I put another four hours of work into the shading! I had so much fun with this drawing! This is not really going to be one of Salen's talents (despite the story), I just wanted to draw some contortion and I wanted to draw Salen (my Vulcan OC). So here he is!
I will probably come back and redo the shading on his skin...it is not my best work.
I got the Vulcan sign from [link]
It was just about sunset and Pike was finishing cleaning up after dinner. Salen had seemed a little uneasy near the end of the meal so Pike told him to not worry about cleaning. Even after two years in Pike’s care Salen still sometimes had trouble with his anxiety levels. Dusk always seemed to be the worst time for the young Vulcan and tonight was no exception.
Finished with the kitchen Pike looked out onto the deck and was alarmed to see Salen in an odd position. He had bend himself backwards over the rail and was using the upright bars of the rail to stretch himself further.
Concerned Pike wheeled out onto the deck and pulled up next to where Salen was contorting over the rail. Salen noticed him and blushed, the fact that his head was upside down caused even more blood to rush to his cheeks and turn an even brighter green than normal. Pike was relieved to see that Salen was smiling.
"Salen...dare I ask what you're doing?"
"I don't really know." Salen admitted.
"Okay, how about 'why'?"
"Well, I was feeling a little nervous so I came out on the deck and I leaned against the rail. It felt good and calmed me to flex back...so I kept going."
“I wouldn’t even think that position was possible if I wasn’t looking at you doing it.”
“I was unaware that I was this flexible, it is not something I’ve tried before.
"Can you get back upright?"
Salen furrowed his slanted brow in thought. Pike chuckled as Salen attempted to right himself and failed. Blushing again Salen looked up at Pike and smiled sheepishly.
"I might need help...."
Pike shook his head sadly and reached out to help Salen back up right. Once up Salen took a deep breath and looked around. Pike could notice a visible difference in Salen’s anxiety level. Salen looked back at the rail that he had bent over and smiled.
“Was...was that something that I should not do?” Salen asked quietly.
“I don’t see any reason not to.”
“Is it a normal activity?”
“Uh, well, no, not really.” Pike admitted. “But if it helps you feel better then go for it...just make sure you don’t get stuck when I’m not around to help you.”
Over the next few weeks Salen became more involved in his new found contortion hobby. Pike thought it was a little unusual, but he was just happy that Salen had something to occupy his mind with. Several times Pike found him sleeping in a twisted shape. He had come to a point where he could lay down on his belly with a book tablet in front of him and press the contact button to change the page by bring his feet up over his shoulders.
About a month after Salen started his contortion meditation Pike had seen a big change in the Vulcan’s mood. He just appeared more relaxed and he didn’t jolt in fright as often. Salen was out on the deck practicing over the rail when Pike heard the communicator screen beeping. Going to the communicator he answered it.
“Spock,” Pike greeted warmly “what is going on?”
“It has been a year since I contacted Salen last, I am just ensuring that he is doing well.”
“The Vulcan Council put you up to this, didn’t they?”
“Yes.” Spock admitted.
“They still want Salen returned to Natala.” Pike sighed.
“The Ambassador was under the impression that Salen would only stay with you for several months, a year at most, and then he would wish to return to Natala. At the very least they expected him to visit.”
“If I’ve told the Ambassador once I’ve told him a thousand times: Salen does not want to visit Natala, he is terrified of the very idea. I mention anything to do with the Vulcans and he shakes, he literally trembles.”
“That is not logical, the Vulcans have not and would not harm him. If anything he should fear humans.”
“He does.” Pike sighed. “But I think he understands us better, he knows what to expect and what is expected of him. Among the Vulcans he’d be lost.”
“Very well, I will inform the Ambassador that Salen is doing well an continues to wish to live with you.”
“Thank you, Spock.” Pike smiled. “One thing, Spock, are Vulcans known for talents in contortion?”
“Contortion?” Spock repeated with a touch of concern. “Explain further.”
“About a month ago Salen tried bending backwards over the deck rail and made it fairly far. Since then he’s been developing the talent. It’s really amazing what he can do, this one day I found him spre...”
“Admiral,” Spock interrupted “you must discourage Salen from this practice. In fact it would be best if you forbid it completely.”
“Forbid it? Why? It seems to be helping with his stress.”
“What Salen is doing is reverting into deep Vulcan instincts, dangerous ones.”
“Is he going to hurt himself?”
“No, but I fear he may become increasingly aggressive.”
“Aggressive? Salen? You’ve got to be kidding.”
