The Lady Amanda was relieved that the day had come to an end. She had not thought that travelling with her small, solemn-eyed son would be easy. She had expected problems resulting from free-fall, space-sickness, and inevitable boredom. What she got was a succession of daring adventures and a plethora of unanswerable questions. Spock had taken to space-travel as if it were the only life he had known. He was enthralled by the engineering of the space-cruiser; to-day the turbo-lift had kept him occupied. Amanda smiled as she thought back to the incident. Until now she had not found it amusing. She had been consumed with worry, feverishly considering all the disasters that could befall an inquisitive five-year-old on ship-board. What had actually happened was that Spock had entered the turbo-lift with a party of Terran tourists. He had worked his way to the back of the elevator, planning to ride up and down with the visitors. What he had not reckoned on was being left alone in the lift. A mischievous twelve-year-old human passenger had pushed the down-button when leaving, and the tiny Vulcan child was trapped, the controls eighteen inches above his head.
It had taken five hours to locate him and Amanda had needed every ounce of the training she had received from her husband's people to keep herself from screaming.
One consolation of the incident was that Amanda had gained a friend. The passengers were humans mostly, returning home from vacations and jobs on far planets. There were passengers of other races, including a party of Vulcan scientists destined for S.A.G.T. (Sustained Anti-Gravity Investigations) on Earth/Moon base. Amanda had felt 'odd', as a human mother of a 'Vulcan' child. The humans looked askance at her; they didn't understand who she was. The Vulcans spoke, knowing her history, but they were all male and preoccupied with their studies.
This day, when Spock went missing, Amanda had been sitting in the lounge reading - trying to revise her knowledge of basic nuclear physics, so that her son's education would not suffer from the trip. It was one of the conditions Sarek had made when agreeing to her proposed visit home. She had a half-cold cup of coffee before her. Spock had wandered off somewhere around, but he had been told not to leave the lounge and was usually an obedient, if argumentative, child.
The Eurasian woman had an interesting face, not beautiful, but arresting; she was about six years older than the Lady Amanda herself. She came and stood beside Amanda, looking down at her; after a moment Amanda looked up, startled.
"Excuse me," said the woman. "I would like to check out something. Do you mind?" Amanda wasn't sure; she was a little wary of the human passengers. She had caught snatches of conversation concerning herself and her child, not much of it complimentary. She knew that there had been some speculation about her racial origins, especially as she often affected the high-collared Vulcan cloak, which effectively hid her ears.
"Well?" she questioned, cautiously.
"Aren't you Amanda Grayson?"
The question was a shock; she had indeed been Amanda Grayson, before she married Sarek of Vulcan, that was.
"Yes, but...?" Amanda's tone was puzzled, she did not know this woman.
The girl smiled, sunlight on water. "You don't know me, but I've seen your school photo, that's how I recognised you. I'm Maggie Donovan's sister!"
Amanda smiled, and the girl relaxed; she had obviously been unsure of her welcome. Maggie had been at school with Amanda; they had not been 'best' friends, but had made up part of the same clique.
"Why," Amanda exclaimed, "now I see the likeness."
"Well, we're only half-sisters really, my name's Kali Kalomi, awful, isn't it?" She paused and sat down opposite Amanda. "You're with the little Vulcan boy, aren't you?"
"My son, yes," Amanda nodded calmly; not a single tremor gave evidence of her wildly beating heart. This was the first time she had had to face human reaction to her interspecies marriage. She was ashamed how much she dreaded it.
"Your son? But..." The girl hesitated, her skin took on rosy hue. "Excuse me, I didn't mean to be rude, but, have you adopted him?"
"No." Amanda spoke carefully, with Vulcan precision. "My husband is Sarek of Vulcan; Spock is our son."
"Oh!" Kali looked genuinely pleased. "Isn't that wonderful? I hope you're very happy; do you like living on Vulcan?" The words tumbled over each other in eager interest.
"Thank you." Amanda began to relax. "I have grown used to Vulcan, though it has not always been... "
She was interrupted by an urgent tugging at her sleeve. She looked down at her dark, diminutive son. Many people had commented on the pointy-eared child; Vulcan children rarely travelled with their parents, indeed were seldom born off their home planet. His eyes were large with wonder as he regarded his mother's companion.
"Spock." Amanda smiled lovingly as she addressed him. "This is Miss Kalomi, she is related to an old friend of mine."
The child raised his hand in the Vulcan salute, then looked at his mother in question, unsure if this was the correct way to greet a guest. Kali smiled at him, and held out her hand; Spock glanced at Amanda who nodded reassuringly. He rested his hand briefly on the one offered him, but he did not smile. Flashed into Kali's mind was a fleeting view of herself, olive-skinned, vital and very large. She opened her eyes wide in surprise and heard Amanda chuckle, then caution, "No, Spock!" The vision dissipated as the small hand was withdrawn.
The child settled beside them for a while listening to their conversation, but it was of places and people he did not know, and he began to get restless. Amanda turned to him as soon as she noticed.
"Sit still," she ordered quietly; he obeyed her but was not content with mere obedience.
