Star Trek: Bounty - 3 - "The Other Kind of Vulcan Hello"

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by BountyTrek, Nov 11, 2021.

  1. BountyTrek

    BountyTrek Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 23, 2021
    Hello again :)

    The third story from this little corner of the fan fiction universe is (hopefully) ready to be released to the world. It might be published a little slower than the first two parts as I'm still making a final tweak or two to the final parts, but I'm getting started to give me a reason to get it all finished.

    Once again, thanks in advance for stopping by and reading, and I hope you get some enjoyment from it. :)

    Star Trek: Bounty is a slightly off-kilter series set in the Trek universe that focuses on the adventures of the ragtag crew of a small civilian ship, who do what they can to get by in the Alpha Quadrant. They're not exactly Starfleet spec, but they try to keep on the right side of the moral line where they can.

    The story, such that it is, so far:
    Star Trek: Bounty - 1 - "Where Neither Moth nor Rust Destroys"
    Star Trek: Bounty - 2 - "Be All My Sins Forgiven"


    Star Trek: Bounty
    "The Other Kind of Vulcan Hello"


    S'Lara region, Planet Vulcan.
    Stardate 12475.9


    He was agitated. Of that, there was absolutely no doubt. Based on all of the evidence on the subject he had been able to gather after hours of researching, having cross-referenced multiple historical accounts and countless medical studies from across the galaxy and compared them to his current situation, that was clearly the appropriate term for his current state of mind.

    And yet, he wasn't supposed to be agitated. The concept of agitation was, quite literally by definition, a purely emotional feeling. And emotions were not logical. Ergo, he was currently being deeply illogical. And that inescapable truism simply served to make him more agitated.

    He sat at the metal desk of his study in front of the bank of screens displaying the details of his research and steepled his fingers in front of him, trying to focus. Focus on anything other than his current state of illogical agitation.

    This wasn't how he should have been spending his afternoon. He had been intending to review T'Plana-Hath's seminal work 'Ascent From Chaos' as part of his ongoing studies. But as soon as he had begun to read, he had found himself completely unable to concentrate. Yet again.

    He knew that both of his parents had worked especially hard to prepare him for the rigours of Kolinahr training. And that this sort of flagrantly emotional display was not what they had worked so hard for. Not that his parents hadn't wanted to put in that work. After all, becoming a Kolinahr graduate was the highest achievement a Vulcan could attain, so it was entirely logical that his parents saw this as the appropriate path in life for their only son.

    Still, they had sacrificed a lot in order to get him this far down the road to attaining complete mental discipline and he deeply respected them for that. Which meant that his ongoing failure to back up their years of hard work and sacrifice with any real tangible progress in his studies merely exacerbated the distinct emotional issues that had been plaguing him.

    And as his internal struggles continued, his agitation transformed into something else. Something that he remembered from one of his earlier episodes.

    He was annoyed.

    Annoyed that he was getting so distracted from his studies, annoyed that he was having to waste yet another afternoon on such aberrations, and annoyed because he knew that he could ill afford such a wasted afternoon when he was already lagging behind his peers in the training programme.

    But most of all, he was annoyed because he was getting annoyed. Which was a completely illogical circular argument. And that made him even more annoyed.

    He suppressed a sigh and got up from his desk, gliding silently across the room in his plain white robes to the window on the far wall.

    Looking out, he could see the dusty streets of the S'Laran township that they called home. He saw groups of figures walking along in the rust-coloured light, all in their usual orderly formations. Very efficient, very logical, very calming.

    Except, not so calming. Because today, something about those perfectly methodical movements struck him as being a little too logical. Was it really necessary, he wondered, for his people to take their dispassionate approach to life and even apply it to the concept of pedestrian behaviour?

    Great, he thought to himself, now I'm irritated.

    First agitation, then annoyance, now irritation. The worst part of it was, they weren't even basic emotions. No simple, beginner level feelings here, these were considerably more nuanced and complicated than all that.

    He remained next to the window, feeling the late afternoon sun on his face, and closed his eyes, deciding to switch his attempts to focus onto the matter of gentle meditation. He followed a well practiced technique that he had first been taught as a young child by his mother, just as all Vulcan children were. Many times during his difficult developmental years he had been able to quell any pesky emotional feelings by following this tried and tested method.

    In his mind, he was onboard an ancient sailing ship in the middle of the Voroth Sea. The air was calm, the great white sails were at rest against the wooden masts. Around the narrow, weather-worn hull, the sea was as smooth as Tholian silk, and as clear as a mirror.

    He stood on the deck of the ship, his feet slightly apart and angled outwards, with his arms stretched out to his sides. Perfectly balanced and perfectly in tune with the stillness of the scene. In harmony with the sea, and at one with his surroundings.

    Except, he couldn't help but think as he took a deep meditative breath, since his mother had taught him this technique all those years ago, he had actually been to the Voroth Sea, on a scientific field trip as part of his studies. Harsh winds constantly whipped up across the expanse of the water thanks to the air passing over the surrounding mountains. The sea's surface itself was a whirling, writhing tumult all year round, the water a dirty red colour from the silt churned up from the sea bed.

    Presenting a meditative vision of the Voroth Sea that supposed a becalmed, windless expanse of crystal clear water was simply...not logical.

    His irritation gave way to outright exasperation as he opened his eyes. Even the most basic piece of meditation was providing him with no solace.

    Behind him, he heard the door to his study open and gentle footsteps enter. He didn't turn around, but he felt his father's presence as he approached.

