Boyish Games

BOYISH GAMES

By Anna Perotti (aperotti@insinet.it)
English text edited by Sherna Comerford

SUMMARY: A very young Spock is lost in a Vulcan desert, along with his
Human cousin. Both the boys will learn something from the adventure.
DISCLAIMER: Star Trek is the property of Paramount Studios, the
following a non-profit work of fan fiction. No resemblance to any
individual, living or dead, is intended.

BOYISH GAMES

The aerocar moved, wavered terribly, advanced slightly, following a
weird, twisting, course, then suddenly went down and dropped onto a
sandy dune, raising a large dust cloud. A Human boy about fourteen got
out of the emergency porthole, pouring out all the curses he had had
time to learn in his short life, along with some he just invented for
the occasion. A Vulcan about the same age followed him. His gloomy
silence revealed no less annoyance.

“Mark, you told me you were able to drive it!” He said in the end,
without any effort to hide his disappointement.

“Shut up, Spock,” Mark snapped back, “don’t preach to me! I’ll have
enough of that from my father!”

An indignant eyebrow rose under the Vulcan’s bangs: HE worried about
his father! …

Mark’s father (Amanda’s elder brother) was a higly esteemed
agricultural implements trader. He had a great deal of business on
Vulcan, whose agriculture needed whatever technology could be found to
pull out from its impoverished ground food enough to sustain its
inhabitants, as thrifty as they were. Besides Amanda, uncle Sherman
was the nicest and kindest Human Spock knew (not that he knew many of
them). Surely he would not congratulate Mark on his smart behavior. He
would claim, in an unpleasantly high tone, that his son was an
“irresponsible idiot” (a judgement with which Spock was often inclined
to agree), but, in the end, the relief of having his silly son back
unharmed would win against any logic and the punishment would be
absurdly light.

But … Sarek! Spock shuddered as he thought about the stern, cool
gaze and the words, harder than *whorlik* stone, which would condemn
him: … how had he – he who had been raised with Surak’s principles
before him – been able to allow himself to be led by an illogical
Human in such a foolish undertaking? …

Indeed, the fact that to *borrow* Sherman’s rented aerocar had been
Mark’s idea, would not improve his position! Nor would it help that
Mark, in order to overcome his (unfortunately weak) resistence, had
repeatedly stated that he alredy had driven similar vehicles many
times, on Earth, and that he had done so with his father’s approval.
An approval, which only his father’s present absence (a very
unfortunate circumstance!) prevented him from obtaining again. An
audacious lie! … A lie so lacking in any logical background that
only a silly boy, fascinated by the prospects of driving himself for a
little while, could buy it. No! Sarek would not accept any excuses and
the punishment would be terrible! … For a moment, the young Vulcan
earnestly contemplated withdrawing into himself to an irreversible
degree.

In the meanwhile, Mark had taken off his shirt and, while letting out
his anger by kicking the sand, he was exposing his fragile human skin
to the combined rays of two suns, the biggest of which was quite near
its zenith. Spock shook his head and sighed – left by himself, Mark
would not survive very long in a desert. Even though mindless, he was
his cousin, after all! … Suicidal purposes had to be put aside.

Desert survival supplies were compulsory equipement on Vulcan
vehicles, as lifebelts are on boats or parachutes on high altitude
flyers. Spock took two antithermal cloaks out of their slots, under
the aerocar’s seats, and threw one of them to the Human:

“I would advise you to cover yourself or you will get seriously burnt,
at this time sun radiation’s intensity is …”

“Spare me the lecture!” Mark snapped back.

His cousin had the ability to drive him nuts. Whatever he did, that
one came out with the worst predictions and – most bothersome thing! –
facts usually proved him right.

“Hoodoo!” Mark muttered under his breath, while he submitted to
wearing the uncomfortable garment.

“Very well, Mr. Wisehead, what do you suggest now?” He wouldn’t have
admitted it even under torture, but he really hoped that his logical
cousin could get him out of trouble this time.

