Title: "Caesar and Barbara"
Series: This is supposed to be happening on Earth at the same time as Voyager, so it's not TOS, TNG, DS9, or VOY. Not BEF, either. Maybe AFT.
Summary: Two cadets discover they have some things in common.
Feedback: Yes please, at email@example.com
Archive: anywhere you please, as long as you keep me posted on where it's archived
Acknowledgements: We all owe this post to Judith Gran, who noticed
me mentioning this story to someone and said it sounded interesting. I
had not previously posted it anywhere other than The Write Connection,
before I knew about any of the ASC* groups and when it was the only one
of my stories I felt comfortable posting anywhere. (It was the first fanfiction
story I'd ever posted and the third I'd even written, the first and second
being respectively "Genesis" and "Marriage or Challenge," a Spock/T'Pring
piece I started, hated, and never finished--but still may get around to
sometime...) I had not considered posting it to the ASC groups because
I didn't like it any more; it was written as a angry response to
social structures of high schools and colleges, and therefore contained
some rather exaggerated characterizations of "normal" students and showed
the "abnormal" ones suffering more than I supposed they really did; moreover,
I couldn't decide whether it was going to be a funny story or a serious
story and it ended up rather inconsistent in that respect (not to mention
that I know very little about Starfleet Academy and others like it).
Besides, I had "T'Ria and the Rain Man," which got across many of the same
ideas while being, in my opinion, a better story. Judith, however,
loved it, and when she agreed to beta it, all she suggested changing were
some literary techniques (mode of narration, placement of paragraphs,
etc.) I am posting it on her suggestion and I hope it pleases you as much
as it did her.
CAESAR AND BARBARA
"Barbara, Celarent, Darii, Ferioque prioris"
Earthdate Wednesday, September 5
The freshman pulled out a chair from the first table she encountered in Cafeteria 4, Starfleet Academy. Taking out the spaghetti dinner she'd synthesized in her dorm and setting it on the tabletop, she eased herself into the seat, tossing her backpack on the floor nearby. She grabbed the brim of her baseball cap and pulled it down hard, making sure it came down almost to her eyes. She hated baseball, but if it weren't for the cap, no one would try to interact with her at all.
Sure enough, it was doing its job again. A hot guy, full human in every visible physical respect and about her age, was approaching the table with a platter of tuna salad. With the cap covering the problem areas, she hadn't been able to keep the boys away ever since first year had started; Barbara was really a very pretty girl.
"Hi," said the gorgeous humanoid, dropping his tray lightly next to hers and sitting down at her side, so close as to almost touch her. "I don't think I've seen you before." She could almost feel his interest in her radiating off him.
"I'm new," she said cheerfully. "Just started this month. I'm one of the stupid-little-freshmen-don't-know-a-damn-thing. Or so I gather from senior conversations I've heard. My name's Barbara. Barbara Boole."
The boy grinned. "Mack Rowlands. What you majoring in?"
"Beta quadrant languages. Aiming at a job in communications." Barbara twirled her fork in the spaghetti, avoiding the olives. Her mother wanted her to be a vegetarian, but that was tough when she hated vegetables. "You?"
"I'm gonna be a captain. And not one of the wussies they have runnin' around these days. I'm gonna be just like old Jim Kirk, tell 'em to-" here followed an exceptionally vulgar suggestion for what to do with the Prime Directive. "Blast them aliens outta the sky. Except, if they try and make me an admiral, I'll-" [an additional string of disgusting threats]. "I ain't gonna sit at a damn desk all day. I need my ship and my goddamn photon torpedoes, man!" He leered at her again. "And don't forget all the sexy alien chicks. Say, how 'bout coming over to my place for a few drinks after lunch?"
Barbara rolled her eyes. Appearances were so deceptive. No problem, though, just take off the cap. She put her hand on the brim, and in a well-practiced motion, carefully designed to give the impression she was just removing it to straighten her hair, she dragged the hat off her head. Long black strands were pulled forward and clung to her face, as usual, but when she shook them back, her slanting brows and the sharp points of her ears stood out like Christmas lights. *Surprise! You still want to get me in bed, Mr. Testosterone?*
"Holy crap, a Vulcan!" The guy actually jumped up from his chair, with a look on his face as though she'd revealed a headful of Medusa snakes. It was even better than the usual reaction. Most guys just became excessively polite and nervous, scared out of their pants that they'd said something illogical.
"Yeah. Live long and prosper."
That usually did it, but this guy must have had a brain somewhere in his giant mass of male hormones. "You sure as hell don't talk like a Vulcan."
Barbara knew this was true, and at that moment resented the one respect in which she did talk like a Vulcan: she couldn't stand to lie. "Okay, so I'm not *all* Vulcan. My *mom* is a Vulcan. My dad's a logic professor. I'm named after a categorical syllogism. But I don't suppose you have the slightest idea what that is, do you?"
"I don't speak French, damn it. I got better things to do."
"A categorical syllogism," she sighed, pausing with a forkful of spaghetti near her mouth, "is a type of logical argument containing major, minor and middle terms. Barbara is mood AAA, figure 1. "
"There's an argument named Barbara?" He at least understood the word "argument," if not its meaning in logic terminology.
"The designation originated in the Middle Ages." A lengthy explanation of her name usually scared off even the worst of unwanted attentions, but she wasn't sure about this guy. "A poem was used as a mnemonic to help remember the moods and figures of the valid syllogisms. It was just a list of names, "Barbara, Celarent, Darii, Ferioque prioris" and so forth. What line of the poem a name was in meant the figure, the vowels in it were the mood. Barbara is in the line that comes before the word 'prioris'- which I don't suppose you understand either- so it's first figure. And Barbara contains three A's, so the mood is AAA. Two A premises and an A conclusion."
"Whadaya mean, A premises?"
Barbara sighed heavily. Worse than a guy who couldn't understand anything was one who couldn't understand anything and *wanted * to. "Premises are the propositions that are used to support the conclusion in a syllogism. An A-type proposition is universal and affirmative. 'All P are Q.' And a syllogism has figure 1 when the middle term is the subject in the major premise and the predicate in the minor premise. Like this: Premise one: All idiots are individuals required to leave this table. Premise two: All persons identical to you are idiots. Conclusion: Leave me alone."
"Uh... bye," said Mack, leaving so hurriedly he forgot his tuna.
Barbara sighed in satisfaction and reached for her baseball cap, then
had second thoughts and left it on the table. It wouldn't hurt to be a
Vulcan for the rest of lunch.
She was still carrying the hat when she got back to her floor of the dorm building an hour later. She turned the corner to the hall that led to her room. It would be such a relief to get her homework done and have a little nap.
"Hey! Here she is!"
Barbara stared in shock. The path to her door was obstructed by about fifteen human boys, none of whom she recognized, all grinning malevolently.
"Here's Barbara, Barbara the Vulcan three-A syllogism! Welcome home, Barbara!"
