look at him.
Menothar walked down the steps and reached out with both of his huge hands, placing one on the top of Jenusia’s head and the other on top of Selkek’s.
“By Tyvan’s beard, you are now one.”
He removed his hands from their heads and stepped over to his daughter, placing both of his hands on the top of her head.
“My daughter, you are restored as first in my heart with favor.” He then removed his hands took two steps over to Selkek and placed his hands on the top of his head. “And Selkek, Jenusia’s return to my favor, extends to you as well. He lifted his hands, took two steps back while smiling down benevolently upon the newly married couple. He spoke another command. “My wives, come forth freely and welcome our kinsman, Lord Selkek, son of the Pentaurian.”
Selkek and Jenusia were instantly caught up in a surge of well-wishes and greetings. The Troyans assembled seemed to steer Jenusia one way while his new mother’s-in-law steered him in the opposite direction. While Selkek received kisses from the tittering wives, Minister Skol and T’Vor were welcomed to the family by Menothar.
“Selkek,” said Lady Sia, “permit me to name your new mothers, Lady Wella, Lady Faro, and Lady Minwa. You must come to Troyus soon and meet my other sister wives; there are only five more.”
Selkek still somewhat troubled, sought to reassure the ladies. “I want to assure you, I will make Jenusia happy and take care of her to the best of my ability.
“But she is Jenusia no more,” said Lady Wella. “Now that she is a married woman, she will hereafter be known as Lady Jenu and her daughters will bare her name.”
Lady Sia sought to have her say as well. “And may you keep Jenu’s womb filled with many, many daughters, my son. Put this notion of Starfleet on uniforms out of her head.”
Selkek smiled weekly and bowed. He then looked to his left to see how Jenu faired, only to find his wife standing alone in a far corner, looking agitated and unsettled. He was just about to go to her, when he felt a large hand upon his shoulder.
“It has been this way since recorded time. A newly married Troyan female’s anger is likened to the water of a great river: always plentiful and ever flowing. Your new mother, Lady Sia, did not speak to me for a month after we first married, so set was her heart on summering in the lake region with her cousins. But I desired her as my wife and presented myself before her mother and it was done. Take heart, my son; Jenu’s ire will cool when she beholds the summer palace on Mount Sugunu I am giving you both as a wedding gift. Now, off with you, my son, there is no reason for you both to remain for the dinner; I assure you no one expects it. Go to my daughter, take her home, and whisper sweet words of affection into her ear. You will find favor with her once more. I am certain that she can not be so very different from her mother in that regard.”
As the guests all began to move towards the dining room, Jenusia’s head whipped around when she saw her husband approach. Selkek stood before her silently for a long moment and waited until the room was completely empty before he spoke.
“I thought—the Troyan custom was clear—I thought you would be pleased. You are truly angry, my wife?”
Jenusia winced at the word ‘wife’, but said nothing and merely turned on her heal and made for the exit. Selkek stood for a long moment not sure of what to do. Coming to his senses after nearly a minute he took off after her, only to see her rounding the high gate of the embassy and moving quickly towards the street.
“Jenu. Jenu. Please. Jenu, please stop. Please.” Catching up, he reached out and grabbed her by the elbow. He tried to spin her around to face him but she resisted and ran even faster. “Jenu. Jenu, please. Tell me what did I do wrong?”
That stopped her cold. She turned around.
“What did you do wrong? Seriously, Selkek? What did you do wrong?”
“I don’t understand. I acted in the proper Troyan way. I desired you and made my offer to your mother as I should have done.” He tried to take her hand then but Jenusia angrily jerked it away.
“Selkek, at first I was charmed by your naiveté; I found you sweet and unaffected. But what do I find now; just another man seeking to control me, to put his will upon me.”
“If it is the Academy that worries you, have no fear; I will permit you to complete you education there.”
She became incredulous. “Permit? Permit? Selkek, all I ever wanted was to have my own life, to prove to myself that I didn’t have to end up bound to man as just another empty-headed wife, first in a long line of other empty headed wives.”
Selkek furrowed his brow in confusion.
“But Jenu, surely you must know, Vulcan’s do not take multiple wives.
Jenusia just stared at him long and hard for a moment before she angrily shoved him squarely in the chest with both hands.”
“Are you really that stupid? This is not about being a wife; it is about not being married at all.”
“You–you do not wish to be bonded to me? But we have already joined of the body. I simply assumed—we joined– we became one–it is the Vulcan way.”
He was staring down at her with those innocent, boyish eyes of his. this only provoked her to push at his chest again.
