They began with a ritual washing of her head, intended not only to sterilize the skin and prepare it for the taking of ink, but also remind her of the necessity of a clean soul, a clean katra. She felt each of the three hundred sixty prescribed strokes of the smooth grey pumice stone as it circled her shaven skull, and the gentle rhythmic brushing helped her attain the proper state of meditation. Though one small part of Saraiís elaborate and sophisticated Vulcan mind counted each of those gestures one by one, she nevertheless felt herself slipping back into reverie, and she thought to herself, ďHow did I come to this place? This moment?Ē
She had been a difficult daughter, rebelling against traditional parents. They had raised her properly, sparing no pain or harsh truth, but instead of the stoic demeanor that was the hallmark of all mature Vulcans, Sarai had retreated into lonely physical pursuits. Instead of mastering logic, she spent her days scampering up the intimidating cliffs near her home. Like an insect she found tiny cracks for her fingers and toes, and when she returned after three days, bruised and hungry but triumphant, her smile beaming from her dusty face, her parents knew that she had left the path of wisdom.
When the Vulcan Science Academy refused to assist the Romulans, contributing to the Hobus disaster, Sarai had been seven years old. She had joined the protests of men and women much older and more articulate than she, voices who suggested that the Vulcan people had lost their way. None denied the role of logic in the governance of wild emotion, but if the decision to refuse aid was a logical one, then logic had caused the death of billions of lives. And if the decision was not logical, then the authority of the Science Academy was in doubt. When they saw their daughter chanting slogans in sympathy for the Romulan people, Saraiís parents knew they had failed. She was sent to the SuíLan Monastery, where it was thought she would at least find peace and, if she was lucky, eventually contribute to society.
And so she had, for the wrinkled masters of SuíLan had long held dear principles to which Saraiís rebellious heart cleaved. Here she came to understand logic had its perils, no less dangerous than those of emotion, and these two poles stood to the right and the left of each Vulcan pilgrim on the long and difficult journey through life. To navigate between those two dangers was to walk the narrow and perilous Path of the Razor, and this was the philosophy which would guide Sarai for the rest of her waking life, till her katra shed the gross impurities of flesh and was housed forever in the stone caskets of her forebears.
For fourteen years now she had walked the Path of the Razor, learning to balance logic and emotion. Along the way she had strayed many times and even fallen, but always her sisters and the ancient masters had been there to help her, until in time she came to be the one who gave help and succor to others. No longer was she the wanderer; now she was a mentor, and in the eyes of the masters a new light of recognition and pride could be seen. She was ready. It was time for her to go.
All of that had led her to this moment, and to the careful inscription of her bindi, her soul-mark, on the sacred qui'lari, the neural pathway which lay between her eyes. Carefully she knit the physiology of her mind to her will, increasing her heart rate to keep her body cool and numbing the pain receptors in her forehead where the long needles, pregnant with ink, pierced her skin. The ritual mark, emerald green in the firelight and elegant in its complexity, marked her as a pilgrim on the Path of the Razor, a Vulcan woman who balanced logic and emotion in a careful dance. The idea made her smile. She had always loved to dance.