"Don't talk so damn nice to her. This is the chick what messed with Mack. Nobody messes with Mack what don't get her ass kicked."
"Out of my way. Immediately." Her eyebrows slanted even further in anger. "This is my room."
"But you don't own the hallway, baby. What can you do in your room that we can't help with?" A tall, muscular young man advanced menacingly toward her.
"Homework. Beta quadrant languages."
"Ooh, a sissy language major!" This witty remark drew a chorus of hysterical laughter from the speaker's companions. "What you minoring in, doll?"
"Ancient Earth history." In her rage her face was the color of the olives from her spaghetti. When Barbara blushed, her Vulcan heritage was emeraldly obvious. Unfortunately, enough green blood diluted her humanity that her faculty of predicting human responses to her actions was sadly stunted. "That's a field where I get to study a lot of people about as enlightened as you guys."
"And how 'bout your *middle*?" guffawed another boy, so wrapped up in his cleverness that he forgot to punch her lights out. Barbara should have been grateful, but she scowled.
"Ooh, are you in a bad *mood*, Triple-A?"
"Maybe, but her *figure* is number one!"
"Careful, Barbie, I think he's about to *proposition* you!"
Barbara strode up to the boy who seemed to be the leader of the pack, and stared him in the eye. She could do worse. "You know what happens to Vulcans," she hissed, "when they hear bad jokes like that?"
The fury of her look hypnotized him. "Uh... what?"
"Pun farr!" she roared, lifting a hand.
Before he could groan, he was knocked out cold.
As the rest of the boys scattered, Barbara Boole entered her dorm with a look of sublime satisfaction on her face. Thank whatever gods there were, she'd inherited at least one quality from her mother besides the ears.
She could do the neck pinch.
Earthdate Thursday, September 6
Caesar Goedel, human sophomore, reached into his brown canvas belt-pack surreptitiously and removed a small canister of pills. He looked around the bathroom very carefully to make sure no one was watching, wishing he had a cup of water so he could do what he was about to do in the privacy of one of the stalls. After a final glance at both doors leading into the hall, he shook the tablets and capsules out into his hand. Half a tiny white round tablet, half a slightly bigger oblong brown one, half a long fat green one and two long transparent capsules full of little orange spheres. He stared at them, cringing, then clapped the hand full of pills to his mouth and stuck his head under the faucet, mouth upwards, for a drink of water to wash them down.
As he swallowed, he looked up. At what he saw, he buried his face in his hands. That look had been thrown at the doors an instant too soon.
He had been watched the whole time.
"Hey, dude, whatcha doin'?" A young Bajoran man stood in the doorway, someone Caesar felt he ought to know, someone he'd seen in his classes millions of times, and someone whose name he couldn't have told you if his graduation depended on it. But Caesar never remembered names. "Drinking water," he said hurriedly.
"Yeah, I saw you drinking water. What'd you take *with* the water?"
"Chlorine." Caesar frantically thought of everything he knew was in the water besides water, playing for time to delay having to talk about the pills. "Iron. Trace elements, I don't know what."
"Cool." The guy walked through the room to one of the stalls, seeming to lose interest in Caesar for the moment. Caesar sighed in relief, glad that there were no more questions, though not sure what had prevented their being asked. People were so hard to understand. Sometimes it was easier just to ignore them.
He walked down the hall to his next class, counting the numbers on the doors as he went, stopping for a moment, as he always did, at number 123.
A young woman he knew (but again, not by name) paused next to him. "Why're you stopping here, psycho? This isn't your class."
Though people had always been impossible for Caesar to understand, he had made a few observations about this girl: firstly, that she always called him "psycho," and secondly, that every time he answered one of her questions, she responded by breaking out in singularly unpleasant laughter. So, in fact, did everyone who heard his reply to that particular question.
He stopped to smile at Room Number 123 every day because its digits were the only ones on that floor that were shown in the same consecutive order in which one counted them. From his experience hearing laughter of that sort in context, it was usually aimed at something illogical, and he supposed that people must laugh at him when he said that because stopping at that room for that reason had no perceptible benefit for his future existence, delayed him, in fact, by at least 14.9 seconds in his walk to the biology room.
Yet he couldn't understand why the other male students his age never got laughed at for the pastimes to which they devoted almost 40% of their lives, usually involving unusual costumes, large plots of land with green floors and painted stripes, leather spheres of various sizes and no visible purpose. Nor the females for spending the equivalent of at least half an hour a day adjusting the strings of dead cells that grew from their heads and the paint they adhered to their faces for no apparent reason. This girl had hair that looked hard, as though she had applied some chemical to it to make the strands stickier and stiffer, though Caesar couldn't imagine anyone deliberately doing that. Tangles in his hair and hairs that stuck together were high on his short list of things he absolutely could not stand, close behind hearing loud, continuous noises and touching honey or petroleum jelly. But other people might feel completely differently. You never knew with people.
He ignored the girl's question, turning away from 123 and heading down the hall.
When he reached the biology classroom, he was still the first one there. Or so he thought, until he saw a skinny girl a few years younger than he was, bending over a cage on the counter. Seeing that she wore a baseball cap, he immediately lost all interest in her.
Barbara leaned over the counter by the window, staring into the little terrarium at the experimental animals, which were a vivid greenish-blue, about the size and shape of doughnuts, and identified by a label on the glass as "small animal life form species 6248, Maia system." Textbooks defined them little better. One of the problems with space travel was that one couldn't possibly study in any kind of detail all the organisms one discovered.
The female rolled toward the wall of the cage, seeming, though it had no eyes, to examine Barbara inquisitively. Barbara wondered whether it should really be called a female. She had witnessed breeding in this species, which the textbooks described as involving "one female mating with four males simultaneously," and she had different thoughts. Her observations strongly indicated five separate genders.
As some tiny hairs on the creature's side moved, the reading changed slightly on the screen of the little contraption Barbara had persuaded the engineering professor to build for her. It was just as she had speculated at the beginning of the term, and just it had happened the last time she'd come in before class with the magnetic sensor tool: "species 6248" produced a rapidly fluctuating field of electromagnetism. A wave of one intensity would emanate from it and last a while, up to two seconds, followed by a longer or shorter wave of a different level, continuing until twenty or thirty varyingly strong, varyingly lengthy electromagnetic bursts had been emitted, whereupon it would stop, "look" at Barbara for a little while more, then lose interest and roll away to another part of the cage.
Barbara examined the list of readings. A few lengths and magnetic intensities were repeated three or four times, others less often, some not at all. Barbara was very curious as to whether the animals made these waves when they were with each other...
"Good old Barbie," said the young Klingon-Cardassian-human hybrid who had been hovering around her unnoticed. "Always more interested in the dumb animals than anything else. Little scientist, aren't you? No more social life than a goddamn Vulcan."
