In the Name of Friendship – A Star Trek Short Story

The story of Saavik’s “origin” has been presented many times. DC Comics did a version which didn’t jibe at all with Vonda McIntyre’s established background for the character, and had her going into Pon Farr (didn’t think girl Vulcans did that!). Carolyn Clowes published “The Pandora Principle,” an excellent novel and the only time Pocket Books deigned to deal with Saavik while the original films were still in production.

This story, originally published in Destiny’s Children #1, was written before any of those saw the light of day, and attempts to be faithful to the Vonda McIntyre characterization of Saavik. (I consider Vonda Saavik’s co-creator. After Star Trek VI’s early attempts to make her a traitor, I think it’s clear Vonda understood the character better than some of the producers and writers did.)

In the Name of Friendship

By Steve Wilson

Invisible among the ruins of a burned out building, the half-caste child was huddled beneath the partial shelter of a few beams which still stood. She was naked, but in some part of the building–which might have been a residence, although she didn’t know or care–she had found a large scrap of smooth fabric. It was filthy–everything was, including the child–but it was pleasant and soft to touch; and it kept her warm.

Of course the child knew nothing of temperature, but she knew when she was cold (though she knew no such word for the condition). Not only did the air grow colder at night, but the darkness caused the soul to chill as well. At night the unmoving seemed the most threatening. In the daytime they simply lay where they had fallen and were silent; but at night, sometimes, she feared they might rise to defend themselves against those who would loot their bodies under cover of darkness.

She had seen many who sat with their companions at night, after they had become unmoving. They meant to save the corpses from being consumed by scavengers. The child wondered often if she would have the courage to sit with an unmoving one through an entire night. What if it should rise? Would it recognize a former companion, or would it turn on her as yet another looter?

The thoughts drove her to wonder why one would wish to protect an unmoving one anyway. She had never felt any desire to do so. Of course, she had never had a companion.

With her ragged blanket to cover her and keep out the various kinds of cold that blew in the air, the child had nearly drifted off to sleep. In the twilight between waking and sleeping one often hears or feels something which causes one to stir and wonder if the disturbance had been real or a product of sleep. Anyone living in a safe, civilized world learns to dismiss these sounds or feelings and go to sleep. The child had never learned anything of the kind, as here, the sound or feeling was most often genuine—and threatening.

She raised herself slowly and quietly to survey her surroundings. The sound came again–it was definitely real–a scraping of hard materials against each other. Someone was making his way through the wreckage. The child had no weapons and no way to carry them. She knew nothing of fashioning knives or spears for her own protection. Making herself as flat and small as she could, she held her breath to avoid making even the slightest sound.

Through a worn spot in the fabric over her face she could see a dim figure moving over fallen beams toward her shelter. Soon she could see only two legs in motion. They disappeared from her field of vision, and she knew she could make no move to follow them with her eyes. All around, she could hear sounds of breathing and scraping as the scavenger searched for anything useful among the ruins. The sounds seemed to be coming closer, but she knew that this could be her imagination, fired by her fear.

It was not her imagination. A pair of feet now were visible by her head. She made no move or sound. The scavenger might go away. She would be hard to see in the darkness.

No. A hand came swiftly down and jerked the covering fabric from her. Over her stood the scavenger, a male, naked like herself. He was larger and older–still a child, but close to adulthood and stronger than she. He looked her over, evaluating her worth to him. He would kill her, certainly; but what for? Would he kill her to protect himself, or to use her body as food? Was he that hungry? The ruins held little food anymore if one had no weapons.

He looked oddly at her; his expression was one she had never seen before. The child backed away. If she could keep away from him, she might have an opening to dash past him and escape, She had no desire to become unmoving; the thought terrified her. Somewhere could she find a club of some sort that she could use to protect herself?

