Author’s note: Finally, we make it down to the planet. I hope this answers many of your questions as to how the Vulcan people are dealing with everything.
The landing party beamed down to the middle of an expansive courtyard. Arranged in a semi-circle, the area surrounding them consisted of several large, black, monolithic stones which towered over their heads. Beyond the stones, at a short distance away nestled in a valley there appeared to be a settlement. This group of buildings were modest and serviceable befitting the Vulcan circumstances, but this new place, this town was by no means half the size of a city such as Shi’Kahr on the Vulcan home world.
Scans of the planet upon approach proved that the population of Haven, or rather, Rau Tor Vuhlkansu, as they would call it whilst living amongst the Vulcan people, was somewhat larger than the ten-thousand inhabitants previously thought. This was hardly surprising considering the general reports within the Federation suggesting that many Vulcan’s living and working on other planets had rejoined their people.
Uhura, acting in the instance as Kirk’s protocol adviser due to her familiarity of the Vulcan language and her knowledge of the finer points of their customs, reflected for a moment on the detailed schedule that they would be expected to follow on their first day on the planet.
They had been told that they were to be greeted by several members of the Vulcan High Council, followed by a visit to the newly constructed Hall of Vulcan Thought, were, the Captain, as Starfleet’s official representative, would give his Speech of Condolences. Following that somewhat solemn gathering, they were to be immediately shown to their lodgings. Once settled there, they would receive a mid-day meal, a rest interval, and after, they were to be taken on a tour of the compound.
While she was going over this list in her head, she happened to glance in McCoy’s direction. The doctor appeared, not surprisingly, agitated, showing, even for himself, early signs of impatience and restlessness. He tugged at his collar, began mumbling about the heat and the dust, lamented over the need for spit and polish, and finishing his soliloquy with the observation that he was a doctor not a diplomat.
“What did you say, Bones?” asked Kirk, who hadn’t been listening at all because he was far too busy looking about himself at the planet that was the new home to the diminished Vulcan people.
“I said, it’s a little hot; makes my uniform feel like a noose around my neck!”
“Vulcans prefer it on the hot side, Bones; you know that. Besides, it does look a little like their home world: desert-like, though not quite as rocky. I wonder where everyone is?”
Uhura, who had been silent and a little on edge for reasons she kept to herself, took a step forward and nodded across from the transporter platform towards a shield-like structure.
“You will need to announce our arrival by sounding the gong, sir. The reception committee will only approach when they hear its call.”
Kirk did as he was bid, and moments later began looking in all directions, waiting.
“Our hosts approach, I can hear them,” said Uhura, turning towards a stone archway on the right and mechanically straightening her dress uniform.
“I must be getting old,” replied McCoy, “I don’t hear a thing.”
Then, as if carried on the wind, he heard them, the first strains of distant bells, or something very similar, ringing in answer to their summons. As the sound grew louder and louder by turns, McCoy sidled up next to Uhura and asked, “How does that Vulcan salute go again?”
Uhura held up her right hand, third and fourth fingers splayed into a v-shape.
McCoy tried to copy her, only to give up seconds later. “That hurts worst than the uniform!” he exclaimed, testily.
Uhura glanced to the captain and watched him closely while he put on his serious face, the one he saved for times such as this, which she knew meant that he was concentrating on his own Vulcan greeting in his head.
A few minutes later, the procession finally entered. Four large Vulcan males carrying what looked like large shafted blades and dressed in the silver uniforms of the council guard, buffeted the the entire group of elaborately attired individuals who the landing landing party took as members of the High Council. One of the individuals, an older female dressed and veiled in black, who was carried in a elevated chair by two bearers, lead the way. She was followed by Sarek himself, who was followed by younger male and a young female.
An introduction of the elderly female was hardly necessary, for she was easily recognized and well-known throughout the galaxy. She was T’Pau, the the head of State, tantamount to Queen as one would say in the earthly vernacular.
Vulcans, to most uninformed on uninterested off-worlders, appeared on the outside to be a patriarchal society as it was the males who made up the vast majority of diplomatic or scientific postings. However, when anyone cared to take investigate further and to study their customs, which wasn’t very often, it was quickly proven to be the exact opposite, and T’Pau, as their leader, was commonly referred to about the Federation as all of Vulcan in one package.
Sarek, Spock’s own father, with his years of diplomatic experience, was now the head of the Vulcan government and when the bells stopped ringing suddenly, it was he who was the first to come forward to the group from the Enterprise to offer the official greeting.
Uhura swallowed involuntary. She wondered at the kind of reception she would receive from the former ambassador. Sarek had known for a while now that she and Spock had a romantic relationship, or rather, that they once had one. And even though Spock rarely spoke about his father other than casually mentioning his health, she was totally in the dark if Sarek looked upon her as the reason that his son had not rejoined his people.
