Chapter 20 – The Golden Age

Location: Mount Seleya

Year 2450 (Sixty One Years Later)

Elizabeth reached for the hand on her face, set it down by the side of her companion, stood up and looked around the Hall of Contemplation. The two of them occupied a small intimate space within the Hall but she looked beyond them to the wall and the alcoves carved into the stone of the Mountain and the Arks set within each Alcove.

In the four corners of the hall torches flickered endlessly, piercing the darkness with their light. Above the alcoves set into the towering walls were the most intricate reliefs and motifs, which celebrated the most profound wisdom of the Kia’Shara, other than that the Hall suffered no adornment.

She took a small piece of linen from the folds of her robes and knelt down again in front of her companion and wiped away her tears. Her companion looked across at Elizabeth. “Shall we ascend?”

The two of them walked out of the hall and turned to their left, taking the winding staircase to the summit of the Mountain. They walked in step to a gentle rhythm until they came out on the summit. The square was empty. It was a perfect night, the stars twinkled in the firmament. Elizabeth had never before entered this place, hewn out of rock and laid with the most exquisite mosaic floor. In the centre, the bier.

Her mother walked toward the Gong and she interrupted her. “Mother, you have not told me everything. Please speak the words of the final part of the story.” T’Pol looked at her daughter, the perfect embodiment of the beauty of her father and mother. Her long blond tresses swept off her head, hidden beneath her hood. But there was no denying her piercing hazel eyes and the elongated elegance of her ear lobes. Nor the magnificent setting of her sculpted face.

She looked at the bier, walked towards it and touched Trip’s face, inert but still beautiful in death. Would he want her daughter to know?

T’Pol beckoned her to the edge of the square “Sit, my daughter, and I will tell you of the beauty of our joining and a little more of the honour of your father.”

_____________________________________

“As I recall, the harvest was now over. It was late summer and the weather that year in France was glorious. The Mistral was still some weeks away. As you know each day, Laris provided us with a picnic. We would hitch our packs and run round the vineyards and on to the pool, where we swam and relaxed in the sun by the riverside.

“One day, we seemed to have a particular energy, I remember it to this day. We ran round the track that skirted the hill and sprinted to our Picnic spot. I was now an accomplished swimmer and needed no encouragement when we arrived. I stripped off and dived in, leaving your father in my wake. After the heat of the run, the pool was the perfect antidote. He was in a playful mood and shouted over to to me, “So, you like water now?” “Indeed!” “Well, get a load of this,” as he shunted a great spray of water at me. I was drenched. I opened my mouth to breath and then sank down, out of sight. I didn’t come up… and I think, daughter, for the rest of the tale you must join with me. There are somethings even a mother cannot speak. T’Pol melded with her daughter.

________________________________________

Location : Elizabeth’s Mind

Trip began to panic looking round for her, knowing they were swimming in the deepest part of the pool. Suddenly, he felt powerful hands around his waist as he was dragged and pulled to the bottom. She held him down. He pointed to his mouth I need to breath : Indeed, would you like help? : I need to go up : I think there are other options you can consider : Don’t fool around, T’Pol, I need to surface and with that T’Pol wrapped herself around him and brought her face up close to his and placed her lips on his. Open. Trip needed air. He did as he was told.

She breathed out and Trip took her breath and then the revelation came. She wasn’t just sharing oxygen, she was passing her etheric body into him. He felt the glow and power of supercharged energy spread. Everything changed. Wrapped around each other, deep down in the river, they began spinning around, searching each other out. She was no longer just sharing her oxygen: they were exploring each other, turning faster and faster. And then another change: they slowed right down.

It was as if they were performing a ballet under water. They moved as one, in slow motion. The world slowed down. Time stood still, as they pirouetted around in the depths. Trip had changed: he was capable of things he could not have done before. Her lips remained on his as they turned over and over until the sunlight burst through as they reached the surface. Still, they continued to roll and pitch until finally, breathless, after minutes on end they came apart.

They swam hard for the bank and jumped out of the river. T’Pol leapt at him. He caught her and pulled her up on him. She cleaved to him, her arms around his neck and legs around his waist. He held her by her thighs and gently lowered her, entering her.

He held her to him and walked toward their mat and eased her down, a look of wonder on his face. What is happening? : It is not me, it is not you, it is ‘us’, the pon farr of the Bond : Is this normal? : I don’t not think so but it is wonderful, is it not?