Silently, as though in greeting, but with a look of perfect, emotionless dignity, Barbara raised her hat. Just long enough to give a fleeting glimpse of the ears, possibly short enough to allow the girl to decide later that she had imagined them, then it was replaced promptly, and she swept past her classmate and seated herself at her usual desk, ready for class to begin.
Back in her dorm, Barbara switched on her personal viewscreen and typed in the code to contact her father at his Minnesota home. He appeared on the monitor, looking, as he always did, just like a logic professor. In the background, so far away she couldn't hear or be heard, her mother was seated in an armchair quietly reading. T'Lisi's short, jet-black hair with its even bangs contrasted sharply with Robert Boole's balding head and shaggy gray beard.
Her father's face lit up when he saw her. "Why, hello, T'Vua!" he cried, calling her by a favorite nickname given her long ago by her mother (for logical reasons, of course; T'Lisi had trouble pronouncing "Barbara."). "What brings you here?"
"I am not there," said his daughter, using her best imitation of her mother's voice. "I am in my quarters, Room 715, Floor 7, Chekov Dorm Building, Starfleet Academy."
"Spoken like a true Vulcan. Would be more convincing without the grin. May I help you?"
"My dominant problem at the moment is that nobody likes me."
"What? A gorgeous girl like you? Tell me about it."
Barbara sighed. "Unfortunately, with college students, that ceases to be an attraction once it is discovered that I have a *brain*. Yesterday I was compelled to use the nerve pinch on a gang of humans who intended physical violence because I objected to the advances of their sex-crazed pal Mack something-or-other, and then today Feria Heinz accused me of lack of such qualities as social life and interest in anything besides Small Animal Life Form Species 6248. I had been studying this creature, which is certainly the most intelligent thing I've ever seen in a cage in a biology classroom-"
"You're getting off track. I want to hear about your social problems."
"Okay, here they are. I'm too ticked off to manage a categorical syllogism right now, so how about one of those 'Fortunately, unfortunately' stories they made us write in grade school? Here goes. Fortunately, I've got my mom's pretty ears. Like you used to say when I was a toddler. Unfortunately, aforesaid pretty ears, when seen by college kids, raise feelings of 'Oh, gosh, I've got to be super-logical around this chick' and 'This babe isn't gonna be any fun; I'll just ignore her.' Fortunately, I can wear my lucky baseball cap, even though I hate baseball, and nobody sees the pretty ears. Unfortunately, there turns out to also be something *between* the ears. And there's where the problem starts, because try as I may, I can't hide *that*." Barbara was near crying. "There's this war going on inside me. Your genes want friends and social interaction, Mom's are getting swamped by all the illogic. I've got the Vulcan intelligence and the human emotions, and only one of those is acceptable here. I had hoped people would mature a little once they got out of high school, but...especially the boys..."
"I know about boys." Barbara's father smiled sympathetically. "Very few of them ever mature at all. And you say you don't fit in with the Vulcan students either?"
"*They* expect total emotionlessness. They ignore me. I need to show *both* sides of me." The tears were flowing thickly now. "And my birthday is coming up, just a week from tomorrow, and I don't have anyone to spend it with!"
"Sure you do. You've got us." Her father's expression was gentle. "It's only your first month of college, Barbara, sweetheart. You'll have a lot of time to make friends. If you go around right now scraping up people to invite to your party, you'll have guests, but they won't share any of your interests, and it'll be a disaster. Your mom and I will take you out to dinner the weekend after your birthday. We've got lots of presents for you already." Mr. Boole smiled. "I'd better warn you that most of the gifts your mother got you are... well, *logical* things."
"So what else is new?" Barbara grinned through her tears. "Thanks, Dad. You've cheered me up."
Caesar was about to stop at his usual point in the hall next to Room 123 that Friday when he realized that someone was already standing there. It was the girl with the baseball cap from his biology class. He stood next to her for a few minutes, smiling as he always did at the number 123 next to the door, counting its digits silently as though to make sure they hadn't stopped being the first three positive whole numbers.
"Am I in your way?" the girl asked.
"No. I... I just like to stand here looking at this door for a while every day." He blushed.
"Why?" She seemed genuinely curious.
"Uh... never mind." He felt his face was going to burst. She had such a nice voice.
"I'm sorry." She smiled gently at him. "May I tell you why *I* like to look at this door?"
Caesar turned toward her almost fearfully. "Sure." She was pretty. Oh, was she pretty.
"Because its digits are not only the three factors of six," she said, "but three numbers that add up to equal six. It's called a perfect number. Six, I mean. It's the first one. 28 is the second."
And she smiled again and was gone, almost before his brain had processed what she had said.
Caesar silently factored six in his head and got one, two and three. Then he tried twenty-eight and got fourteen, seven, four, two and one.
He added them up, one at a time.
She was right.
Earthdate Monday, September 10
"Who is that boy?" Barbara casually asked a Bajoran student in the hallway.
"Which? The fat Klingon?"
"No, the human. Kind of short, not really skinny but not fat either, brown hair."
"Oh, him. He's Caesar. Caesar Goebbels."
"Goedel," corrected the boy's girlfriend angrily, poking him in the side.
"Right. He's a weirdo. Obsessed with math. And he does drugs."
"Drugs?" Barbara raised an eyebrow under her hat.
"Yeah. Chlorine and iron and trace elements."
The other eyebrow joined its mate at the top of her forehead. "I've never heard of anyone using those as recreational drugs. What trace elements?"
"How should I know? That's what he said."
"And he is interested in math?"
"Obsessed. He stares at Room 123 every day because it's the first three numbers, or something. He's a total nerd. Ask him something sometime, he says the weirdest things. We laugh our heads off at some of the things he says. Mira asked him once-"
"I did not," interrupted the girlfriend.
"Yes you did. You said-"
"I really have to go to class now," said Barbara.
All the way to biology she couldn't stop thinking. *Caesar...*
*Strange*, thought Caesar Goedel as he sat down at the desk in the front row of biology class, looking back over his shoulder once in a while at the girl in the cap. *Interest in sports and interest in mathematics are usually incompatible. Perhaps this is an exception. Or perhaps there's some other reason for wearing that hat...
"Last week we studied the cells of Delta Quadrant plant life," said Professor Stevenson, pulling out his digital slide show machine. "Now we'll enter a new section on animals. Our first experiment, which starts today, will be on Small Animal Species 6248."
"WHAT?" Barbara stood up at her desk. "Professor, shouldn't we research just how sentient a creature is before we go cutting it up?"
A wave of laughter spread through the room, accompanied by various murmurs to the effect of "There goes Barbara the animal rights activist again." Even the teacher sighed. "Barbara, we've been through this before. The Interplanetary Science Education System would not transport a sentient being light-years from its home planet to be experimented on. The lawsuits would be terrible."
The class giggled collectively once more at the idea of being sued by a species that looked like blue doughnuts. Barbara did not laugh. "But how do we even *define* a sentient being, Mr. Stevenson? You don't know what a 6248 is thinking any more than you know what a mouse is thinking."