"Can I go and use the...?" He made a gesture with his hands, bringing them together, then moving them up and down; the gesture was instantly recognisable.
"The turbo-lift?" Kali asked.
"The tur-bo-lift," he repeated solemnly after her, enunciating carefully. His English was completely without accent, despite his extreme youth.
"Yes... but," replied Amanda, as he made to go, "do not make a nuisance of yourself, and do not get out at any other floor than this. Do you understand?"
"Of course, mother, what is there not to understand?" The question was asked with an air of ponderous puzzlement, in almost exact imitation of his father, although Kali did not, of course, recognise the model.
"You are a cheeky boy," scolded his mother, "and if you aren't very careful, we'll repeat the Calculus lesson you messed up yesterday!" The threat worked, he quit the room without another word.
Left alone the two women continued their chatter, reminiscing about their childhood. It was over an hour before they realised the small boy had not returned. Amanda became agitated and Kali suggested they check her friend's stateroom. It was empty. A search of his favourite haunts did not reveal Spock; the only information they gained was that one of the turbo-lifts was broken, stuck mysteriously between floors. After a fruitless search lasting two hours, the women decided to report the matter to the purser. Within another hour the ship was on internal alert status. The little boy had not been found.
Dr. Samur was attempting to rest in his cabin. He was a poor space-traveller and had kept on his feet so far by sustained use of Vulcan mental disciplines. He had arrived at the stage where he could feel his barriers slipping; the mental strain had reached its limit. He made the decision to lower all barriers for a short time, allowing the unpleasant feeling to flood into him.
Making sure the door was locked and that he would remain completely undisturbed, he lay down on his bed, closed his eyes and one by one lowered his defences. His stomach heaved; he was uncomfortably aware of an acute dizziness. He gave it free rein, hoping that, when re-established, his control would prove stronger. He had lain still like this for some while, his mind completely defenceless; he had warned the other Vulcans of his intention so that they would avoid inadvertent mind-link with him. There were no other telepathic races aboard.
The cry for help came slicing through his unprotected brain like a sharpened arrow. It was a piercing echoing scream, compounded of fear and frustration. Samur sat up straight on the bed, unable to account for the experience, but aware that someone was trying to establish contact, and that person was very frightened. Samur opened his mind for broadcast, and sent a wave of calming reassurance at the terrified contact. After a few minutes of this the chaotic thoughts began to clear. Samur was not able to read exactly who was sending, but a coherent picture was forming.
He seemed close to the floor in a large, enclosed space; way above his head, a control panel which he was striving, unsuccessfully, to reach. Samur sent an impulse, trying to got his contact to turn around, to give him some idea of where he was, and why he was so scared. It took time and effort, but eventually Samur received a view all around the room. As soon as he saw the closed double doors looming over him, he realised where his contact was. Someone was trapped in a huge turbo-lift. That was illogical, a turbo-lift was a turbo-lift, neither large nor small. He thought for a moment; unless of course, the observer were very small. It came to him in a flash - a very small person was trapped in a turbo-lift, a child was trapped!
Still broadcasting soothing thoughts, he unlocked his door and made his way unsteadily to the purser's office. He had no energy to spare for controlling the space-sickness, every bit of mental control he possessed was bent to preventing the child panicking. Samur felt very, very ill.
It was a strange party that stood staring down the open liftshaft. The ship's Captain and Doctor, two human females, one very close to tears, and a pale shaking Vulcan. The maintenance engineer had gone down in a safety harness, and lifted the trap-door into the car. He could see Spock, but was too large himself to go through the trap to rescue the child. The only way was to lower a harness in, and trust that he would be able to fasten the buckles safely himself, no mean feat for a five-year-old. But monitored through the mind-link by Samur each buckle was carefully fastened and tested, in order and without faltering. The watching engineer was fascinated by the serious concentration the child brought to the task.
Finally Spock was hauled out and stood, surrounded by adults; he showed no sign of fear, except to hold firmly onto his mother's skirt for a moment. He looked at Samur, then held out a hand to him, fingers outspread. The older Vulcan touched the fingers of his larger hand to those of the child; they stood thus for a moment then released.
"You would show more logic, Spock," the physicist reminded gently, "if before entering an area, you checked that you were able to gain egress."
"Yes, sir," the child answered respectfully. "I am sorry you are unwell, can I help you?"
"Thank you, but already I am recovering." This was obviously true; now his strength was not needed elsewhere, Samur was regaining control of his body. "I will complete my rest, if you will allow it; you have a surprisingly tenacious mind. I am sure you will live long and prosper."
"Live long and prosper, Samur," was the solemn reply.
Amanda politely thanked her son's rescuers, then turned her attention to the prodigal. "You!... Supper!... then bed! And no arguments! Tomorrow you can explain how you managed to break the lift half-way between floors!"
He opened his mouth to protest his innocence, but one look at her face warned against it. He shut his mouth again, and took her hand to be led to supper. He was very hungry and very sleepy. Tomorrow... tomorrow he would find out how the intercom system worked!