Disclaimer: I don't own Star Trek or any of its characters.

Note: Written for the Cotton Candy Bingo challenge, "telepathy/mental connection" prompt.


The Untamed Heart

The desert glowed like burnished metal, sunlight reflecting off chips of mica and quartz mixed into the sand. A searing wind blew into Surak's face, carrying with it the coppery tang of blood and the sound of distant shouting.

Step by step, Surak crossed the expanse of desert, his sandals crunching in the sand. A blob of color came into view at the edge of his vision, gradually resolving itself into the shape of an oasis. Two groups of Vulcans clashed around it, bright steel weapons flashing in the sun.

A man at the edge of the battle saw Surak approaching and wheeled around to face him. He carried a blaster in one hand and a shortspear (meant for use when the desert's electrical storms rendered more sophisticated weapons useless) in the other. "Who are you? Which faction are you with?" he demanded.

"I am Surak, and I am with no faction," he replied.

"What do you mean?" The man's brow furrowed in confusion, and he didn't notice a woman wearing the emblems of the opposing force aiming a blaster at him.

"Get down!" Surak yelled (not in anger or fear, but simply from a logical calculation that a raised voice would be more likely to evoke the desired reaction), and the man dropped to the ground, the beam from the blaster passing over his head.

The man grinned. "So you're on our side, then! You could have just said that from the beginning. I'm Solkar."

Surak shook his head. "I spoke the truth when I said that I am not aligned with any faction. I am neither on your side nor against you. I seek only to bring peace and logic to all sides in our race's great conflict, that we may not destroy ourselves."

"Peace?" Solkar spat. "There can be no peace as long as those bastards keep stealing our territory and killing our people! How can you make peace with honorless barbarians?"

"Surely they would say the same of you," Surak answered. "Each time one side injures the other, the side that was hurt nurses that injury, using it as an excuse for further violence. Instead of healing, the wound festers, sending corruption flowing through your mind as surely as a physical wound can poison the blood. Thus, the spear in the enemy's side is the spear in your own."

"How dare you draw an equivalence between us and them! We are nothing alike! Our grievances are real, while they condemn us for acts of justifiable self-defense!"

"I would expect a follower of Sudoc to spout such lies! Everyone knows that you attacked us without provocation, and then hid behind false claims to make us seem the villains when we retaliated!" The woman was jogging toward them. She fired her blaster again, but being aware of her, Solkar was able to dodge easily. She was close enough now to holster her energy weapon and draw a long, curved blade. Before she could get it fully out of its sheath, Solkar thrust forward with his spear.

Sliding his feet over the sand, Surak deftly sidestepped into the path of the strike. The point of the spear pierced his tunic and drove into his right shoulder.

The woman's eyes widened in disbelief. "You warned him of my attack before. Why have you saved me now?"

Solkar cursed. "You fool! My spear is-"

"Poisoned, I know." Surak had noted the telltale green tint of le-matya venom on the weapon's tip. His voice betrayed no hint of emotion, and his face showed a grimace of pain for only an instant before he stilled it. "It is as I said before. I favor none of the factions, for I wish to bring the message of logic to all." He glanced from Solkar to the woman. "You both owe me a life-debt now. Will you accede to a request of mine in fulfillment of that debt?"

After a moment, Solkar nodded. "To do otherwise would stain the honor of my clan."

"I, T'Pel, daughter of T'Lar, also acknowledge the debt," the woman said.

"Meld with each other."

"What?" Their indignant outbursts came at the same time.

"I will not ask you to touch each other directly; I do not expect that level of trust from you when your clans have been at war for so long. I will act as a conduit between you. Look into your enemy's heart, and see if what I say is not true."

The two combatants glared at each other warily. Neither was willing to forsake a life-debt in front of the other; it would be too humiliating. Surak reached out, his right arm already starting to feel heavy and weak. He placed one hand against Solkar's face and the other against T'Pel's. "My mind to your mind. Your thoughts to my thoughts."

Two fierce whirlwinds of uncontrolled emotion raged in Surak's mind. As he had suspected, they were barely distinguishable from each other. Both had undergone the ritual of the kahs-wan and succeeded on their first try. Both had lost close family members to the wars and felt the need for vengeance rise up in them like a tidal wave. Both had overcome initial skepticism from their comrades (Solkar for his small size and T'Pel for her gender) to be acknowledged as among the strongest warriors of their clans.

Do you see now? Surak asked. Solkar, T'Pel, you are not so different from each other. Is it logical to condemn another for things you have done as well? Is it logical to impugn another's motives when your own are the same? You see each other's minds directly, unfiltered by deception or propaganda. Will you deny the truth of your own perceptions? Or will you accept reality and adjust your beliefs to match it?

Surak withdrew his hands from the erstwhile adversaries' faces. They were staring at each other in open shock. "Your brothers..." T'Pel said.