She had no time to look, as the scavenger took her arms and raised her off her feet. His expression was still strange. She tried to move her arms, but found his grip too strong. Kicking out with her feet, she struck at his legs, but bare feet did little damage to him. Her attacker, ignoring all of her struggles, forced her backwards against one of the leaning beams. One of his knees came forward, forcing her legs apart. He lowered himself toward her until their bodies touched fully.

The child had never seen such a method of killing, and she understood no reason why he touched her in the ways he did. She had no desire to find out anything more, though. She thought only of her fear. She saw herself as one of the unmoving, sprawled on the ground, parts of her body removed by scavengers.

Savagely struggling, she managed to free one arm. She brought it up to his face which was now touching hers. Intending to scratch his eyes, she struck hard at his forehead, and something completely unexpected happened to her.

She could feel things she had never felt before, with senses she hadn’t known existed. Thoughts were coming into her head that she had never had before. A kind of hunger filled her, but not a kind that could be satisfied with food. She could see her attacker, but somehow she saw more of him now. Suddenly she knew the strange thoughts were his. She could see herself, too, as if she were watching through anthers eyes.

More and more foreign sensations filled her mind; she no longer had room for her own thoughts. They moved in so fast that she could not even recognize them all. The flood became dizzying, and then painful. The pain then grew worse and showed no signs of slowing. She heard a scream that she recognized as her own, but her mouth had not moved. She heard another scream and knew it was her attacker. Soon their screams were the same.

There was a violent snap and the pain stopped. The child’s body slid to the ground. She fought to clear her aching head before her attacker could get hold of her again. She must escape. But when her eyes cleared and her ears no longer sang their wailing song, she saw her attacker among the ruins, running as fast as he could away from her.

***
The child did not sleep for many nights after that, for when she slept she dreamed. In her dreams she relived the entire horrifying experience, awakening when the pain was greatest. She never allowed herself to sleep for more than a few minutes at a time, thus preventing herself from dreaming.

Finally one night, nestled comfortably in a dark corner of one of the buildings which still stood, she was overtaken by her fatigue. The dream came.

This time she was in complete darkness; she could see nothing. The thief was there. She didn’t see him, but he was there nonetheless. He advanced on her, and his thoughts attacked her mind. She could see his thoughts, too. They were daggers, hideously sharp daggers which drove themselves into her flesh.

No, they didn’t touch her. She expected them to, but they went through her instead.

The daggers drove themselves through her mind. She screamed, and the daggers came faster and faster, more and more. She heard herself scream in that voice that wasn’t hers. She felt her own thoughts being blocked out, and she was becoming someone else. No longer did she have any memories of her own nor any idea of her identity.

The daggers stopped.

In the darkness she could see the thief with her mind. Their mind. And he could see her. They faced each other, with no need to even look at each other, as they knew themselves completely.

The thief told her his name, but she didn’t know what it meant. She had never met anyone with a name before.

***
Morning always came in a fog. Even in the afternoon, the sun was rarely visible. The sky was forever dark and caused the air to look gray. The child, as always, rose well before dawn. To sleep late was a luxury which usually proved fatal. A child. especially one without companions, could never afford to be found defenseless by the scavengers.

The ruined city was as ever, quiet and apparently empty. The ragged, hungry denizens never let themselves be seen unless they were in great numbers. The child had never been a member of a great number.

The only screams she had ever heard were those of trapped animals or careless children. The scream she heard now was nothing like those, for it had no quality of pain or fear in it. It was high-pitched and constant and came from all around her. She tried to picture the creature which could make such a sound and succeeded only in terrifying herself. Surely such a creature would be here to prey on her.

And then she saw the light. At the edge of the city, beyond the last of the ruins, was a bright glow, radiating through the thick fog. She had never seen anything like that, either. Could it be fire? It did not resemble the burning of any of the buildings in the city, and the child did remember all of the burnings. Strangely, the scream died as the light came. Had the creature burned to death? The glow lasted only seconds, hardly long enough to burn a monster of such proportions –if it was fire at all.

And everything was quiet again.

