Preface: I wrote this story a couple of years ago, but I’ve dragged it out to share with you fine folks. I wanted to tell some of the original myths that the sayings the Tamarians (from the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Darmok”) use come from. I couldn’t fit all of the sayings in the story, so there may be a sequel at some point, but for now: enjoy!
The Legend of Darmok and Jalad
Part One: To Tanagra
Darmok of Kanza and Jalad of the Kituay decided to go to Tanagra one day, for it was said to be the most beautiful island on the planet of Shantil Three. They set out on their quest on a bright, though cold, sunny morning, the blue sun shining on their bald heads. They knew that it would take several weeks to get to Tanagra, trekking though forest, desert and over an ocean, but they weren’t in any particular hurry.
As they dawdled along, Jalad sang a happy trekking song. Suddenly, Darmok shushed him, hearing something in the distance. Darmok and Jalad moved quietly toward the source of the sound. Through the trees, they saw a giant in a clearing. The giant was cowering against a cliff, shielding his face from a coven of crows who were flying around, trying to peck at his eyes. In the rocks of the cliff sat hundreds of nests, some carrying eggs, others with shrieking baby birds. As they examined the situation more deeply, Darmok and Jalad noticed that the hem of the giant’s tunic was stuck in a crevice in the cliff, so the crows believed their nests were in danger. Jalad glanced at Darmok and, with a silent nod, unsheathed his dagger and moved across the clearing as Darmok strode around the other side of the clearing, his own dagger in hand. They swiftly simultaneously attacked the giant’s tunic, cutting the fabric away from the face of the cliff. The giant stumbled away, waving his hands around his head to rid himself of the last of the crows. At the edge of the clearing, he slowly lowered his weary arms and blinked his eyes in the bright sunlight. Suddenly, he cried out, “Sokath, my eyes uncovered!” Finally, the giant, Sokath, lumbered into the trees, smiling, and Darmok and Jalad continued on their way to Tanagra.
The two intrepid travelers next came to a walled city under siege. The city called Shaka was under attack by the warlord Uzani. He was a crafty warlord who was notorious for his skills at strategy. As Uzani’s army marched on Shaka, warriors with large catapults hurled boulders at the city walls and pounded on the gates with log rams. As the large doors started to splinter, the warriors of Shaka ran out to meet the army, leaving the women, children and elderly inside the walls of the city. The warriors of Shaka were alone against their enemy, when suddenly fresh hordes of Uzani’s soldiers ran from the trees, encircling the poor warriors. Shaka’s warriors were slaughtered by Uzani’s strategy, which he titled “fists open and closed.” One of the fallen warriors, Kiazi, as he was losing consciousness from loss of blood, could hear his children’s cries from the city, and knew that their faces were wet with tears. Before the sun had moved far in the sky, the city walls started to crumble and teeter. Finally, with a loud crash, the walls failed and tumbled down one after another. “Shaka!” Uzani’s warriors shouted, “And the walls fell.” Darmok and Jalad skirted around the edge of the doomed city of Shaka, not wanting to attract the notice of the plundering warriors.
After several weeks of traveling, Darmok and Jalad finally reached an ocean. They looked at each other, puzzled about how to cross it. Suddenly, they heard a loud rumble. They turned around in time to find the giant Sokath crashing through the forest, crows at his eyes again. He had his head buried in his hands, crying out, “Sokath, my eyes closed!” as he scattered snapped trees in his wake. Darmok and Jalad looked at each other and shrugged, then set to dragging the snapped tree trunks to the beach and tied them together with vines. As the season was turning warm, Jalad volunteered his cloak to become a small sail. They placed their raft, which they named Mirab, in the ocean and were relieved to see that it floated. After three days of drinking rainwater and eating marine life that they caught, they saw a glimpse of land in the distance. Their hopes high, the two intrepid travelers paddled hard to reach Tanagra before sundown, for Darmok and Jalad were on the ocean, Tanagra was on the ocean, and soon Darmok and Jalad would be at Tanagra.