Wrong word choice. "Exactly. And the fact that it was transported here proves that Species 6248 is officially considered by the Federation to be on the same intelligence level as a mouse. A simple observation should indicate that, Barbara. It is eight centimeters in diameter. It has no hands, no eyes, no communication ..."
"How do you know it doesn't have eyes?" Barbara was really in a frenzy, all of a sudden. She had her reasons to believe that the Species 6248 weren't as dumb as they looked... "It could have a means of visual perception humanoids don't even understand! And hands? It could have appendages capable of using tools, ones that are only extended when it has the need and ability to use them-which is *not* in a little glass tank with nothing in it except a food bowl! And communication? How do you know it doesn't have some incredibly advanced language, one that you can't hear or understand? *Every* animal has communication, professor. The simplest birdsongs have meaning. Some insects communicate by smell. Even a *mouse* can tell others what its territory is-did you know that a pregnant female's body, if she even smells the urine of a male mouse other than her mate, will automatically abort her offspring?"
The class erupted again in laughter over the concepts of urine and pregnancy, and Barbara sighed in exasperation. "The point is, we didn't *discover* these things until thousands of centuries after we discovered birds, and insects, and mice. How can the Federation declare a creature non-sentient if we've only known about it for ten years? How can we be sure even a *mouse* isn't sentient enough to justify protection of the law? There are humans who think about as much as a mouse does-not that I know anything about how a mouse thinks! *Where do we draw the line*?"
"Barbara," said Professor Stevenson, "if that's your opinion, you can write a paper and present it to the authorities of the Federation. And today's experiment involves no dissection. We are merely going to scrape a small piece of skin off the side of each animal and examine it on the cellular level. And you do not have to participate if you object to it morally."
"Then I won't," said Barbara, grimacing.
As the class moved to get their microscopes and scalpels, Caesar summoned the courage to walk up to Barbara.
"I'm not going to do it either," he told her.
She smiled at him, a beautiful sad smile. "Then I know," she said wearily, "that there's at least one sentient being in this room."
"Latest news about Barbara," announced Tiffany at the small table in the corner of Cafeteria 3, where her little group of friends, all humans, all underclassmen, met every day after class.
"What? She's got a brother named Celarent?" grinned Sophie.
"And a sister named Darii?" put it Melanie. The two were logic majors.
"You nerds," laughed Tiffany. She was a geometry and physics major, aimed at a career in engineering, hardly one to accuse anyone of nerdiness.
"We're all nerds here," Rachel reminded her. "This is the Nerd Table. Minimum SAT score of 770 on at least one section and maximum past boyfriend count of zero are prerequisites to sitting here. Let Tiff tell us the latest news about Barbara."
"She's a *Vulcan*."
"WHAT?" The whole table turned to meet Tiffany's eyes, astonished.
"I saw the ears. She tipped her hat to Feria yesterday and I saw 'em."
"Why would she keep that a secret the whole time?"
"What guy is gonna go out with a Vulcan?" Rachel pointed out.
"Another Vulcan?" suggested Melanie.
"Not with *this* girl," said Sophie. "She's either *very* unorthodox, or the ears are a dominant trait."
"You mean, she's part something else?" Rachel looked confused.
"Rach," groaned Sophie, "in all the time we've been evaluating Barbara in terms of possible candidacy for Nerd Table membership, have you paid *any* attention to her behavior?"
"Only that she's got perfect attendance, never gets less than an A on anything, and forms close bonds with lab animals."
"Especially Species 6248," added Melanie.
"Well, she smiles more than you do. And you can't have helped noticing the contractions."
"Contractions? You mean she's pregnant?"
"*No*, dumbo, I mean she uses words with *apostrophes* in them. As in, 'It's such a lousy day, I'm gonna stay in my room even if there's no rain,' spoken September 5, 1:48 p.m. Or, even better: 'Professor Stevenson, aren't you going to do something? Sam just said a worm can't go on this chart because it isn't an animal, it's an insect. That's a capital offense, isn't it?' Spoken yesterday. Two o'clock."
This was met with universal giggles and smiles of approval.
"But that's not all, girls. Listen to what's coming up in a week."
"Hey, psycho, look at this," said a familiar girl, running up to Caesar after biology the next day.
"A note on your palmtop?"
"Yeah. It showed up while Stevenson was talking about genomes. He gave me a nasty look before I could download it. It's from Tiffany. You know, the one with the long curly blond hair?"
Caesar furrowed his brows. "The one with the long curly blond hair," from his experience, was not the type who passed notes. This must be something important. "Let me see it. What's your download code?"
"You think I'm gonna tell you? I downloaded it already. Right after class ended. She attached a message saying give it to you. 'Cause your computer doesn't do the note thing. But it's something... well, something that might certainly be of interest to you." She smiled knowingly.
" 'Tiffany, Sophie, Melanie and Rachel plan surprise 21st birthday party Sept. 14 at noon in biology classroom for a certain lady in a baseball cap,' " Caesar read aloud off the little screen. " 'Caesar Goedel invited.' That's all?" But he sounded excited already. It had been more than a day already since he had stood by Barbara at Room 123, and all that time he hadn't been able to get her out of his head.
"What do you mean, that's all? That certain lady in a baseball cap, Caesar Goedel, is a Vulcan."
"Vulcan? I didn't know that. Interesting."
"And did you notice the number mentioned?"
"Twenty-one? A little old for a freshman, of course... but then, one doesn't know when Vulcans traditionally start college."
"That, no ear puns intended, is not the *point*! You're the mathematician, psycho. *Factor* that number. What's it a goddamn multiple of?"
Caesar thought. "Well, one, of course... and three... and...* seven*..." His face suddenly became as white as the plaster of the wall behind him, then quickly flushed beet red. He had heard some things...
"*Precisely*! Now tell me, psycho, that you don't want to be in the same room with that chick when her age turns a multiple of seven, and *damned* if I'll even *consider* believing you!" The wide grin on her face was so ribaldly suggestive that for almost the first time in his life Caesar wanted to hit someone. How could she have noticed, in a day, how attracted he was to this girl he'd only talked to twice? What was the reason for the attraction itself? Love at first sight was illogical. But then, it hadn't been first sight. He'd seen her at the lab cage a day before, and he'd decided on the evidence of her baseball cap alone that she was completely uninteresting. How wrong he'd been! How deceptive appearances were! By the time he realized where he was, he was running down the hall, faster than he ever had before, as though the party were in ten minutes.
Go to the party? Outrageous. He hadn't been to a party attended by anyone outside his family since... since his baby shower! How would he know what to do? And if seven times three were twenty-one, there would be problems he wouldn't even know how to *think* about. Go to the *party*? Who was *she* to call *him* psycho?