"Your parents..." Solkar answered.

"You stayed behind to cover your squad's escape during the battle at the Gateway."

"You did the same in the foothills of Mount Seleya."

Beyond them, a shout of victory rose from a man surrounded by a protective circle of T'Pel's people. "I've done it! The weapon is finished!" Fear showed on the faces of the surviving members of Solkar's faction. The man in the circle stood from where he'd been kneeling, holding a vaguely ovoid object in his hands. Two horns curved out from the front of the device, which he aimed at the nearest warrior on Solkar's side. "May your own hatred for us destroy you!"

A golden glow shimmered between the horns of the device and flew outward, wrapping around the man the weapon's creator had targeted. He let out a bloodcurdling scream and crumpled to the ground.

"Wait! Gol, stop!" T'Pel called out, but her words were lost in the sounds of renewed battle. Aided by the weapon and bolstered by the proof of its deadliness, T'Pel's people struck down their enemies. "I'm sorry!" the woman said, reaching out toward Solkar.

"Only a few seconds ago, I would have done the same if that weapon were in my hands. This is not your-" Solkar paused in midsentence as he realized that the weapon's wielder was now aiming it at him.

T'Pel raised her hands in a placating gesture. "Gol, there's no need for this anymore." But Gol paid no attention, and another golden field took shape between the prongs of the weapon.

Surak placed a hand against the side of Solkar and T'Pel's faces once more, and transmitted a mix of phrases and images: Gol shouting, "May your own hatred for us destroy you!"-psychic weapon?-man sitting with eyes closed in meditation-empty mind of violent thoughts-may offer protection

Twisting radiance enveloped Solkar, but he didn't fall to the ground as the other man had done. The field passed through his body and dissipated in the air behind him.

"What? Why didn't it work this time?" Gol turned the weapon on T'Pel. "You tried to stop me from using it! Are you working with them now, traitor?" He fired the weapon, but T'Pel threw off its effects even more quickly than Solkar had.

Finally, Gol aimed at Surak. "What did you do when you melded with her? Corrupted her somehow? Are you forcing her to do your will?"

"I am forcing nothing," Surak replied. "I have simply showed T'Pel that she and her enemy were not as different as they thought they were. I extend the same offer to you-"

"No! Enough of this!"

As the field wrapped itself around him, Surak felt it probing his mind, seeking for rage and bloodlust as a climber on Mount Seleya might seek for handholds. But there were none. I no longer seek the fulfillment of such desires. Instead, I have chosen to end the desires themselves.

The last wisps of the field faded away, and Surak walked slowly toward Gol. "Stay back!" the other man warned, and drew the blade at his side. He lunged at Surak, but T'Pel darted forward and knocked the sword from his hand with her own. Solkar stepped up on his other side and clamped a hand down on the junction between Gol's neck and shoulder. Gol's knees buckled, and Surak laid him down on the sand.

"He will wake in an hour or so," Solkar reassured him and T'Pel. "But we must take this with us and find a way to destroy it." He held up the psychic weapon Gol had created. "It was why my people were attacking. We knew they were developing a devastating weapon, and were bringing it to a base across the desert for the final steps of its completion." He looked down at Gol's unconscious form. "For him to have improvised the last few mechanisms in the middle of a pitched battle...it is...I am sorry, Surak, but even with my eyes opened I find it hard to praise him."

"You need not apologize. Discipline and logic are not learned overnight. But will you begin the journey of learning them? Both of you, will you come with me? I have gathered a group of like-minded people, and you would be welcome among them."

T'Pel shrugged. "I can't go back to fighting after this. I may as well come, especially if it could help lead our people to peace."

"I agree," Solkar said. "I will come as well."

Surak opened his mouth to reply, but staggered. "The venom!" T'Pel exclaimed.

"There is no cause for fear," Surak said. "I have an antidote with me. Otherwise, I would have deflected the spear without stepping in front of it." He withdrew a hypo from his tunic and pressed it to his right arm, just below the wound.

The teacher and his disciples refilled their canteens at the oasis, then set out across the desert again. The heat rising from the sand made them waver, so that an onlooker could have been excused for thinking them a mirage, and then they were gone.


A/N: Since this is set long before the destruction of Vulcan, it should be compatible with either the original Star Trek timeline or the one established by the 2009 movie.

The "psychic weapon" is meant to be the Stone of Gol featured in the TNG episode "Gambit." A couple of Surak's lines here ("The spear in the enemy's side is the spear in your own" and "I no longer seek the fulfillment of such desires. Instead I have chosen to end the desires themselves") are quotes of his from canon (or at least semi-canon; the second one is from the TNG novel The Devil's Heart).

The title of the story is from one of Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddha)'s writings: "Nothing tends toward loss as does an untamed heart...Nothing brings suffering as does the untamed, uncontrolled, unattended, and unrestrained heart."