Spock had gone back into the aerocar and was studing its equipement.
The comm. device was out of order (or, at least, he couldn’t make it
work), but the computer appeared undamaged. It had even come to him
that, perhaps, by cleaning up the sand in the cooling system and
restoring some connections, he could try to start the vehicle again.
Neverthless he had already experienced Mark’s driving style and he had
had enough of it, for the day! Besides, secondary school programs did
not include aerocar repairs! He turned his attention to the computer
and calculated their position, using the few landmarks at hand.

“Mhmm … the Trih-shal Oasis is a day and half from here – we can
make it!”

“What a luck!” Mark said wryly. He wasn’t looking forward to a long
walk in the sun.

“Indeed,” Spock answered in all earnestness, “a very favourable
circumstance.” He took an antigrav-board from the aerocar and turned
it on.

“That’s a great idea, cousin!” Mark said, jumping to take a seat on
the board. “We’ll travel on it on shifts. And, since I’m the eldest,
I’ll take it first!”

Spock seized the board’s edge with both his hands and lifted it
abruptly, sending his cousin to tumble in the sand. “The board is for
supplies and equipement; we will walk!”

Mark said nothing, but looked at him with real hatred.

***

“Nothing yet?” Amanda looked eagerly at her brother. He looked back at
her in dismay. Since they had discovered that both their sons and the
aerocar were missing, Sherman had been glued to the comm. station. He
had alerted police, had checked with hospitals and desert Rangers; he
even had asked for help from some local farmers, who were his
customers.

“I shouldn’t have left him here alone!” he said, pacing restlessly to
and fro. “That boy is full of mischief; he must be watched closely!
… I shouldn’t even have brought him along! … The boarding school!
That’s where he belongs! An old fashioned boarding school, where he
couldn’t even raise his head!”

Accustomed, as she was, to the stern Vulcan discipline, Amanda had
often thought her brother too indulgent toward his children. He was
always too deep in his businesses to really understand their needs and
he had the tendency to let things be, to spare himself problems he
didn’t have time to handle. No wonder if those children claimed more
attention by putting themselves in worse trouble every time! But, now,
she thought he was doing just the opposite.

“Mark isn’t such a bad boy” she said quietly, “he’s only a bit high
spirited, as all boys are …” To try to reassure her brother helped
her to master her anguish.

“Your son isn’t. He has a good head on his shoulders.”

“On this occasion, I wouldn’t say so.”

“Surely Mark led him! He must have talked his ears off. I wonder what
lies he told him.”

Amanda didn’t answer. Sherman was quite likely right. Neverthless she
wasn’t really sure she liked the way he was putting it. It put her son
in the role of a good, but simpleminded child. It didn’t really
matter, anyway … if only nothing bad had occurred! Her brother had
gone back to the comm. and he was quite surely giving a hard time to
an austere police officer’s imperturbability; and about husband …
When he had been informed about what had happened, Sarek had said
nothing. He had locked himself in his study and was still there.
Likely, he was meditating over the “foolishness”, which had brought
him to merge his blood with that illogical alien breed. She felt
alone.

***

The last sun had settled down among the dunes. Spock finished
arranging the nightcamp, with a gloomy Mark’s help. The long journey
through the desert had been uneasy for both of them. Mark had
complained about heat, thirst and hunger, and Spock had had to
threaten to use his superior strenght to defend food and water
supplies, which, if he had allowed him, Mark would have wiped out in
the first hours of walking. In the end, anyway, the Human had given up
– though he was naturally restive at any discipline, he wasn’t so
foolish that he could not see the need of it, on such an occasion.

Spock, on his side, had come to understand that the Human boy, weaker
and less trained as he was, had to endure a greater effort than he
did. So he had resorted to stuffing part of the supplies into a
knapsack, which he could carry on his shoulders, and allowing Mark to
go through the last few miles sitting on the board. Wise choice,
since, as soon as he had settled on it, Mark had curled up, as if he
were a cat, and had fallen asleep, snoring like something decidedly
bigger than a cat.

Now he was awakening and seemed to be in a very bad mood. Spock
noticed he was moving clumsily – his muscles had to ache badly! Spock
took a bottle of tonic oil from the medikit:

“Massage your legs with this. It will ease the pain. Then be careful
to keep them well wrapped or the chill in the night will give you
cramps.”

