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"Katras in the Round" - Personal Log, SD 201802.24
Lt. Cmdr. Relok
. Relok stared at the empty sphere, identical to all the rest except for one critical element. All of the others contained some sort of life essence, extremely similar to what Vulcans called their "katra". This one was empty.
. Among his people, the Vulcans of the high-altitude cloud forests of the Southern Continent, special members of the community were granted the right to preserve their katras in specially-prepared katric arks. In that part of the world, these were usually large obsidian crystals that were encased in woven baskets that were sometimes elaborate sculptures resembling a human head or full bust. Complex rituals were performed around a type of mind-meld with the glass that allowed a dying Vulcan to transfer his memories, knowledge, and experience into the crystalline structure of the glass in a form of synaptic enpatternment. These arks were kept in a sanctified place with many others collected over centuries or even millennia, and on rare occasions, supplicants were permitted a mind-meld with specific arks in order to commune with the ancestral spirits to seek their knowledge and insight.
. But these spheres were not katric arks, though they bore some resemblance. The hard outer shell had resisted most scans and Relok was struggling to suppress his frustration at determining the make-up of the interior of the shells. He suspected there was some kind of crystalline structure, perhaps at the molecular level, that could retain the synaptic patterns of the life forms held within, but he was powerless to confirm his suspicions.
. The katric arks used by Vulcans were carefully chosen or crafted with complex crystalline structures to ensure the stability of the katras held within them. Katras preserved in this fashion have been known to hold strong for thousands of years, but Relok suspected these spheres could not retain the life essences within them for longer than a few months, if that.
. But lacking the techniques of a Vulcan mind-meld, how did these life essences get into these spheres? And short of the rare ritual of fal-tor-pan, the re-fusion ceremony known only to certain high-ranking Vulcan priests (his mother probably knew it, but she was many light-years away), how could they be extracted? And where would the katra be placed without a body to fuse them with? Where were their bodies? Who were these people? He knew they were people based on the emotions he could sense from the spheres.
. And what sort of weapon uses life essences as ammunition? Or – he barely suppressed a shudder – was the weapon extracting the essence from its victims? What people would even imagine developing a weapon with that capability?
. With a sense of dread, he knew that to fully understand this strange weapon recovered from the crashed Orion freighter, he would have to use it, either depleting the life essence from one of these spheres, or draining the life essence from a living victim and imprisoning it within the empty sphere. He could not know how the weapon worked until he observed it in use. All else was purely speculation.
. He touched one of the filled spheres, feeling the sudden rush of emotions – pain, anger, sadness, loss – he thought to himself, ~If there is a way, I will free you from your prison.~