Curiosity and fear fought each other in her mind. She wondered what she would find at the edge of the city if she should go there. But the creature could be there, yet alive; and she had no desire to be found by it. Also, the noise and light must have been seen by the other invisible residents of the city. They would probably go there, and she had no desire to be found by them either.

Still her curiosity plagued her. Perhaps in a day or two, when things were quiet again…

***
At the edge of the city, something was blaring with light. Something was emitting an awful, ear-piercing scream. The child felt, herself moving along quickly toward the site of the disturbance. The flames which should have blinded and scream which should have deafened to trouble her, She moved M,

He was there, He had come from the sky.

The feelings, was becoming familiar– though no less painful. His presence

was becoming, familiar, though no less painful. His presence was becoming familiar… his thoughts. However, it was not the same one whose thoughts she was familiar with. He was familiar anyway.

The thief was there.

Terrified, the child tried to wrest her mind from the grip of his, but he

was stronger, He wouldn’t let her go, The daggers stabbed into her mind. Again the pain came, She knew that she was learning to accept it, even welcome it. That fact terrified her more than ever.

The thief had a name.

***
It was evening. Under cover of darkness, the child moved swiftly through the ruined streets. She was still afraid, but something at the back of her mind nagged her. She had to see.

She arrived at the last building, the solitary, ruined boundary of the dead city. From a half-fallen wall she looked ahead of her. In the crumbling masonry was a hole that provided her with a sheltered lookout point. Against the blackish-blue sky was a huge shadow, like a small building. Between the massive shadow and her lookout, a small glow peeked out in the darkness.

She heard voices, an unaccustomed sound. These were not gruff voices raised in anger, nor screams of agony. These were quiet and controlled. They seemed to form patterns, but the child did not recognize anything from among them. Language was practically a foreign concept to her.

The shadow was not a building, but it wasn’t a creature, either. It was a thing. What kind of thing she had no idea, but she knew it wasn’t alive. She moved slowly from her shelter and, keeping low to the ground, began to move toward the voices and the glow.

Drawing closer, she could make out people sitting in front of the shadowed thing by the glow. They weren’t the people she was used to, for they were well-clothed and sitting out in the open unafraid. Yet there weren’t many of them (six, but the girl couldn’t count). The glow came from some small, metal object amidst a circle of men and women.

Outside the circle of people were two structures, shelters made out of some kind of fabric draped over poles. From her angle she could see no openings to the shelters, so she could go closer unobserved if she stayed behind them. Coming up behind one, she surveyed the surrounding ground. Might they have tossed out a scrap of food? Or some piece of fabric with which she could warm herself?

Nothing. Not that she would expect anyone to ever throw aside a useful item. The city knew no waste and hadn’t since her infancy before the others had left. The other adults…could this be some of them returning? Fear gripped her; She considered dashing back to the shelter of the city. No, if she stayed here, she might be able to steal something from them as they slept … maybe even a weapon.

The child settled into a sitting position and watched the men and women about the glowing thing. They moved little and talked much. Two of them did a considerable amount of talking. One was a woman with hair beginning to turn gray (gray!) at her temples and in streaks down her back. The other was a tall man. She knew he was tall as he did not sit with the others, but stood instead erect and gazing into the glow thoughtfully.

His face, like all of theirs, held an obvious intelligence; but something about him seemed gentle. He seemed less tense than the others, some of whom were beginning to raise their voices as they spoke. The issue of which they spoke was one of importance, she could tell. They spoke quite gravely and often with controlled anger. Yet they did not fight, they merely talked. The child wished she knew what they were arguing about, but she knew nothing of their language. This was the first time since her earliest memories that she had heard spoken language at all.

Her attention drawn completely to the events in front of her, the child jumped when she felt the touch. It wasn’t a touch on any part of her body; no one had come up behind her. She turned instinctively to look behind her anyway, but knew she would find nothing.