He tried to calm himself down. It might not happen *exactly* on the birthday. Did it even happen to girls? What if she was betrothed? She probably was. It probably wouldn't work with anyone other than her bond-mate. In fact, she'd probably be absent on that day. He remembered how angry she had gotten in class. She must be losing emotional control already. What would the stress of a surprise party do to her? It couldn't be a good idea...
But he knew already that he was going to go. No matter what might happen,
he was a scientist at heart, and he was curious. How many times had explorers
of the Federation gotten themselves almost killed just because they were
scientists, just because curiosity was a blood fever in itself...
Earthdate Wednesday, September 12
Biology class began the next day, at 1:00 as usual. Barbara was the only one in the room when Caesar entered. She was by the Species 6248 cage again, scanning it with a tiny device he didn't recognize.
Caesar was a little wary of speaking to her... under the circumstances... but he wanted to do anything he could to make her feel at least a little better. "How are you?" he said.
"How *am* I?" said Barbara absentmindedly.
"Yes. How *are* you?" And he really wanted to know.
Caesar raised a very Vulcanish eyebrow.
"I *think*," said Barbara, turning a dial on her machine, "therefore I *am*. Descartes. Come look at this."
"The Species 6248?" Caesar couldn't help smiling...and feeling a little more relaxed. She didn't sound like a Vulcan, but she sounded comfortable, at least.
"You like the number?"
"It's the counting-by-two digits. Except 6 is out of place."
"So it is. But it should go first, anyway." She held up the contraption to look at it.
"Because it's perfect." Their eyes met and she smiled at him. It was a different smile this time, happier.
"Are you examining them to see if the experiment the other day hurt them?"
"I did that when I first got here, about twelve o'clock. The skin appears to regenerate quite efficiently. They don't seem to have become infected or anything. What I'm doing is scanning their electromagnetic field. Look at this."
As Caesar leaned over to look, the usual crowd of students pushed into
the room, followed by Professor Stevenson. Barbara hid her tool quickly.
"I'll tell you later," she whispered.
The professor sat down at his desk a trifle nervously, Barbara thought, and she was right.
"Ah... he began, shifting some papers on his desk. "Next week, we will be beginning an experiment which will last all term...and, I expect, will raise objections among...some people." He deliberately avoided making eye contact with Barbara during this sentence; one could have figured out that he meant her merely by identifying the one person he *didn't* look at. If he had looked at her, he would have seen a start of angry apprehension.
"Well, remember how we observed the... ah... mating at the very beginning of the school year?"
More idiotic laughter from the class. Of course they remembered. Barbara recalled most of the boys shouting vulgar encouragement at the male-type Species 6248. Except the oldest full human; he had insulted the size of their reproductive organs. Caesar had just hidden in a corner blushing.
"Well, the female is now in the early stages of pregnancy. On Wednesday we'll start looking at the growth of its embryos."
Barbara looked up hard-eyed. "How," she spat, "are we going to be doing this?"
A heavy sigh from Professor Stevenson. "We will not," he assured her, "harm the female."
"That's damn lucky. Will we harm the embryos?"
"I asked a question. Will we?"
"We will make a tiny incision in its side and remove..."
"...remove one of its offspring and dissect..."
"...the week after that we will extract a second one..."
"...continue until we have covered the whole gestation period, possibly lasting until May..."
"...learn how each stage of embryonic growth differs from the others..."
"Shut up! I am not going to do that! I refuse! This is a sentient creature!" Barbara had stood up with such energy that she had knocked over her desk and chair. Her whole body was on fire. "This is in violation of all sorts of directives..."
"You," said the professor with tried patience, "do not have to do it if you don't want to."
"I am not going to let you do it."
"You do not have that authority, Miss Boole."
Without a word, Barbara stood up, gathered her backpack and palmtop
computer, and left the room.
A knock on her dorm room door roused Barbara from near-trance. She had been working for three hours at her computer. Long forgotten were her homework and anything other than Species 6248. The cap was still jammed down on her head, forgotten with the rest of the universe.
Caesar Goedel pushed the door open gently. "Hi."
"Hi, Caesar! What a surprise!" The cheerfulness was forced. "No one ever visits this dorm."
"Mine either. What're you doing?"
"Writing a paper."
"It has to do with biology."
Caesar could think of a lot of things that could have meant.
"What kind of... biology?"
"Biology 101, Studies in Alpha Quadrant Life, in which intelligent beings are from their mother's womb untimely ripp'd, and then unseam'd from the nave to th' chops. I am violently opposed to abortion when it's performed against the mother's will." Barbara typed furiously for a few moments. Caesar could see the anger and dismay in her face, and it was nothing he'd ever seen in a Vulcan. Her control must be going fast. "Um... are you feeling well?"
"Physically? Fit as a fiddle. Emotionally? I'll be honest, Caesar. My nerves are shot. My pulse is skyrocketing. I'm near panic."
So she was so far gone she would even admit to emotion. They sounded like the right symptoms, too. "Maybe you should talk to your parents about it."
"I will, as soon as I get the paper done." Another paragraph, nearly a half-page, typed in seventy seconds.
Caesar wanted to say her name, and realized he didn't know it. It was to be expected of him, that his first crush would get at least this far before he found out the girl's name. He decided to try with a Vulcan word.
"What did you just call me?" She whirled around.
"Uh... doesn't it mean 'friend'?"
"*Among* other things. You can call me Barbara from now on. *Barbara*, not Barbie."
"Okay." His face was burning with humiliation, but at least he knew her name now. "Barbara?"
"Is there anything I can do... to help you?"
Even Caesar could tell in her expression that what he said had no unspoken significance to her. "No. I'll work this thing out on my own. But I'll do it. I'll stop that disgusting experiment if it takes me all the time between now and Wednesday."
*She doesn't know what's happening to her. And I can't tell her. Vulcans don't talk about it. She'll have to wait till her instincts tell her. And then, I'll be...*
"But it's so nice of you to be concerned. I'm sorry if I'm being a little harsh with you now. I'm really stressed out, and I've had a really hard time fitting in, Caesar. All my life."
"Same here," he murmured. "Maybe we have a lot in common, Barbara. I could never fit in anywhere. I feel like I'm... like I'm a hybrid between two planets, like I was part human and part some other species. I had this one side of me wanting to have friends, and this other part that couldn't understand the first thing about people, and didn't even like them. I've never been able to get why people act the way they do. But I want them to accept me, Barbara."
"I feel your pain," she muttered, staring at her monitor. "Maybe I should go for your solution."
He blushed crimson. "Who told you about the drugs?"
"An idiot. He said you were on chlorine. And iron. And 'trace elements,' whatever he meant by that."
"It's not chlorine. Or iron. Or trace elements."
"I know that. You think I'm stupid?"
Caesar wondered if *he* were stupid, considering what he was about to say. He didn't understand people. All he knew was that the last time he had said anything to anyone about why he took the pills... long ago in grade school... such cruel things had been said to him, there had been such loss of the respect of the world, that he had taken every possible precaution to avoid the subject ever since. But Barbara was different. Slowly, hesitantly, he listed the names of the medications and added almost inaudibly, "My...my psychiatrist prescribes them."