Was it the years of uncertainty gone, of obligations to others settled, of an impossible love that had become possible that drove them to endless heights of release? Or destiny calling to a blending of the three races?

_______________________________________

Trip woke to the sound of running water and singing of birds. He had never felt so calm, so content. He put his shirt and shorts back on and went to the water’s edge. Is the answer to ‘why have I been saved‘ in this? And then he realised what had been staring him in the face all the time: He was now open to options he had considered in the saddest of times to be for others, not for himself. That is why he had been saved.

T’Pol came up silently behind him. She took her index finger and second finger and stroked the underside of his hand and passed it round and down the back of his hand.

Trip turned to face her. He looked down into her huge eyes. He verbalised, “Urm, I have always prided myself on being a gentlemen.” She raised an eyebrow. “And it occurs to me I have made a dishonest woman out of you.” A flick of the head and two raised eyebrows. “So… ” “You want my hand in marriage? Is that how it goes for you Humans?” Trip, still mesmerised, “Something like that.” “Well, it is logical. It is agreeable to me, and therefore… I accept.” She placed her arms around his neck and played with his bottom lip, his top lip and then accepted his kiss.

_____________________________

They walked hand in hand back to the Chateau, not with their picnic things packed in romantic french baskets but in ultra modern 24th Century Sacks strapped to their backs, nevertheless this was a day oozing with romance. It was in the colour of the sky, the gentle breeze, the sound of birds singing, everything.

They reached the path that skirted the Lake. T’Pol turned and stopped Trip so they were looking across at each other. “You know, you were right about me not knowing who I was.” Trip sighed, almost a sense of ‘you do not need to do this’. “Lorien’s mother said you were the one that could help me, that should have been enough. But it wasn’t. I am sorry for all the pain my indecision caused you.”

Trip took her hand and looked down as he spoke. “You don’t need to try and rewrite history, T’Pol. This thing between us, and I don’t just mean the Bond, has always been much bigger than we were able to grasp. We just needed to catch up, find that out and find a way of just being us, of coping with it.” He smiled at her, “I have always wanted you just as you are now, no Bond, no big deal Vulcan whose father was Romulan. Just an amazingly beautiful smart woman: that’s the bit I want to spend the rest of my life with.”

She looked up at him, a thoughtful look on her face. “And that kind of answer explains exactly how you can help me, and why I need you.” Trip laughed. “You know, T’Pol, you must be the only woman in the universe who got the chance to take advice from your older self… and took no notice. Talk about stubborn…” T’Pol turned on him, “Well if you hadn’t been such a… smart arse over it, maybe I would have listened.” Trip picked her up and ran to the edge of the Lake, “What did you call me?” She looked at him hard, “Don’t you even think of it.” He dropped her down on her feet and cupped her face in his hands and gave her the most tender of kisses. “You’re not the only smart one round here. Come on, we have an appointment with an old friend of ours.”

Wine Cellar:
Early Evening

Jean-Luc had passed through the main Cellar Room to the more intimate smaller one, where the best years were held. “Honestly, Jean-Luc I really think a ’70 would go well with the Coq au vin. There is a certain amount of poetic licence, don’t you think?” Jean-Luc continued to look at the racks and laughed. “I tend to agree, Q. A ’64 lacks a certain imagination.” Jean-Luc turned to him, “Are you joining us for dinner?” Q smiled “I am touched mon ami, but alas no.”

Q picked up a bottle. “Really, what is the fascination with the fermentation of grapes? I mean, we provided you with the grapes: why can’t you just eat them instead of putting them through this tiresome process?” Jean-Luc looked at Q surprised. “Q, you of all people should understand. You take something raw, undeveloped, on a journey and it evolves into something more sophisticated and more civilised. I would have thought, Q, you would approve and endorse such an approach.” Q smiled, “Actually I do. You know that. I am only teasing.”

“So, why are you here?” “Oh I think you know very well why I am here, Jean-Luc. To celebrate the success of our modest little joint venture. The narrative has been a little adolescent at times, dripping in the kind of drama favoured by that playwright you so admire. What’s his name, Marlow?” Jean-Luc raised his eyebrows in frustration.”No, Q. Shakespeare.” “But on the whole, I am impressed. As for the Romulans: dear oh dear. Well thank goodness they have dropped the shoulder pads – at least that’s something. That reminds me, Jean-Luc, I should warn you. This hiding away: it won’t last.” And with that he was gone.