After the meal (which the Vulcan, after he had calculated how much of
their supplies they still had, how long was the distance remaining and
their speed of travel -with Mark sitting on the board, of course! –
decided they could allow themselves a little extra), even Spock began
to feel a bit tired and thought he could use some sleep, but, quite
strangely, Mark did not.

A fourteen years old’s resources are endless! After massagging,
feeding and resting, Mark was back on his feet and was far from sleep.
He searched through his bag and took out a small black polished box –
it was the portable oloprojector, which his father used to show his
merchandise’s good qualities. Spock hadn’t been surprised, when his
cousin had insisted on rescuing it from the aerocar’s trunk. It had
seemed logical that he didn’t want to add the loss of the expensive
device to the other costs. But now, he wasn’t able to figure out what
Mark might have in mind to do with it. It seemed unlikely that he
wished to entertain him with a show of how the lastest model of
automatic eight speed irrigator, along with its rabdomant probe and
drill, would work! … He did not. From a pocket in his trousers, the
Human took out a microcard, which didn’t seem to belong to his
father’s sample collection.

“This one” he said exulting, “I found in a Rigelian pornoshop. They
aren’t too stiff about age, down there!”

Spock had heard about that last detail, but what could a *pornoshop*
be? Curious, he readied himself to watch. As soon as Mark turned the
device on, a female figure took shape before their eyes. She was very
well defined and seemed to be … (uh?) … going to bathe? … surely
she was undressing herself, but, whatever the purpose of such an
activity could be, she did not seem to be in haste … In fact, every
time she took off a piece of clothing (she had a lot of them; some
were quite odd and – so it seemed to him – wholly useless), she made a
number of weird, totally unessential, gestures.

“What do you think? She’s fantastic, isn’t she?” Mark said in an
unpleasantly excited voice. Spock considered for a while before
answering. Suddenly he felt overrun with a strange, totally
inexplicable, restlessness:

“Mhmm, … it seems to me a quite illogical way to undress,” he was
able to say, in the end.

Mark looked at him incredulously, wondering if his cousin was retarded
or … bah! Just fancy if that killjoy would mess up that kind of fun!
He wrapped himself in the blanket, (don’t forget to cover your legs
carefully! … phew, as if he were his old aunt! …), turned off the
projector angrily and went to sleep.

For a second, the dancing shape remained still, frozen in the act of
flinging up a pair of sequined panties, then vanished. Spock continued
to look at the dark for while, feeling a bit of regret. Indeed, the
last part of the performance had shown him some details of the female
body, which he only had had occasion to see sectioned on anatomical
tables and he had gotten a wholly different impression. Interesting!
… He went to sleep wondering if ever, in his life, he would have
occasion to visit a Rigelian pornoshop.

***

With renewed eagerness, Amanda gazed at the police shuttlecraft, as it
flew up and went away. Her husband and her brother were on board. She
had wished to accompany them, but Sarek had stated that it was more
logical that she wait at home. She had not wished to cross him
further, but was certain that logic had nothing to do with his
decision. It rather seemed to her a sort of punishment for … her
Human blood, as the indirect cause of Spock’s heedless behaviour. When
news had come that their children had safely reached the Tri-shal
Oasis and were in the care of the local assisting service, Amanda and
Sherman had embraced each other and cried, letting out all the anxiety
of those terrible hours. Sarek had simply raised an eyebrow, had
requested to be given a mean of transport to go immediately to the
place and, with dignified aloofness, had waited for the two Humans to
put and end to that reprehensible emotional outburst. There had been
no way to get from him a word about what he had in mind to do with the
boy, but his look let her know it would be nothing good. Perhaps for
the first time in many years, Amanda felt that it would be too hard to
accept her husband’s stern intrasigence.

