Prologue: A Kind of Magic
One dream, one soul, one prize, one goal
One golden glance of what should be...
It's a kind of magic.
Amanda knew magic happened – though it was difficult to predict where or how or when. But at the age of twelve she intuitively recognised that before any enchantment began there were certain identifying signals - the air grew still, time froze while the Universe held its breath - and in that glorious instant between one inhalation and the next - things changed forever.
Travelling in the back of her father’s plush imported Bentley antigrav fastback on the way to a piano lesson at the private and very prestigious Pacific Heights Music Academy, she had looked up in surprise when Thomas, her father’s driver, and Amanda’s closest friend, suddenly exclaimed, “Well look at that….”
Beneath the round brim of a blue school hat perched impudently on the back of her head, wisps of curly auburn hair glowed where it escaped the silk rope of her braid. The azure ribbon tied up in a bow at the end of each plait exactly matched her eyes. Small for her age, but sturdy, the new tailored uniform jacket sat awkwardly large across her wiry shoulders. As Thomas slowed the vehicle and the window whirred down, Amanda obligingly leaned forward chin resting on the back of white, lace-gloved fingers as she clasped the seat in front. Her interested gaze followed that of the driver to the commotion ahead.
A substantial earthquake in 2025 had destroyed much of San Francisco for the second time. Despite the damage, extensive reconstruction in recent years had restored much of the charm of an earlier age. The renowned Golden Gate Bridge again spanned the bay, trams and streetcars ran up and down California and Hyde Street – a magnet for tourists from half a dozen worlds. Even Ghiradelli’s Chocolate Company had re-established premises in Ghiradelli Square.
“What is it, Thomas? What’s happening?”
A cluster of people, mostly Terrans but with at least two Centaurans and an Andorian quad, were gathered outside the open gates of an ornate Victorian mansion. One of San Francisco’s ‘painted ladies’, a gaudy gingerbread confection of russet walls and white stucco, the stately beauty surveyed all before her with dignified indifference.
“The Vulcans are moving in by the looks of it.” He pulled up opposite the Consulate and let the fastback settle. On the other side of the street, a plain but official looking carrier hunched with its rear doors flung wide. Workers in drab brown one-piece coveralls were hurrying to and fro unloading curiously shaped objects and pieces of strange furnishings.
Amanda leaned further out the window, gawping as her father would have put it, through the Consulate’s gates with wide-eyed curiosity. Through the grand entrance to the mansion she had a magnificent view of the bay far below, the blue water glinting in the fickle morning sunshine. Despite the changeable weather, there clearly came the sound of parrots calling to one another from the trees lining the road and further away the sweet, muted clang-clang of a cable car in the next street.
As she watched, a gaggle of small children, chaperoned by two adult females, decanted from another parked transport and walked demurely up the drive, possibly on their way to school as she was, Amanda decided. They were Vulcan children and Vulcan women - bundled up in what seemed layers and layers of thick clothing, wide trousers and long skirts – all beneath somber hooded robes, the material swirling about booted ankles in the breeze off the bay.
Dressed in equally concealing attire, another Vulcan, taller than the women by an inch or so, and broader at the shoulder, came out of the residence apparently to greet them. He descended the broad sweeping steps that led into the garden, posture elegantly erect and his stride purposeful.
But the breeze wanted to play. It teased the garden foliage, dragged at the high gate and the doors of the carrier, caught mischievously at the newcomer’s generous sleeves and ample hood.
And that’s when it happened…
The breeze flipped the concealing material back from the Vulcan man’s shoulders and revealed his profile. A wan shaft of sunshine struck his dark hair. The light gleamed, emphasizing the short unruly locks that curled forward onto his brow.
The noise of the city faded. The world stilled. Even in a crowd, he held a compelling presence. An air of isolation shrouded his tall figure more than the cloak he wore. Amanda’s focus narrowed on his alien features, on the ears that tapered gracefully at the tip. They were the ears of a faerie prince, a warrior elf from perilous realms, exotic and mysterious. He had sallow skin that spoke of strange, much warmer climes and his taut lips were generous beneath an aquiline nose. Not at all a kind face, it demanded all her attention and she could not look away.
And evidently responsive to her surveillance, his head turned in her direction. For one, long searching moment, his glance met hers, his look intense but enigmatic. Strong black brows like upswept raven’s wings knitted together in a sudden frown. Amanda saw his lips constrict, not in anger she realised but in a shock that mirrored her own.
A dazzled fawn in the headlights of a speeding automobile, Amanda remained mesmerized - until Thomas activated the antigrav and shattered the rapture that held her spellbound. As the fastback manoeuvred into the on-coming traffic, the Vulcan tugged his recalcitrant hood back over his head, concealing his features once more. Amanda only glimpsed that tantalizing face for a moment, but she never forgot it.
It was the first time she remembered seeing Sarek s’kahri, ansh’oine t’skon kah T’Pra and the world changed forever, shaped by magic.