Jean-Luc chose the ’70 and locked the cellar. Yes, I think this will be just perfect for tonight. Q really is mellowing. As to his warning, he very much doubted it.

Three Hours Later

The room was in darkness, save for the light of a single candle. T’Pol stood on one side, Trip on the other, gazing at each other through the shadows. She was dressed in the cream she had worn the night of the Mind Meld. Trip was in the garments T’Les had provided for him, the ones he had worn in another time, but not to participate, as now, rather to look on in anguish. They initiated the Space.

Trip struck the Gong: it was the note of “Calling”. They looked across the Space as he came to them.

“The third challenge has been the greatest of all and now, at long last, you stand on the brink of your destinies. The great mystery is laid bare. You have chosen what Vulcan’s call ‘koon-ut-kal-if-fee’ and mankind ‘marriage’. As you will go on so shall you start with a blending, for from you hope can spring for all for Vulcan, for Terran and for Romulus. Let us begin.”

He turned to Trip.

“A part of what ye are about to witness comes down from the time of the beginning without change. This is the Vulcan Heart, this is the Vulcan Soul, this is Our Way. Kalifarr!

T’Pol remained unmoved. There was no Kalifee, no challenge. Once again, Trip stroked the Gong, making “The Claim.”

He turned to T’Pol

“And for you binding with this man is a great act of reciprocation, as it has been since the dawn of time.

T’Pol and Trip knelt before each other and took the first two fingers of each hand and crossed them over. And so it began. A blending of Man and Vulcan, a blending of their traditions ….and the fulfilment of their Bond.

V’Lor stood over them and placed a hand on T’Pol’s bowed head and initiated the first of the Four Demands.

The first, to T’Pol: “Art thou prepared to be bound through the depths of time to this man?”

T’Pol, “As it was in the dawn of our days, as I am today, as it will be for all tomorrows.”

He put a hand on Charles Tucker 3rd.

The second:“Doest thou claim this woman?”

Charles Tucker, “It is I who made the ancient claim, the woman is mine.”

and again of Trip, he made the third: “Art thou prepared to be bound through the depths of time to this woman?”

Trip, “As it was in the dawn of our days, as I am today, as it will be for all tomorrows.”

He put a hand on T’Pol.

The fourth: “Does thou accept the claim of this man?”

T’Pol, “I accept.”

V’Lor placed a hand on each of their heads, the moment of “Conjoinment” when each became the other, when they were no longer two identifiable souls, but one glorious one.When the Bond that had emerged amongst so much confusion over two centuries ago, finally reached attainment.

“Thee have both made and accepted the Claim, in this Hall of the Ancients.” As he spoke they began to sense and feel they were no longer simply within the Space but in the presence of a single shining light, in a vast ancient building amidst a circle of Khatric Arks. V’Lor was merely a voice, “where reside your ancestors, your peers and the Guardians of the future.” and beyond the arks something else, something familiar… but unfathomable. And then… the vision was gone. They were knelt before V’Lor.

V’Lor looked down upon them and gently lifted his hands from their heads. He gestured, signalling them to rise. They stood across from each other, their eyes shining, their hearts on fire. A beautiful coy smile on Trip’s face and a look of wonder on T’Pol’s.

He beckoned them toward each other. They reached out and held hands as he gave the final blessing: β€˜Now the Union is made, let it magnify. For now and all time.” “For now and all time.” they repeated in unison. Finally, they came together and embraced and their passion burst across them. And as they came together he bowed, withdrew and dissolved into the mists of time.

And as if waking from a dream, a minute, an hour later their lips parted and they found themselves alone. The candle still burning in their room.

Trip took T’Pol by the hand and lead her out onto the balcony. They held each other and looked up into the night sky. T’Pol asked Trip, “Where were we?” He kept on looking at the night sky and tugged at her. “Oh, out there, somewhere.”

_________________________________________________

One Hour Later

They walked into the dining room. All three were waiting for them; they gently clapped. Jean-Luc smiled at them and nodded. “This is not the time for trite remarks and the popping of corks. We will sit, eat and share the company of these happy people on the night of their marriage. If I have learned anything in my life’s journey, and been powerfully reminded of it these past few weeks, it is this:

β€œIt is the stars, the stars above us, govern our conditions.”

“Now, Laris, let us eat!”

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