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PART 4 (Conclusion) Spock emerged from the green hill and walked a little way into the forest, stopping in a small clearing. He felt dazed. He reached down for his communicator and flipped it open. “Spock to Enterprise.” “Spock!” The Captain’s voice was agitated. “Where have you been? I was getting a landing party ready to come for you!” Spock looked at his chronometer. Eight hours since he had arrived. He had indeed lost track of time passing-- though not, of course, a hundred years. The elf woman, Timmain, had led him into a room, offered him cool water, dried meats (which he had refused) and sweet tubers (which he had not-- logic dictated he ignore the legends about what would happen if one accepted food or drink in the green hill). Elf-men and women had gathered around, most of them dark-skinned and wearing light, flowing garments, in sharp contrast to the fair, leather-clad elves who had brought him here. Spock had wondered if the dominant race among the elves was the dark one-- but the queen, if such she was, was fair. Perhaps these beings, like the Federation, had learned to shun such distinctions. The curious elves had disbursed after a few moments, all but a dark lady as tall as Timmain, dressed in green robes and a tall headpiece, who had been introduced as “Savah.” She smiled and took his hand for a moment, welcoming him, then withdrew. Spock and Timmain were alone once more. “Tell me, Spock,” the queenly lady said gravely, “why you have come.” He explained. The Federation waited until cultures such as hers reached a level of sophistication where they could be contacted without violation of the Prime Directive, which forbade interference with developing cultures. A culture that had attained-- or in this case, regained-- hyperspace flight was considered to be in a state where being invited to join the United Federation of Planets was no longer deemed “interference.” Timmain at this point gave him a soft smile and shook her head. “It is good of you to come, Spock of the stars,” she said. “I would not turn down your invitation without asking my children their will-- but first you must fully understand who you are inviting.” She rose, and her hair parted momentarily from around her. Spock lifted his Vulcan disciplines around him like a shield. She held out her hand once more. “Come. I will show you the Scroll of Colors.” They walked down a passageway, past an open room where Spock glimpsed Savah kneeling beside a large, humanoid-shaped white bundle, apparently communing with it-- and into the Room of the Scrolls. Timmain lifted her hand, and the two whorled stone pillars had begun to turn. Pictures had flowed between them, before his fascinated eyes. She had touched his mind, then, with her own, explaining what he saw. She wanted, in addition to showing him her history, to search his thoughts for any memory, any trace of beings like herself his people had encountered before. But he had had to disappoint her. Gentle was her search, careful her touch, but he could not have been anything other than overwhelmed, all the same. . . Spock came back to the moment with a jerk and cleared his throat. “My apologies for my tardiness, Captain,” he told the communicator. “I was. . . unavoidably detained. One to beam up.” Later, in the briefing room, Kirk stared at the strange sight of his first officer struggling to explain. “They have no technology, Captain-- they do not even have a written language. Their ship is powered entirely by mental energy-- power that we have not seen since the Organians put a stop to the Klingon War. It was built long, long ago. Twenty or thirty thousand years is my best guess. And that was after they had already left technology behind.” “Your best-- guess, Spock?” Kirk raised his eyebrows, and McCoy and the other department heads looked at one another. “Can’t you give us an estimate, a calculation?” Spock shook his head, looking, under the Vulcan stone mask, slightly embarrassed. “I fear not, sir. All that I learned was by mind-to-mind contact, and these beings have little grasp of the passing of time.” He shook his head again, clearly now in wonder, and Kirk found himself astonished. But Spock’s next words were almost as astonishing as his demeanor. “Captain. The elf woman who showed me all this was alive when the ship was built. And she was, to all appearances, in the very flower of her youth.” Kirk caught McCoy’s incredulous stare. Even apart from what he was telling them, Spock waxing poetic over a woman was certainly unusual enough to warrant incredulity. “All right, Spock,” Kirk said. “You say that these people-- all except for this Timmain-- are still in a primitive state. No technology. But they can run their ship?” “Some of them can, Captain-- those Timmain is training-- because their ship is as far beyond what we call technology as our phasers are beyond their bows and spears. They command it with their minds.” Kirk rubbed his forehead. “All right, Spock,” he said again. “I understand why you’re not recommending admittance to the Federation-- and why this Timmain didn’t seem to be interested. But what I’m not getting is why you want their very existence designated Level One Classified.” Spock looked at him, then around the room, very solemnly. “They do not use hyperspace, gentlemen and ladies. When they wish their ship to be elsewhere, it simply-- is. Furthermore, the material of which the vessel is made has many properties in common with dilithium, and yet is completely stable. The Klingons, were they to hear of this, would strive unceasingly to capture the ship and enslave its inhabitants.” Kirk nodded slowly. “Very well, Mr. Spock. I’ll pass along your recommendations to Starfleet.” Spock inclined his head. “Thank you, Captain.” A tiny curve lifted the corners of his mouth. “Although, based on what I saw, I believe the Klingons might ultimately be the ones in real danger.” “So what it comes down to,” Kirk said, “is that if the, uh, elves aren’t ready for us, we may really not be ready for them.” He grinned a little and stood. “Dismissed.” As the officers filed out, Kirk called Spock back to him. McCoy stood watching as Kirk gazed consideringly at his first officer. “So, Spock, it sounds as if this Timmain, despite her advanced age, was very beautiful.” Spock rocked back a little on his heels, his eyes fixed on a point over Kirk’s head. “I suppose, Captain, viewed aesthetically, one might say so.” “But you didn’t find her so?” When Spock did not immediately answer, Kirk opened his eyes wide in surprise. “Spock! You didn’t-- did you--?” “Captain.” The dark eyes regarded him dispassionately. “I was on duty.” “Is that so?” McCoy asked dryly. “I remember on one occasion, with a certain Romulan commander, you felt it part of your duty to--” Spock raised an arch eyebrow. “Really, Doctor, the occasions were hardly parallel. Further, I am unable to see in what way the matter concerns you.” He turned on his heel and left. Kirk glanced at McCoy. “Mind your own business, Bones,” he muttered, his face mock-serious. But McCoy only stared at him. “Do you suppose he really--” They looked at each other. “Nah.” As the Federation vessel left orbit, far below on the planet two elves sat in the top branches of their hollow tree. “Imagine,” the silver-haired one said to his leader. “All those-- people-- out there. I hope someday we’ll see some of them again.” “Timmain said a lot of them are human,” his chief reminded him. “I know,” Skywise said. “But. . . I’d sure like to find out what makes their ships go.” Cutter laughed and gave him a gentle shove. “Maybe someday, Fahr. Maybe someday.” THE END