The touch was in a place at once strange and familiar. She had felt it before… once … many times … in her dreams. The touch was in her mind. Someone was there. Was it the thief? It couldn’t be, for he came only in her dreams. But someone was there, touching gently.

Despite the gentleness, the touch frightened her; but she couldn’t bring herself to leave. The presence stirred her curiosity. Suddenly she realized that she knew what they were talking about. Although she still couldn’t understand the words, she knew the subject. They were speaking of the ha]-f-castes, the children. One of them was saying… the thoughts made no sense to her!

What were the half-castes? She somehow knew that she was one, yes! They were the ones left behind! When the others had left, only half-castes remained. The man, the gentle one, was speaking of rescue… ? He would take them away from here … away? Where was away? The woman wanted … her thoughts made no sense. The child could only see the woman’s hostility.

How could she know all this? The thoughts… someone else’s thoughts! The daggers! Fear took hold of the child. Then the pain began.

And abruptly, it stopped.

The man, the one who was standing, angled his head thoughtfully, ignoring the ongoing exclamations of those around him. He looked in the child’s direction. Why? Could she have made some sound? No, more likely he had felt her thoughts as she had felt his. Why then, she wondered, wasn’t he in pain as she had been moments ago?

Saying nothing, the tall man sprang suddenly from his position, amazing the child with his quick transition from stillness to motion. He was nearly upon her before she thought to move. He had caught her arm before she moved two strides away from the camp.

He uttered some sound, a word. Despite its meaninglessness to her, she could tell he was trying to calm her and persuade her to remain. His grip on her left arm loosened, and he spun her around to take her by the shoulders gently. None of his words made any sense to her, beyond their benevolent tone.

He brushed grimy black hair softly from her eyes and put a hand to the side of her face. What… ? The thoughts! She could feel their minds coming together as they had only moments before, but now the exchange was more complete. She knew the pain would be greater. She forced his thoughts back to him, straining her mind with the fantastic effort it took.

The man removed the hand, apparently impressed by her display, and began to speak quietly again. Touching her shoulder, he gestured to the camp with one finger, beckoning her to follow him. She almost did. She would have followed him without fear into the camp, but the woman, the one with the gray hair, began to look in her direction and rise. The child remembered another woman, a younger one, who had also had a hostile attitude toward her. She remembered the time she had followed the other woman to a building. And she remembered pain.

Forgetting the man beside her, the one who had somehow calmed her fear despite his attempted attack on her mind, she became gripped in terror again. These people would use her as the others had, to satisfy their own sadistic purposes. They would cause her pain, and they would enjoy it.

She ran, and when the tall man called gently to her, she ran even faster.

***
She and her companion had spent hours on their search. They were searching for…what were they searching for ? It had been so important to her. She turned to ask him what it was.

His face was the thief’s face.

It had been the thief’s face the whole time, and she had acknowledged that it was. So why hadn’t she been afraid? No matter, she was afraid now that she had remembered. How had they come to be companions? How could she have allowed it despite her fear?

Nothing made sense.

Seeing her fear, her companion touched her face. She relaxes herself as their thoughts moved together. It was the greatest joy she had ever known to receive his thoughts.

It terrified her.

But her companion would not allow her to be afraid. He caressed her mind with his thoughts, and she was no longer afraid of him. She trusted him completely. After all, he had told her his name.

***
In the ten years since the city had been abandoned, the animals (two-legged as well as four) had learned one valuable lesson. They remained always in the shadows or in the buildings. For anyone who tried to hunt for food, this lesson made things difficult.

The child was suffering from that particular difficulty this morning. No food of any kind was in sight. Wild vegetables did not seem to thrive here, making animals the only source of food. Some found their nourishment in the undefended bodies of the unmoving ones, but such things were best attended to at night to avoid possible entrapment. Besides, the child could never bring herself to come near one of the eerily motionless bodies. Fortunately, until this past week, other food had always been readily available to her.