***

Mark went on pacing restlessly in the waiting room, proving his
remarkable resiliance after covering thirty miles of desert. Spock sat
on a bench, holding a glass of kwala juice, and watched him tiredly.
During the day, his cousin had offered him a very extensive display of
Human behaviours. When he had awakened him, in the morning, to resume
their journey, Mark had been listless and disgruntled. He hadn’t
spoken to him for a long while and had been peevish all the way.
When, later, some little changes in the scenery had began to suggest
that they were coming to their goal, he had gotten suddenly euphoric.
Although both suns were high in the sky and even Spock was feeling
uncomfortable because of the heat, he had started running and jumping
around while singing: “I’m tall, I’m handsome, I’m strong – and my
cock is ten feet long!” Which had led Spock to think about Human
tendendy to falsehood. Indeed, although he was a few months older,
Mark was barely up his shoulder; his face, alredy strewn with
freckles, was now also scattered with juvenile acne; as a Vulcan, he
didn’t feel up to evaluating a Human’s strength, but about the other
thing … no need to comment!

Now, he seemed to be on tenterhooks.

“Mark, please, try to restrain yourself and sit down!” he told him,
noticing a disapproving look from a nurse. Reluctantly, Mark sat down
near his cousin, and remained looking straight ahead for a while,
torturing his fingers and cracking his knuckles.

“Spock,” he said finally, “… I’m sorry to have dragged you into such
an adventure, … I got you in trouble beacause of a silly whim …”

Spock was taken aback by the admission – it was exacly what he himself
had thought until then, but … to hear it from him … His inborn
honesty led him to think better of it.

“I am as responsible as you are. You did not compel me. I was aware
that it was a wrong thing to do, but I preferred not to think about
it. I acted illogically …”

“I shouldn’t have asked you, anyway. Though …” Mark went on,
encouraged by Spock’s sympathetic attitude, “I was lucky that you
agreed to come along. If I’d been by myself, I’m sure I would still be
there, eaten by vultures!” He shuddered at the thought.

“Impossible!” Spock answered earnestly. “… By lematyas, perhaps, or
by girswals, but not by vultures …”

“Wait a minute! Don’t tell me … There aren’t vultures on Vulcan?”

“No, there are not.”

“Damn it, Spock, you are incredible!” Mark said in a plaintive voice.
“Perhaps it’s because I’m not too familiar with logic, but I never can
keep the thread of what I’m saying with you!” Then, without paying
attention to his cousin’s questioning look, he became more earnest:

“What do you think they will do with you?”

Spock shrugged: “It does not matter what the punishment will be. As
bad as it might be, it will not last for ever. It matters what my
father will think of me …”

“Oh, the old ones are never satisfied!” Mark said in an experienced
tone. “It isn’t worth being concerned about that!”

“You do not understand … I behaved as … a Human!”

“So what? … You are half Human! Do you think that, if your father
thought that badly of it, he’d have married aunt Amanda? What the hell
does he want?” He added indignantly – he never had liked uncle Sarek
much. “It wasn’t you who asked him for a Human mother!”

Mark spoke in a very rude way. Spock never would have dared to
formulate such disrespectful thoughts. Neverthless (he had to admit
it) the reasoning had some logic – decidedly more than he would have
expected from his cousin …

***

The aerocar glided quietly low, skimming over the rocky peaks, which
rose, here and there, in the endless stretch of sand. Inside, it was
totally quiet. Sherman glanced at his brother-in-law’s impassive face.
He felt responsible for Spock, to whom – he was certain – he owed his
son’s life. Once more he cursed the day that he had thought to bring
Mark along on the business trip. He had hoped that a few days, spent
in the company of the more judicious Spock, would have a good effect
on his rebelious son. He still didn’t know how, but Mark would have to
pay for his rashness, this time.

“Sarek,” he ventured, “do you mean to punish your son?”

“Obviously. Spock betrayed our trust. He made himself guilty of theft
and deceit.”

“But, surely, Mark pushed him! And, anyway, they must have survived
thanks to Spock. Mark never would have been able to find a way out of
the desert!”

“Merely guessing!” Sarek disdainfully said.

“Logical deduction!” the other man said back. Silence fell again
between them, but the Human came to hope the he had been able to
insinuate a doubt in that Vulcan stubborn head. His vendor’s instict
told him that it was time to push forward.

“What do you have in mind for the boy?” ha asked abruptly.

Sarek was startled by that direct question; it wasn’t a subject he
wanted to argue with an Earthman, used to adressing problems on
emotional ground. He had been able to elude his wife’s mute pleas, but
now he couldn’t help but answer.