Barbara turned to look at him for a moment. "I recognize some of those," she said. "I have a cousin who takes one of them for epilepsy. You have epilepsy?"
He looked at the floor. "A little. But mostly autism. But don't tell anyone."
"Autism," murmured the language major. "From the ancient prefix 'auto.' Meaning 'self.' The condition of being alone. So appropriate for the disorder in question that two scientists working independently of each other on opposite sides of the world, discovering it at the same time, both named it autism." She sighed. "A psychologist named Oliver Sacks, long before the invention of warp drive, referred to an autistic woman as an 'anthropologist on Mars.' She was a lot like you; mild social disabilities, modest savant skills... but still wracked with inner turmoil. Born with the desire for social interaction, but without the instincts to understand the illogical customs of humanity, she had to spend a lifetime studying the human culture, as though she were from a foreign planet, before she could fit in. Yes, Caesar, we have a lot in common all right."
She fell to typing so intently that she didn't notice when he shut the door and left.
"But stop acting like I'm supposed to behave like a full Vulcan," she
said to an empty room.
Earthdate Friday, September 14
It was the fourteenth of September.
"Are you sure she'll come?" whispered Melanie from her hiding place.
"Sure! Certain! Positive as a sodium about to bond with a chlorine! She comes every day at noon. Hour before the class. She's got some secret experiment she does with the Species 6248."
"Chlorine's positive in NaCl. Sodium's negative."
"No it's not."
"Shut up. Here she comes."
Barbara Boole entered the biology lab, magnetism sensor in hand, only to nearly drop it in shock when she looked around the room. All the lab tables were covered with paper tablecloths printed in colorful Happy Birthday patterns... crepe paper was strung from rafter to rafter... the audio system was playing music, a special collection of ancient songs-yes, someone had remembered that she was a history minor...and in the middle of her desk sat a huge pink-and-yellow-frosted cake, nearly covered on the top with light green icing making up the AAA-1 syllogism and the words "Happy 21st! Live Long & Prosper Barbara!"
"SURPRISE!!!" The seemingly empty room was suddenly filled with classmates: thin, tall Tiffany with the blond curls emerging from behind Professor Stevenson's desk, childish-looking little Melanie leaping out from under a lab table, chubby red-headed Rachel crawling out of a corner, lively Sophie with her stumpy brown braids bursting from inside a cabinet-
"The Nerd Table wishes you the best of birthdays," said Tiffany, bowing.
"A top-secret organization dedicated to providing those too intellectually advanced for ordinary society with entertainment and companionship. Pleased to meet you."
"We've been carefully monitoring your actions for the past week," put in Sophie, "and we find you to be a quite admirable character. We'd be delighted to learn more about you. Won't you have some cake?"
*Nobody talks like that!* was the first thought that occurred to Barbara Boole. *I've heard the hormone-crazed boys who want to be captains so they can seduce extraterrestrials and blow things up, and I've heard the ditsy cheerleader-type girls who enrolled because they think they look cute in Starfleet uniforms, and I've heard the promiscuous alcoholic last-people-on-Earth-you'd-want-on-a-starship who are only here because their parents made them apply, and I've never heard anyone talk like that outside a book! Maybe I've only begun discovering who goes to the Academy... maybe there are people like me after all...*
Her face split into the least Vulcan of smiles. "Gladly."
"Now, you see, you have to tell us all about yourself," said Sophie between mouthfuls of cake. "What, for example, interests you so very much about Species 6248?"
"Their language," said Barbara simply.
"Their *language*?" Heads turned toward her from every direction.
"Observe," said the half-Vulcan, rising from her chair in sudden excitement. The others followed her to the cages on the far counter. "See how the female-I mean, the female-type gender; I've got my own opinions about that-see how she rolls over to the side of the cage when I come? Look at the screen on this gadget." Numbers flashed rapidly across the magnetic gauge. "That's an electromagnetic field. A series of electromagnetic waves of differing lengths and intensities. Notice how this one-a reading of 7.4, on the new T'Cura measurement system, and lasting for a second and a half- was repeated about three times there. That's a pretty common word, as far as I can tell. It's used in every sentence, usually at least twice. Damn it, I wish I knew what it meant. I wish I knew what all of it meant."
"Incredible," whispered Melanie.
"She's not just a nerd," murmured Rachel, "she's a genius."
"A language that complicated usually means a higher intelligence than should be kept in a lab cage," said Tiffany with an air of indignation.
"Or dissected," added Melanie.
"Precisely. Which I plan to make known to the professors. I'm doing a paper on it. And I'm damned if I don't get it done before Wednesday. Before that horrible experiment."
"Way to go! If I were as smart as you, that's what I'd do."
"You go girl!" The old-fashioned expression was uncharacteristic for Sophie, but in her admiration, nothing else would do.
"Latest News," announced Tiffany. "Barbara Boole found highly suitable for Nerd Table membership."
"Syllogism AAA-1 Proven Valid," chimed in Melanie.
Barbara blushed slightly in happiness. Someone who admired her... people who considered her a member of their group... Suddenly she wanted to hug them all at once. How could she have lived for two weeks in the same biology class with these intelligences, these personalities, and not noticed them? Her eyes became slightly moist, in spite of herself. Nerd Table. What a funny name.
"You really think they're intelligent?" said Caesar, leaning over the cage. "I mean, not that I don't think so-but it's just a lot to get used to, that something that looks like a doughnut could be as smart as us."
"Infinite diversity," Barbara reminded him. "Intelligent life can look like anything. Remember Hortas."
"Do you know how we define a doughnut shape in geometry class?" piped up Tiffany the aspiring engineer. "It's called a torus. 'The collection of all points that are the same distance away from a circle.' Kind of like the definition of a circle, as the collection of all coplanar points that are the same distance away from one other point-"
"Or 'a regular polygon with an infinite number of sides,'" added Rachel.
"You said it's called a torus?" Caesar was grinning about something.
"Well, what's so funny about that?" asked Barbara.
"Well, Stevenson implied the babies were due late April, possibly early May."
"So?! You're the ancient Earth history minor, Barbara Syllogism. Do you recall studying a concept known as 'astrology'?"
"Oh...April 20 to May 20...so they would be..."
"*Taurus*," groaned Melanie before collapsing in a fit if giggles.
"Hey, Barbara, if you stop that experiment, can I name one of the babies B'Elanna?" howled Caesar.
"Very funny," said Barbara, trying her hardest to control an expression of that amusement.
"Careful about saying that outside the Nerd Table, though. I think... though I'm not positive... that ordinary people have some sort of taboo on joking about the Voyager tragedy."
"What do you think happened to them, anyway?" mused Rachel. "How did they just disappear like that? I heard the Alpha Quadrant had gotten some message from them recently..."