“Salen is performing Rack’bah, a ritual practiced by the most violent of Vulcan warriors. Contortion mediation was used just before battle to ensure strength, grace, and mental conditioning. Without training in modern Vulcan practice Salen is listening to his ancient blood.”
“No.” Pike shook his head. “This isn’t about violence, this is bringing him peace.”
“That peace will not last. Rack’bah is forbidden among Vulcans, the over stretch of joints and muscles releases hormones that increase aggression and blood lust.”
“I’ll keep an eye on him, but I’m not going to tell him that what he is doing is wrong.”
“I’ll let you know if we have any problems.”
Pike had ended the communication and had decided not to talk to Salen about the Rack’bah. He watched out for any signs of increased aggression, but as far as he could see the contortion was only aiding Salen in his adjustment to a normal life. Anytime he was feeling fearful he would spend a hour in a contorted pose and when he was done he was calm and smiling once again. Over the next few weeks Salen became far less withdrawn.
One evening after dinner Salen was pacing about the way he used to. Pike watched in concern as Salen began rubbing his arms. He looked on the verge of tears, and didn’t seem to know what to do about it. Pike kept waiting for him to assume a contorted pose to relax himself, but he didn’t. Sitting on the couch he crossed his legs, and then quickly uncrossed them.
Salen jerked violently and then blushed in embarrassment for having startled.
“Salen, why aren’t you practicing your contortion?”
“I...I...” Salen looked down at the floor. “I am not doing that anymore.”
“It...it is not...not normal.”
“Normal? There is nothing wrong with it, it is a lot like a sport or a ballet.”
“You cannot understand.”
Anytime Salen used the words ‘you cannot understand’ Pike knew that Salen meant that it was something to do with Vulcans. His sudden fear of contortion could only mean one thing.
“Spock spoke to you, didn’t he?”
Salen hesitated to answer, but eventually he just nodded.
“Salen, I don’t care what Spock says. This whole Rack’bah is ridiculous. The contortion helps you.”
“I must not continue.”
Before Pike could say anything more Salen got up from couch and disappeared into his room. Pike was so angry he could barely even think. He wheeled over to to the communicator and used his emergency code to reach the Enterprise before demanding to speak to Spock.
“Shut up, Spock.” Pike growled. “Do you have any idea how much damage you’ve done?!”
“I have not done damage I have prevented it. Salen’s participation in Rack’bah could not be allowed to continue.”
“Spock, I don’t tell you how to raise your son and I would appreciate it if you didn’t tell me how to raise mine!”
Over the next month Pike tried to convince Salen that there was nothing wrong with the contortion meditation. However the damage had been done. He wouldn’t talk about it, and once again he began to retreat into his own mind. It frustrated Pike that the one thing that had helped Salen do better was the one thing that the Vulcans decided to forbid.
It was early morning in the middle of the week when Pike heard the door bell. When he answered it he was surprised to find Spock standing outside. Suddenly distrustful of his intentions Pike did not invite him inside.
“Spock if you are here to take Salen I have news for yo...”
“I am not here to take your son.” Spock said quietly. “I am here to apologize for interfering.”
“It is too late, Spock. The damage is done.”
“I wish to try to fix that with a gift for Salen.”
Pike sighed and moved out of the way so that Spock could enter. Spock had a long silk bag on is back with a shoulder strap. Salen was currently on the deck staring out at the woods beyond. With his damaged hearing he had not heard the door bell. Pike and Spock went out onto the deck as well.
“Salen.” Spock called.
Salen turned around and pressed himself against the rail. His eyes had widened in fright and he instantly started breathing hard when he saw Spock.
“Easy, Salen.” Pike soothed.
“Salen, I wish to apologize for speaking to you about Rack’bah. I was merely concerned that you would perform this practice without any formal knowledge of it. I have spoken further with the Council and it has been determined that the legends of Rack’bah have been exaggerated. It was forbidden thousands of years ago, we are not the same people that we were back then.”
“So...so it is okay?”
“Yes, and I have a gift.”
Spock took the long shoulder bag off and gave it to Salen. He opened it and pulled out a large golden pole, about two feet long and five inches in diameter. It had rounded ends that held strong green ribbons attached. Salen looked at the gift with a confused expression.
“What is it?”
“It is a Rack’bah bar, or rather a reproduction of one. It is hung from a tree or ceiling like a swing and allows for freer practice of contortion. It will help you become a master of Rack’bah.”