Part Two: At Tanagra
Tanagra was a lush island, filled with large foliage and fronds, as well as tiny annoying biting insects. As Darmok and Jalad explored Tanagra, they came to realize that there were few, if any, large animals on the island. There were birds and rodents aplenty, but nothing larger than the mythical Klingon targ. They found a small waterfall to camp near at dusk and settled down for the night. In the middle of the night, Darmok woke with a start, hearing a strange noise. He looked around, noticing that the second moon was rising in the east. He rolled over and started; Jalad was not there! Darmok noticed that there were scuff marks around the area where Jalad had been sleeping. It looked like he had been dragged away, leaving a broken dagger behind. Darmok sheathed Jalad’s dagger alongside his own and followed the tracks along the slow-moving river to a cave. As the sky lightened in the east, Darmok steeled himself and entered the cave.
The cave was a dark, musty, murky place. The light from the rising sun only penetrated a little ways into the cave, but Darmok had excellent night vision. As he slowly walked through the caverns, Darmok, though frightened, tried to slow his breathing and quiet his heart in order to listen for any sounds of Jalad. After what felt like an eternity, he finally heard soft scuffing coming from the cavern to his left. There lay Jalad, an oozing wound on his head. Darmok fell to his knees and cradled Jalad’s head in his lap. “The Beast at Tanagra,” Jalad whispered, and Darmok understood. There was a monster on this island, and it had found its next prey. Darmok hoisted Jalad up and swung his arm over his shoulder, supporting his friend as they started to slowly hobble towards the exit. Their spirits rose as they saw sunlight streaming through the entrance of the cave. Darmok thought he heard a stirring behind him, but was unsure over the sounds of their stumbling. The two partners made it back to the waterfall without incident.
Darmok lay his companion gently down on his bedroll. Jalad was barely conscious, his eyelids fluttering. Darmok tried to stop the flow of blood gushing from Jalad’s head, but it was too much too fast. Suddenly, Jalad’s eyes flew open! “The Beast at Tanagra!” he cried out. Darmok instinctively ducked and rolled to one side. He felt the breeze as something just missed the back of his neck. He whirled and saw the Beast. It was monstrous: taller than Darmok by at least three heads and over twice as wide. Along with its six-inch knife-like claws on all four fingers on each hand and a maw-full of razor-sharp teeth, it also had spiked horns covering its head. Darmok noticed that some of the horns already had white blood on them. Jalad’s blood. The Beast lunged again and Darmok dove for the river. He plunged into the cold water and surfaced, gasping. The Beast was striding powerfully into the river after him. Darmok wanted to keep the Beast as far away from Jalad as he could. He felt around as he made his way to the far bank and came up with some small stones. Clutching his dagger in one hand, Darmok threw the stones with all of his strength, hitting the Beast in the chest, but the Beast did not seem to notice. As the Beast neared, it lunged for a third time. Darmok swung his dagger and struck the horns on the Beasts head. The Beast lurched, knocking Darmok’s dagger from his hand. Darmok grasped Jalad’s broken dagger with his last hopes. He plunged the shattered blade towards the Beast and embedded it deeply in the Beast’s eye. The Beast howled and clambered down the river, leaving Darmok to struggle back across the river to Jalad. He looked down into Jalad’s eyes, but saw that his friend was gone.
Part Three: After Tanagra
Knowing that the Beast was still alive on the island, wounded and angry, Darmok rushed to leave Tanagra. He refused to leave Jalad’s body there where the Beast could get to it, so he lay Jalad on his own cloak and dragged him to the coast. He placed Jalad on the raft Mirab and cast off. Darmok left Tanagra with sails unfurled, fleeing from the Beast and the horrors that occurred there. He buried Jalad at sea, keeping only his spirit talismans. Darmok fell asleep on Mirab and dreamed. He dreamed of a desert-like land, hot with scraggly trees. There was a Tamarian there, along with a bald man with oddly smooth pink skin. He heard the bald man speak of creatures called Gilgamesh and Enkidu at Uruk. Though Darmok did not know this metaphor, he found the bald man’s story soothing. It helped to ease his troubled mind and he dreamed more easily, for Darmok was alone on the ocean, floating through the night.