"Yeah," acknowledged Caesar, "that's how we found out about B'Elanna, and some of their other new crewmembers. But I don't remember much else about it... some of it they're keeping classified anyway."
"Maybe V'Ger ran across them," suggested Sophie, "and thought it had found itself and experienced an identity crisis and blew them both up."
"Or maybe Janeway went back in time to the twentieth century and traded it in for a Plymouth Grand Voyager," put in Barbara.
"Or a Ford," said Melanie.
Another song was coming on. It was a very old one, maybe three hundred years old...and lively.
"Page Two story," added Tiffany. "Starfleet Academy Science Lab Transformed to Ballroom. Do Vulcans dance?"
"This one does," said Barbara. "Hey, Caesar! Over here!"
Wasn't it a jubilee
Wasn't it a jubilee
They were singing all together
They were shouting reveries
Lord, wasn't it a jubilee*
Barbara moved to the music with Caesar. Neither of them knew the first thing about dancing, but Barbara was nearly delirious with a light-headed sort of enjoyment. She'd almost forgotten all her problems, dancing with this fascinating man whose connection to her she didn't even yet fully understand...
Caesar was not as happy. To be honest, he was scared out of his senses. His dance partner's exuberance, and her willingness to dance with him in the first place, struck him as a signal that although she herself might not recognize it, she was entering the late stages of...of something he would not want to mention to her or any Vulcan. He didn't know if he could handle what might be about to happen. His experience with the female gender up until now was limited to having girls call him "psycho."
What if it happened right here, in the biology classroom? How long would
it take? Class started in half an hour. One might never know about people,
but Caesar was sure Professor Stevenson would not approve. And who knew
what Barbara's bond-mate would think, if she were betrothed. If it happened
with Caesar, which one of them would she have to marry? Would it make a
difference, or would her betrothed still get her? He was suddenly jealous
of someone he didn't even know existed. Even though he was not the least
bit ready to get married. He found himself desperately wishing he hadn't
come to the party. People were so confusing!
*They were banging on the banjos
They were picking on guitars
They were blowing out the bass notes
On the crockery jars...*
Barbara lifted their clasped hands high in the air and twirled around, laughing. But in among her waves of joy she was beginning to feel a slight uneasiness. It wasn't just that Caesar was barely moving now, standing there like a nervous mannequin... it wasn't that the others were glancing at her curiously, their grins fading into puzzled frowns as they wondered how a Vulcan could look that happy... it was something inside... or maybe it had to do with the cages on the counter...
*They were coming from the valleys
They were coming from the towns
They came to see the paddlewheel
And the showboat clowns
They coming from the farmlands
They were coming from the sea
Lord wasn't it a jubilee*
Yes... it was the cages... and she was realizing something...
They had slowed to a stop now. They were no longer dancing, they just stood there facing each other. Caesar's pulse was going so fast he couldn't distinguish one beat from the next. Barbara was fidgeting nervously, but still holding his hand. Her hair was wild, her baseball cap was tilted way off to one side, showing the delicate point of her left ear. He had never seen her ears before, and they were surprisingly attractive. He felt his skin tingle where it touched the palm of her hand.
*They were laughing out happy
They were crying out free
Lord, wasn't it a jubilee*
Both blushing madly, they would have made a nice Christmas picture. But she was beautiful. She was absolutely beautiful. She squeezed his hand, just slightly, as the last verse of the music ended.
*Well isn't it a picture
All these times gone by
Well he used to tell me stories
With a twinkle in his eye
And I wished I could've been there
As I sat upon his knee
Jubilee... Granddad, I bet it was a jubilee!*
Suddenly her fingers dropped his and she turned away. "Caesar... Excuse me, I have to do something."
"What?" *What indeed,* he rebuked himself. So it was really happening. He almost had a heart attack. But why was she turning away from him, looking toward the window?
"For... for the bond?"
She looked at him as if she wanted to call him psycho, too. "Bond? What're you talking about? For *understanding.* For * communication.* They can tell me everything if I just touch their minds! I hadn't wanted to do it at first... it's a real invasion of privacy... but I can't wait any longer. I've just suddenly admitted to myself it's the only way I'm going to save them." A smile spread across her face as she ran across the room to the windowsill, Caesar looking on in blank astonishment, and pulled open the relevant cage. The Species 6248 female-that-might-not-have-been-a-female regarded her with anticipation for a moment before she scooped it up into her cupped palms.
"Here I am," she said in almost a shriek of laughter, eyes closed as the animal wriggled in her hands. "Yes, I can! And I know. No, they don't. No one deserves to be killed. They just don't know anything. Why? Why did they? How the hell should I know? Why do they put *anybody* in a cage? 'Cause they think it's fun." The doughnut-shaped creature twisted frantically. "Yes, they are. They're sicker than anything. But you've gotta learn to put up with 'em. They're all over the galaxy."
By this point everyone was staring incredulously at Barbara, at her unnatural pose and tightly clenched eyes and the wide, uncanny smile as she stroked the tiny being, talking, as it seemed, to herself. "I know. I know. But how? Where can you live? We've got a pretty different planet from yours. What do you eat, anyway? I never took the trouble analyzing your food."
The smile remained a smile, but gradually transformed to one of delighted surprise. "Carbon hydrogen oxygen oxygen oxygen hydrogen potassium carbonate..." she murmured, then flew into a rapid chant of element names that not even the Nerd Table members could keep up with.
"IronzinccoppersulfurbrominesodiumCHLORIDE!" she finished after about a minute, lifting the pseudo-female high in the air and spinning around in glee. "I don't believe it, you've got all the same amino acids...or damn close, at least! You sound like you'd be best off on a dandelion diet... weed control is gonna love you..." Barbara Boole grabbed the handle on the window and yanked it wide open. It was early afternoon on a pleasant September day and the refreshing air poured in around her.
"What are you DOING?" gasped Melanie.
Barbara gave no answer. Shifting the weight of the animal to her left hand, she reached into the cage with her right and scooped up all the others. Male-types were a little smaller. She cradled them all for one last friendly moment in her hands...
Then threw them out the window!
"Barbara, you're out of your MIND! We're on the FIFTH FLOOR!" All four girls, plus Caesar, ran to her side to look down at the falling members of Species 6248.
But they found they had to look up. One by one, the little round doughnut shapes were sprouting four-centimeter-long blades that extended swiftly all around their circumference... beginning to spin like tops in the air... first slowly, then faster, finally so rapidly that you couldn't even have told that they were spinning, spinning so fast that they rose higher and higher into the sky, flying in formation, farther and farther away until they were invisible to human or Vulcan eyes...
The whole Nerd Table looked at Barbara in wonder. The half-Vulcan was breathing hard in happy exhilaration as she watched her new friends out of sight.
"You weren't supposed to do that," said Melanie. "You are going to get in big trouble."
