Linda B. Munn - Author



    In the year 2070, at the age of 32, I have finally reached one of the goals I've aimed for.  I, Tiarra Jewel, have received my hard earned title of Jack-of-all-Trades, or more commonly known as the  roustabout .  There are only five of us who made it all the way in our training, out of a class of twenty.
    Our training was began at the age of five.  We were taken from the love and warmth of our families to learn the many and various arts of running and maintaining a star-ship.  The art of choosing the young roustabouts was made entirely at the whim of the Confederation heads.  They chose one male and one female from each of the ten original planets of the Confederation.
    As well as knowing a star-ship inside out, we were taught the customs and languages of all ten planets.  We spent an average of 2.7 years on one planet.  Because of my mixed education and the planet of my birth, I know a lot more about Vulca than the other nine planets.  I am also known as a breed, the product of a mixed marriage.
    My father, Brad Jewel, took for his second wife my mother, Mauve.  He was an Earthman with one son by his first wife.  His first wife was killed when an atomic dust cloud settled on the planet of Gunrun.  Father was on his star-ship when the catastrophe occurred while my half brother, Crowne, was on Earth attending school.
    Within a two year span my mother and father met, courted, and married.  Since Mauve was a Vulcan it was a novel marriage, one of the first between an Earthling and a Vulcan.  On Vulca they believed in not weakening the rigid structure of the planet by intermarriage with out-worlders, such as Earthmen or Martians.  Because of my parents union my mother was banned from any participation in any serious Vulcan ceremonies.  She was not allowed to sponsor a Vulcan child when they came of age; nor to attend a full Vulcan wedding; nor to publicly attend Vulcan religious ceremonies of any kind.
    Her marriage to Brad Jewel, Earthman, completely changed her way of life.  Mauve found many of the doors into her life slammed shut in her face.  Her friends shunned her and her family tolerated her.  Because of the ridicule; pain; scorn; and hate that daily entered their life, Brad moved his new wife to the outer reaches of the city of Vaarck.
    Here she found peace of mind; lack of fear for her own life; and complete, utter, lonesomeness.  Her own husband of three months was sent out on another mission, one that would take almost two years.  The only thing that kept the dark haired, green eyed, Mauve alive was that Brad would return to her and her now expected child.
    I was born to her during the seventh Vulcan moon, of the fifteen moon year, a very auspicious time to be born.  Vulcan's born during this period were said to have strange and varied talents.  When my father returned for his six month leave of duty, he persuaded my mother to get someone to help her.  Our nearest neighbor was a woman many thought was a witch.
    She, too, like my mother, was shut off from the Vulcan community.  Being 45 years of age she had learned many ways with medicinal herbs; animals of the tundra; surviving alone; and forming her own religious beliefs.  Her only sin was to prophesy about the death of the then
ruling Visor of Vulca.  The prophecy came true and she was ran out of town, with only the clothes on her back.  Finding a cave in the uninhabited outskirts of Vulca, she set up house.  For fifteen years she lived on wit and fortitude.  Branded for life as the Witch of Vulca.
    My father came across her, by chance one day, when he was out hunting.  He saw her laying in the woods when he went to retrieve one of the large weiries he had shot.  The weiry, being a large bird who couldn't fly because of its size, had limped into the woods, shortly after the stunning blow from the ray gun that hit its left wing.  On Vulca hunters kept their game alive as long as possible to keep it fresh for consumption.  So at all costs, it was imperative for my father to track the weiry and patch up what wound there was then take it home.  There is a stiff penalty for wounding game then leaving it to die.
    Not far from the still form of the Witch of Vulca father found the wounded weiry.  Placing the weiry in a net hunting bag he examined the shoulder wound and saw it wasn't extensive.  The weiry being too tired to fight, allowed a green salve made of perth leaves to be applied to the burn.  Having the weiry safely tucked away, father made his way over to the prone body on the ground.
    The Witch of Vulca was barely breathing, but seemed to have no wounds of any kind to explain her malady.  Father gave her a drink of wine from the wine skin across his shoulder.  The first gurgle from the wine skin collected at her lips, then ran down her lower cheek and chin.  Some of the cool, refreshing liquid must have made it down her throat for she revived a little.  With a quicker than lightening move, since it was unexpected, she avidly and greedily grabbed the wine skin closer, gulping the free flowing stream of grape.  A small struggle ensued as father tried to wrest the wine skin from her grasp.
     "Easy, Old Mother."    Father admonished her.
     "Old Mother?"   She sputtered out.   "I am not much older than you, you alien." 
    My father could tell she was very weak when she struggled to sit up.  What could he expect from a solitary, gray haired, scarecrow of a woman?  Father soon found out.
     "Do you know who you are struggling with?  The Witch of Vulca, that's who   If you don't let me up, I'll put a curse on you."
     "Go ahead.  Do what you must.  I care not for curses or witches.  I am a busy, busy man   If you wish to lie here unprotected and probably starving to death, go right ahead."
     "You are brave, Sir.  You fear not the Witch of Vulca."   Eyeing my father from head to toe.
    Turning on his heels, father paused to pick up the bagged weiry, then proceeded toward his mount.
     "Wait   Do you have any food on you?"
     "Are you hungry?"   Father called back.
     "Yes.  I am starving."
    Removing his food pouch from the hart's saddle, he then put the weiry on the game hook.  His supply of food was small, but he was willing to share it.  Going back to the Witch of Vulca, they supped together on a hunk of smoked ginda; a small loaf of semale bread; and drinks of wine.  While they ate, they talked, and soon made a new and budding friendship.
    The Witch of Vulca told of her persecution and eviction from town.  Father sympathized with her on that point, from the experience that he and Mauve had.  He learned she was only 45 years old, but he thought she looked ancient.  Her coal black hair had turned to a salt and pepper mixture...more salt than pepper.  What were probably once shining, living, green eyes, were now a smoldering smoke green; but a glint of shrewdness replaced the shining.  The highways of time on her face and hands showed the wear and tear of having to survive in a savage world alone.
    Father told her of his young wife and younger daughter.  How he feared for them in his absences from home.  He told of their humiliation and flight from Vaarck; of Mauve's loneliness for adult companionship; and of his desires and aims for his children.
    The Witch of Vulca heard him out forming her judgment of the man before her.  She found him brave, handsome in his own way, and basically honest in his dealings with her.
     "Tell me, Witch of Vulca, do you have a name?"
     "Yes.  At one time I was known as Neldra."
     "I am Brad Jewel.  May we be friends in the true sense?"
    Thinking carefully on this, since friendship on Vulca was as binding a tie as marriage was and could only be broken by a formal ritual.  Father was aware of her careful consideration due to her Vulcan background.  Even though she was an outcast, she is, above all, a Vulcan by heritage.
    Basing all she knew of this stranger and what he did for her, with no questions asked, she decided his friendship would be of use.
     "I would be honored to be a true friend of yours."   Answered by the Vulcan formal reply.