“Just go away, Selkek! Go away! I can’t look at you right now.”
Selkek merely repeated himself. “I do not understand. We joined. We are joined of the body and tonight we must meld and join our minds.”
She screamed at him. “Didn’t you hear me; just go away, Selkek!”
“Go? Go where? You are my wife. Where am I to go?”
“I really don’t care. Why don’t you just go back to Vulcan?”
Selkek’s face contorted as if he was in physical pain. “I do not understand. You are my wife. We are now joined—”
She mocked him thought her tears. “I know: joined of the body.”
“But we–I love you.”
“Well, I don’t love you!”
He moved forward to grasp her shoulders to make her understand, but at the last moment, she raised her arms to prevent him from touching her. Selkek’s face crumpled and he staggered back, broken-hearted.
“I just thought—our marriage–.”
Jenusia watched as Selkek swallowed deeply and lowered his eyes to the ground. She very nearly succumbed, but immediately erected a wall around her heart.
She became eerily practical. “Our marriage will be dissolved quite easily. Since there are no children involved, praise Tyvan, a divorce can be granted in six months.”
“But I–I do not wish a divorce, Jenu. I am a Vulcan, there can be no divorce; we have joined of the body, we are connected for life; this is the Vulcan way.”
“Well, it’s not my way. I can’t Selkek; I just can’t. Do you understand? She began backing away. “Please, go back to Vulcan, Selkek, go back and shake the bells at your sisters wedding, and do what ever it is that you want to do. You’ll just have to do it without me.”
She then turned quickly walked away. Selkek stood dumbfound, calling after her.
“Jenusia, what is it that I am I to do? What am I to do now?”
She did not answer him and she did not look back. And Selkek just stood there, with his heart now shattered just as it began to rain.
He did not know how long he walked the city. He just wandered aimlessly. And the rain continued to pour down.
Well after midnight, he found himself quite near the Academy. He had no idea how he got there, his feet had simply directed him to the Presido area all on thier own.
Several meters down the sidewalk a group of loud young people were stumbling out of a drinking establishment. Some of them were in cadet reds, some more of them in civilian clothing. As the civilians moved west or south, the cadets all turned north, in the direction of the dormitories.
One of the cadets lagged several paces behind. She stumbled over her feet, obviously inebriated. Her companions paid no attention and kept on their way. Selkek made to move around her, however, in the very next minute, the female tripped over some loose, wet pavement and slammed her body into his. He caught her under her arms.
“Oops, goes the Orion.” She brushed her hair out of her face and looked up and smiled. “Sorry about that.”
Selkek said nothing; he just looked down at the mass of wet red hair, waiting for the female to extricate herself.
She finally righted herself spoke. “Hey, I think I know you.”
“We have never met before.”
She jabbed a single finger into his chest. “That doesn’t mean that I don’t know you.” Feeling the solid muscle underneath her finger, she investigated more fully with the rest of her hand. “Ooo, is that all you?”
Uncomfortable with the probing of his person, he released her and stepped back. “May I procure transport for you?”
She swayed on her feet. “Look, I know that your name is Selkek. I’m Gaila, Nyota’s roommate and I’ve heard all about you. There, now we aren’t strangers anymore.” She hooked her arm around his possessively. “Why don’t you walk me home instead? Besides, look at the state of you, cold, standing here in your wet robes, dripping, your clothes… clinging. Yes, we will both walk back to the dorm, together, where I will get you out of these wet clothes and warm you up—or perhaps we can warm each other.”
Selkek was hardly paying attention, but the thought of talking to Nyota just then was a logical course of action.
Gaila pulled at his arm, and Selkek, still dazed from his encounter with Jenusia, permitted himself to be led. And just as they both moved off, Selkek heard the words: my turn.
Author’s footnote: Oh, come on… it wasn’t “that” bad, was it? You knew it was coming. But I want to assure you that there is a method to my madness. BTW: A “forced” marriage is completely in canon. You may remember that the bride in the Star Trek episode Elann of Troyius, was given absolutely no choice in the selection of her marriage partner. Since Jenusia’s family is part of that culture as well, I just expanded on it a bit. And now, there in only one more chapter to go…
One more thing: I’m going into the hospital today (probably just as you all begin to read this). No worries, it is a routine surgery and I am supposed to be in and out quite quickly. I’ll be out of commission for a few days, though, so I won’t be able to respond to your comments (and surely after such an ending, there are bound to be comments). See you all in a few days, me lovelies.