“I will entrust him to the Masters to be re-educated …”

Now it was the Human’s turn to be startled. He knew enough of Vulcan
customs to understad what such a project meant. The boarding school,
which he had considered first for Mark, appeared a prize-winning
vacation in comparison. Sympathy made him forget caution:

“Damn it, Sarek,” he exclaimed vehemently, “don’t you think you’re
overreacting? He’s just a boy who made a mistake! … All boys do, now
and then! Or, perhaps, you Vulcans are all born infallible? … I
would bet that even you, as a teen-ager, did something wrong!”

He immediately regretted the last sentence. It was clear that Sarek
did not like it. He had withdrawn again in the most absolute silence,
his gaze blank and fixed ahead, his face impassive, as if carved in
stone. He seemed light years away. “Damn me!” Sherman thought, “I
deserve a son like Mark! My common sense is no better than his.”

“My grand-father had an automobile, …” Sarek’s voice was little more
than a whisper, but it sounded as a brass-band to the amazed Human’s
ears, “a highly worthy antique piece. I was fifteen years old, … I
did not … I wanted …” he seemed at a loss for a moment, but
regained his composure. “I just wished to understand how it worked,
… merely a scientific interest; but he did not allow me to touch it
… I was occasionally a guest in his house and I happened to me to be
there alone for a few hours … I went in the garage and succeded in
starting the engine and making the car move a short way into the
garden. Unfortunately, that ancient vehicle had very complicated
controls … There was a huge *kreiwx* tree just in the middle …”

“Hear, hear …” Sherman pitylessly commented, as soon as he recovered
from the astonishment. Then, also pitylessly, he asked:

“And … did you get punished?”

“My father wanted me to spend a month in the most remote place among
our mountains, meditating about my disobedience …”

“He could have killed you!” his brother-in-law mocked him. Sarek
ignored him.

“Instead, my grand-father decided that I had to spend my vacation
working as an apprentice in a factory owned by an acquaintance of his,
until I had repaid the damage …”

“That’s a more logical idea, in my opinion!” Sherman said, purposely
stressing the word *logical*.

“Mhmm … yes, I must agreed the it has a certain amount of logic …
Neverthless, later I became aware of a most unexplicable fact …”

“That is?”

“The factory owner did not need an apprentice at all. He hired me only
to please my grand-father, who secretely paid him back my whole
salary.”

Sherman was about to burst out laughing, but checked himself.

“Really don’t you understand? You surprise me, brother-in-law! It’s
simple. Your grand-father didn’t need the money, which surely he
didn’t lack. He only wished you to understand the value of things and
the need to respect other people’s belongings. Making you believe that
you were working to repay him, he made you face your responsibility,
but, to do so, he didn’t need to take advantage of that gentleman’s
courtesy.”

“You are right. It would have been illogical.” Sarek admitted, looking
at his brother-in-law with increased respect. “Do you think that such
a solution could also suit our sons?” Suddenly, he realized that,
since they had acted together, it would be fair to punish them both in
the same way.

“I’m sure of that. More, I have some ideas about it. Just yesterday, I
visited Sarpel’s farm. He still has to pay me for a few supplies and
he also needs a new enzimatic inciter, but his last harvests were lean
and he must be in difficulty. I’m sure that, if I forgive him part of
his debt and I grant him a good extension for the rest, he will be
happy to find something for our boys to do!”

“It is logical to expect that he will consider your proposal
favorably, “Sarek quietely agreed, “but will it not be too hard, for
Mark, to work among Vulcans?”

“Oh, it will do him a lot of good! … I’m worried about the opposite,
instead. There are many young women working on that farm. I’m afraid
they aren’t prepared to stand a Human teen-ager’s courtesies …”

“Mhmm … I think I understand what you mean. I did not think about
it. But is he not too young? …”

“To be really dangerous? Of course! But he is old enough to want to
try. Some of the young ladies might find him a little …
disconcerting.”

A very light grimace went swiftly over Sarek’s face – it might have
been the hint of a smile.

“I think that, if previously fairly advised, those young women might
find the experience interesting, even instructive …”

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