    "Before we seal our friendship I must ask of you several things.  Will you be my wife's and daughter's companion and will you abide in our house? "
    " Yes.  No matter what, I AM a true Vulcan."
    This exchange didn't take long, nor did the sealing of their friendship.  Father withdrew the ceremonial, decorative dagger from the sheath in his boot and made a thin line across the inner bend of their right elbows.  Pressing their small cuts against each others wound they held them there, as they chanted the following words in unison, as is Vulcan custom.
     "I pledge you love; compassion; charity; humanity; understanding; trust; and obedience in the name of friendship."
    The final seal on the pact of friendship was a kiss to the other's wound, before bandaging it up.
    Soon afterwards they were riding double on father's hart, back to the House of Jewel.  When they arrived my father first put the weiry in a cage and made it comfortable with water and food.  Going into the house itself, he introduced his friend Neldra to my mother.
    Mother was delirious with joy over having another woman with which to talk.  Sitting down over cups of thai, which is somewhere between coffee and tea in taste, depending on whether you like strong tea or weak coffee, they soon became better acquainted.  Honesty being a good basis for friendship, made Neldra inform my mother that she was the Witch of Vulca.  Mother had heard tales of terror from her parents about the mighty powers of the Witch of Vulca, but because she trusted greatly in father's common sense, she thrust her fear aside.
    Over the years of friendship with Neldra my mother soon found nothing at all sinister in her, so their friendship was all encompassing.  When my mother died at the young age of 40, Neldra followed closely on her heels, out of a great loss, at the age of 58.
    But back to my story.
    I was almost two when Neldra entered my life and our family.  Now that I am older, the ripe age of 32, I see how wise my father was.  Neldra was a great influence in my life.  She taught me to communicate with the animals; how to imitate any sound I wanted; how to make medicines; and how to develop the gift of prophecy.  Although she didn't get a good toehold with me on this last gift, I did develop it further in my studies to be a roustabout.  The majority of my gift coming from the planet Prue where they communicate only by thought waves.  That was the whole key to Neldra's prophesying...she was a mind reader.  By mentally making a sound like a bell, my parents and Neldra knew I was tuned in to them.  I had developed this skill to the point
that at the age of five, I could let anyone I was fond of know that I was approaching them.
    Only once did this little trick cause any alarm.  When I was 14, on the planet Guwaine, I became quite attached to my electronics teacher, Lief Ollson, another Earthling who had spent several years on Guwaine.  The attachment became so intense that whenever I was near him the bell sound would peal in my mind.  Not unlike the way a cat purrs.  In a short time Teacher Ollson, also, would hear it whenever I appeared.  One day, after our lesson, he said he was going away for a while to rest.  I remained behind to give him a personal good-bye, but even though he eemed distressed, he consented to my staying.
    We got to talking and he told me he kept hearing bells at the same time every day.
     "Like this, Teacher Ollson?"
    TINKLE-Tinkle, I went mentally.
     "Yes, that's it   But how did you know? "
     "Because it is I, dear Teacher."
     "You?  How can it be you, little Jewel?"   Disbelief showing in his voice.
    I explained it to him asking him to contact my mother on Vulca, or Neldra.  Instead, he suggested we try an experiment.  He wanted me to come to his house, any time I wanted to that night and if he heard the bells, then saw me, he would take my tale to heart.  I did just that.  I went to his house just short of curfew time, which is about 11:00 o'clock Earth time.  I wanted to catch him unawares, which I did.  He heard the ringing, then my knock on the door.  It was enough to convince him and to relieve the thought of impending madness.  As a result, he didn't go away from school and I was able to become well versed in electronics.
    Teacher Ollson took me under his wing, so to speak, and trained me after school because he was fascinated in how I made the tinkle in his head.  He learned from me and I from him.  There isn't an electronic system made to date that I don't know inside-out and he can tinkle in my head on special occasions, such as in extreme danger or under stress.  It took me a long time to realize the ringing was only possible for him under those conditions, but once confirmed I made it a point to get to him.Click to add text, images, and other content

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