"So are you, if we don't get this party cleaned up before class starts," retorted Barbara. "You think *you're* supposed to throw a birthday bash in the science lab?"
As she and Caesar headed to the trash disintegrator with armfuls of paper tablecloth and disposable plates, he looked at her strangely. "You all right?"
"Fine, now. Never felt better."
"You...got everything you needed?"
"Everything. The language is burned in my head. Like a brand. Amazing language. More complicated than Klingonaase, brilliant verb conjugation methods...the irregular ones would take most people a millennium to figure out, just studying. If Stevenson will let me touch his mind..."
"You don't have to worry about that now. They're loose."
Barbara smiled. "You're right. And I couldn't stand being in that slimeball's head anyway. Say, Caesar, you know what magnetism level 7.4, lasting 1.5 seconds means? The one that's repeated twice every sentence?"
"Of course not. What?"
"It means 'out.'"
They exchanged a grin. But Caesar was still uneasy. "You sure you're okay?"
"Positive. Positive as sodium."
People. He would never understand people. Did *that* mean she wanted to bond? A Vulcan making a joke at a time like this? "You don't need any... um... anything from me?"
"Nothing. Why?" She threw him a narrow-eyed look that gradually widened in comprehension. "You thought I... oh, my *God,* Caesar!" As she slapped her hands against her blue-jeaned thighs in a convulsion of laughter the pile of garbage fell to the floor. "I must have scared the *hell* out of you! You little idiot! Firstly, Caesar, do you think I'd be in school today if that was going on? Secondly, I don't think *anyone* gets it this young. Thirdly, that cycle varies as much between individual people and instances as human menstruation. And fourthly, I was examined when I was *three and a half* and they could tell it was never going to happen to me. One reason why Mom and Dad never bonded me to anybody."
"But... I heard it... every seven years..."
"I *know* what Vulcans do every seven years. But I'm not all Vulcan, Caesar Goedel. My dad's a human. A human logic professor. Do you know what *humans* do every seven years?"
"Uh... nothing I can think of..." He could hardly think at all, dazed by what she just said. He hadn't known she was part human...
"Okay, then, do you know what humans are *supposed* to do every seven years? According to Leviticus 25:10? They set their slaves free. 'Then you shall send abroad the loud trumpet...and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all inhabitants...' " She gestured significantly toward the empty Species 6248 cage by the window.
"Do you know who *my* dad is?"
"A human. A human *religion* professor. And that thing about seven years is a *common* misapprehension. Release of the slaves is the *seventh* seventh year. Along with the return of all persons to the places they originally lived. Seventh is the *sabbatical* year. The year of rest. The land shall lie fallow, there shall be neither plowing nor sowing. Exodus 23:10. Also in Deuteronomy 15:12, 'If a slave is sold to you, he shall serve you six years, and in the seventh year you shall let him go free from you,' but with no specified years in which that would happen. Not applicable to this situation."
"Damn," said Barbara. "I feel like an idiot now. But no matter what made me do it, Caesar, I had to. As much as what a full Vulcan would've had to do." She turned and smiled suddenly. "So... If it's sabbatical year, how are we supposed to clean up after the party?"
"It applied only to agricultural labor. Pick up the trash, Barb."
"Cesare, Camestres, Festino, Baroco secundae"
Earthdate Friday, September 14 (lunchtime)
"I can't believe you're so happy. You just got not only prematurely flunked in biology, but also expelled from biology, in a time frame of ten minutes." The Nerd Table now included Caesar and Barbara as well as Tiffany, Sophie, Rachel and Melanie, and the six were sharing a delicacy Caesar had suggested be synthesized for the whole group.
"Ig, I never had plomeek soup before and I'm never having it again," said Barbara.
"I thought you were a Vulcan. I thought Vulcans liked plomeek soup." Sophie giggled.
"Premise," said Barbara, shoving a spoonful of the green liquid into her mouth with her nose clasped between her fingers. "Plomeek soup is a Vulcan food. Conclusion: All Vulcans like plomeek soup. I don't follow your logic there, Sophie. I can't figure out the fallacy, but there has to be one, 'cause I'm a counterexample. I'm also a counterexample if you use the same argument for humans and olives-'cause I hate 'em, and I'm just as Terran as Vulcan." She washed the soup down with a big mouthful of skim milk.
"So that's your other half," said Tiffany, swallowing a tiny drop of her own soup and grimacing. "Human. I had kind of guessed it."
"Yup. And I show it. Except I wasn't born with all the human illogic in my head, and I'm still a ways off from learning how to act like one." She glanced at Caesar and their eye contact told him she remembered their secret. "I guess I'm about the equivalent of a human nerd. And it's finally brought me to this table. You say this is Caesar's first time sitting with you, too?"
"You plan this out or something?" Barbara gave Tiffany a little cut-eye look.
Tiffany blushed. "Sorta."
"We noticed you guys liked each other by Monday," explained Melanie. "But neither of you was about to admit it."
"Caesar," said Barbara contemplatively, trying to change the subject. "Unusual name for a college kid in the twenty-third century."
"Barbara," Caesar retorted. "Unusual name for a Vulcan."
"Not if you've studied logic," said Barbara. "It's the name for a syllogism with both premises and the conclusion universal and affirmative. 'T'Vua' in my mother's language."
"Isn't the T-apostrophe the female name prefix?"
"Well, yeah. First and third figure valid syllogisms are considered sort of feminine."
"I thought Vulcan was too logical a language to have those dumb genders for nouns," said Rachel.
"Who said the languages were logical? They've been around longer than Surak."
"Why is the universal affirmative syllogism called Barbara?" queried Caesar.
" It has two A-type premises and an A-type conclusion." Sophie supplied the answer. "Three A's. Like the vowels in Barbara."
"Caesar is A, then E, then A," he mused. "Is that a valid syllogism?"
"Nope. E is a type of proposition-it's universal negative, 'no P are Q'-but with A's before it and after it, I don't think it's valid in any figure."
"But there's a variation on that name that is," said Barbara thoughtfully. "Cesare."
"Oh, yes, the mnemonic poem!" cried Melanie. "Barbara, Celarent, Darii..."
Sophie began to recite along with her, and Caesar held Barbara's hand
under the table as they listened to the two silly, illogical logic majors
singing the poem to a little tune they had made up together.
"Barbara, Celarent,Darii, Ferioque prioris,
Cesare, Camestres, Festino, Baroco secundae,
Tertia, Darapti, Disamis, Datisi, Felapton,
Bocardo Ferison habet, quarto insuper addit
Bramantip, Camenes, Dimari, Fesapo, Fresison!"
"Our song?" giggled Barbara.
"Maybe. What's Cesare in Vulcan?"
"Let me think... Cesare...EAE, figure 2... that would be Sunvuak."
"Would you call me Sunvuak from now on?"
"Sure. And you want to call me T'Vua?"
"Sometimes." He smiled at her. "But mostly I'll just call you Barbara."