She had looked everywhere … almost everywhere, for there was still the encampment on the edge of town. The men and women there had brought with them food and weapons, the two essential survival elements here. Despite their possession of the essentials, they still hunted the city each day, finding nothing. What were they looking for? Was she their quest? Or did they just want any of the residents here to use for their unknown purposes? She could imagine the gray woman subjecting her to any number of painful tortures … and laughing, as the others who had left them behind had laughed when they caused another pain.

The child’s stomach growled, and she thought more of the food they would have at the encampment. Perhaps they would share it with her? Strange that she would think of that; she had never seen a being share anything with another. What had out the idea in her head?

Perhaps it was the dream.

Of course the tall man seemed charitable. He had spoken kindly to her, or it seemed that way. Then again, he had attacked her. He had caused her pain. What had made her think he would ever help her?

Yes, it must be the dream.

It was absurd to believe a dream! Dreams were not real. Were they? Had he really put his thoughts into her mind as she slept? IF so, her thoughts might not be her own. He might have forced her to trust him when she knew she shouldn’t. Letting herself be caught by the people at the encampment would be extremely dangerous.

But it couldn’t hurt to look.

***
They were preparing to leave when she arrived, gathering the strange objects they always carried when they hunted in the city. The child waited by the edge of one of the tents. After they left, if they all left, she would have a chance! The food would be there, unguarded. She was sure she could find enough to last her a week.

The tall man was not among them.

He was behind her.

She marveled at how quietly and lithely he moved to come up behind her undetected. He was, of course, too close to allow her to run away; but this time he did not touch her. He only watched, holding his hands out in front of him in a calming gesture. The corners of his mouth turned up slightly.

The child had never seen a smile. Laughter, yes, she had witnessed often, but never a smile. Gentle expressions were foreign to her; she knew only those associated with cruelty. This man’s expression was not cruel, however. It was as gentle as … as the dream.

Seeing no further sign of fear in her, he stood. The child tensed; but, instead of advancing on her, he backed away several steps. Then he crouched again and watched her. Slowly, one hand extended towards her, as if to invite her to come to him.

She should run; she knew she should run. But he was allowing her the opportunity to run, why? A trap? Or was he testing her trust in him? She didn’t trust him. Then why hadn’t she run? His hand still extended to her.

Run!

She stared at his hand, then at her own. His was white, clean and soft. Hers was filthy, calloused and bronze from the sun. One reached out to touch the other.

Run!

Hesitantly, she allowed the briefest contact, then pulled back. He did not grab at her hand, neither did he move his own. Again she reached out. This time when she touched him she did not pull away. Instead she ran her palm over the back of his smooth hand. Still he remained unmoving. Her palm touched his, and he gently clasped her hand. The child found that she was smiling. It was the first time she had.

The tall man’s free hand came up from his side and he held it in front of her, gesturing softly at her face.

The attack!

A small hand moved up of its own volition, ignoring the frantic warnings from the child’s brain. It brought itself up to touch the man’s temple. His now assumed a similar position on her face.

And the thoughts began.

But they were not daggers, they caused no pain. This time something was different. She could see through his eyes and read his every thought, and it caused her no pain. Bits of knowledge from his mind filled hers. Some of his language became familiar. She understood some of the strange words. And she knew his name.

The feeling caused by joining her mind with his was one with which she was completely unfamiliar. Though her stomach still growled, she felt fulfilled. And she was no longer afraid.

When the meld was painlessly broken, the man took her hand and began to lead her to the encampment. Fearfully she looked up at him. He smiled. She understood the meaning of that gesture now.

He gave her food and clothing. He spoke words to her, some of which she understood, some of which she didn’t; but his meanings were all,:clear enough.

And he gave her a name “Saavikam.” Although she didn’t know it, it meant something close to “little sister” in one of his ancient languages. The child, of course, had no idea what sister meant. The closest she could have come in understanding it was to think in terms of a companion, but she already had a word for companion.

She called him Spock.

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