“Captain Kirk,” said Sarek in English while bowing his head slightly, “You are most welcome here amongst us.”
The Captain took one step forward. “Administrator Sarek, we are honored to be invited,” Kirk said in perfect Vulcan, his hand raised in greeting. “We come to serve.”
If Sarek was surprised by the excellent pronunciation of the young captain, he did well to conceal it. He now raised his own hand in return.
“Your service honors us. “ And, without missing a beat or acknowledging the two others from the Enterprise, he turned. “Permit me to name my companions, Captain.” Sarek stepped aside to reveal those behind him. He nodded to indicate the elderly woman on the litter. “This is T’Pau, Matriarch of the Vulcan people and the keeper of the Katric ark.”
“Yes, of course, ma’am; an honor,” said Kirk, straightening first and then bowing low in deference the person before him.
T’Pau nodded slightly in acknowledgment.
“We welcome thee to Rau Tor Vuhlkansu, Captain Kirk.”
Sarek then indicated the other Vulcan male. “And this is the Vice Administrator, Somec.”
The male, who looked entirely too young to hold such an elevated office, now stepped forward.
“Sir, an honor,” replied Kirk, bowing again.
Somec nodded solemnly and he, along with T’Pau turned curious eyes to Kirk’s companions and waited silently. Kirk had naturally expected an introduction of the young female, but then, with none forthcoming, he made his own introductions.
“Please allow me to introduce two of my senior officers. This is Lieutenant-Commander Leonard McCoy, the Enterprise’s chief medical officer.”
Somec nodded politely, but T’Pau, seemingly unconcerned, had turned to the human female.
“And thee are called?”
Uhura blinked, startled to be addressed directly by T’Pau herself.
“Lieutenant Nyota Uhura, ma’am.”
T’Pau raised one eyebrow slowly before she spoke.
“Yes,” she drawled, “we have heard thy name before.”
Uhura, if she didn’t know any better, would have sworn that T’Pau was voicing clear disapproval of her person, if she could even make herself believe that Vulcan’s could express something like disapproval. T’Pau then turned her gaze back to the captain.
“I do not see Spock among thy party, Captain Kirk. It displeases me to see his exclusion here today.”
Kirk turned on his most charming smile.
“I am sorry, ma’am; but as my first office, Commander Spock has the command of the Enterprise in my absence. Not to worry, when his obligations permit, he will be able to beam down. Furthermore, he will be at the reception which we have arranged on board the Enterprise in a few days; you may depend upon seeing him then.”
T’Pau stared blankly at Kirk, clearly unaffected by his boyish smiles or his charm. But Sarek came to his son’s defense.
“Of course. My son has his duties. We must understand.”
Kirk nodded politely. But Sarek wasn’t finished.
“We are pleased that you were able to accept our invitation. Every Vulcan has a debt to the Enterprise that we can never repay.”
Kirk merely shook his head and replied sedately. “Talk of repayments is unnecessary amongst good friends, Administrator Sarek.”
“Nevertheless, many have expressed interest in making the acquaintance of the crew of the Enterprise. Even now, many have gathered in the Hall of Vulcan Thought to greet you.”
Kirk bowed to acknowledge the compliment.
“And after the rest interval,” continued Sarek, “there is much we wish to show you of our new home. I hope you will allow me to show you personally, Captain.”
Kirk smiled, “I would be delighted.”
“And Doctor McCoy,” said Sarek, “if you find it agreeable, our Medical Administrators wish me to express their interest in allowing them the opportunity to review the new healing facilities with you.”
McCoy’s face lit up with enthusiasm, no doubt pleased in the chance to be away from diplomatic protocol and formal etiquette for the rest of the day.
Sarek then turned a cautious eye towards Uhura, this being the first time he had even looked her way.
“Lieutenant Uhura, after your rest interval, you will be escorted by another.” Uhura looked toward Somec for conformation, but Sarek obviously had other plans, and nodded towards the young Vulcan female who, up until that point had been silent and unobtrusive in the background. She now came forward and bowed her head.
“This is she who is my aide, T’Lin.”
T’Lin had long black hair that fell past her waist, and she was extremely pretty, with delicate features. She also seemed far too young to have such a position, even by Vulcan standards, but then, on a planet now with so few, aides of any age were probably difficult to come by.
Sarek spoke again. “T’Lin will see to all your needs for the rest of the afternoon, Miss Uhura.
Uhura got the distinct impression that she was being dismissed, passed off to an underling that nobody had even bothered to introduce until it became necessary. Kirk however, sensing her distress, threw her an encouraging smile as they all turned and followed after the procession. As they walked, she began to speculate again just what Spock had communicated with his father, for clearly Sarek did not wish her to be a member of his private tour with Captain Kirk. She hated to admit it, but she was more than a little hurt by it all.