    "It is acceptable to talk with you now?" his father asked in his usual clipped, deliberate tone.

    He looked over to the grey haired Vulcan, who stood with his hands gently clasped together in front of his chest, and nodded. His father didn't meet his look, and instead turned his attention to the vacant desk on the other side of the room.

    "Your studies are complete for today."

    A statement, not a question. He paused before answering, doing his best to force whichever emotion was dominating his thoughts at this precise moment to the back of his mind.

    "No, father," he replied truthfully, "I was just...contemplating what I had read."

    His father nodded thoughtfully, returning his attention to the view out of the window.

    "There is a lot to contemplate in her words," the reply came, referring to T'Plana-Hath's work that he was supposed to have been reading, "It is necessary to ensure you fully understand them before you move on."

    He didn't reply, and instead followed his father's gaze back to the scene outside the window, the slowly setting sun casting long shadows over the ground as the pedestrians below continued their carefully considered walks.

    There was a moment of silence, which he found excruciating, before his father continued. "Your mother and I have been talking about your studies. Your instructors remain convinced that your progress has still not been sufficient."

    At this, he instinctively snapped his head around to stare at his father. It was enough of a reaction for the older Vulcan to raise a curious eyebrow.

    "I am not--!"

    He immediately realised that he had spoken too quickly. His voice betrayed clear feelings that he was sure his father would pick up on. He controlled himself before he continued.

    "I will try harder, father."

    His father's eyebrow remained cocked at this reply. "To not already be trying one's hardest to attain one's goals is not logical."

    He did all he could not to allow the fresh flare of frustration he felt to show on his face at his father's dispassionate observation.

    "Regardless," his father continued, "We have considered the matter in detail, and we believe the only correct course of action is to remove you from the Kolinahr programme."

    Once again, there was no hiding his flash of annoyance.

    "Wh--? But why?"

    He mentally flinched as he heard the tone of his voice. He momentarily closed his eyes and tried to picture the sailing ship on the fictional serenity of the Voroth Sea again. But it was no use. A storm was blowing in.

    His father calmly gestured to him, indicating the emotional state that was increasingly clear on his face and in his actions. "The reasons are obvious. It would not be appropriate for one still struggling with such basic irrationality to proceed any further in the programme. Your instructors tend to agree with this assessment and--"

    "No," he persisted, as calmly as he could manage, "I am making progress, father. And I assure you that I control."

    His father considered this, then walked over to the desk, where the screens still displayed his earlier research. All carefully compiled, referenced and ready to betray him.

    "Agitation is a feeling of aggravation or restlessness," his father read directly from the screen, "Often brought on by little to no provocation."

    He felt a rush of shame as his father turned back to him. Another emotion that he was becoming increasingly used to. He closed his eyes again. The storm front had reached the ship, the sails flapping helplessly in the tumult.

    "Father," he began, "I can explain--"

    "I do not recall this particular teaching from T'Plana-Hath," his father continued, ignoring any effort he was going to make to explain away this latest humiliation.

    "What shall I do?" he managed eventually, "Tell me, how can I satisfy my instructors? And you, and mother?"

    His father stared back at him in silence for a moment, keeping his hands calmly clasped in front of him. In truth, he needed no time to contemplate his son's questions. He already knew the only logical answer.

    "We all believe it would serve you well to undergo another session with Doctor Sevik--"


    He screamed out before he had a chance to stop himself. It had been an instinctive reaction upon hearing the doctor's name. Even that was enough to send a coruscating flood of new emotions through his mind. Panic, fear, worry, angst. Ironic, he couldn't help but admit, given what the doctor would be doing to him.

    The storm raged across the sea. The main mast began to creak.

    Several years ago, when his emotional issues had first become a serious and uncontrollable problem in the eyes of his parents, they had sent him to Doctor Sevik for the first time. He was a practitioner of a supposedly ancient practice of emotional purging via mind melds. The idea went that the calmer and more focused thoughts of a more centred Vulcan would help to flush out the emotional strife of the patient.

    Except, while it might have served that function for a time, and brought an element of calm and logic to his thoughts once again, he also remembered the other effects it had on him. The pain, the confusion and the mental agony. The physical spasms that had lasted for many weeks after the treatment was supposedly complete. He didn't want to have to go through any of that ever again.

    And yet, his irrational and instinctive reaction to the doctor's name and the memories of the things he wished to avoid had already sealed his fate.

    "Yes," his father noted after seeing his son's moment of frenzy, "It appears that we should contact him at once."

    The grey haired Vulcan calmly walked out of the room, leaving him alone again.

    Alone, but for the feelings that still swirled around inside him, where one particular emotion was now coming to dominate. One that he felt more strongly than anything he had ever felt before.

    Except this wasn't agitation, or frustration, or shame, or fear. This time, he felt something different. Yet oddly comforting. An emotion that he had read about in his studies, but never really experienced before.

    Until now.

    He closed his eyes. The storm had become a hurricane.

    He felt angry.
    tax1234, CeJay, Hawku and 1 other person like this.
  2. Robert Bruce Scott

    Robert Bruce Scott Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jun 18, 2021
    Very nice - a vulcan with emotional problems. I've read a number of fanfics taking a deep dive into the illogical vulcan psyche and they are invariably delightful. This one seems to point to a basic incoherence in the design of vulcan characters (and a relentless trope throughout literature) - in short - that's just not the way logic works.

    Emotions like anxiety, aggravation and irritation are all pointers that should alert you that you are overlooking something important. The disciplined mind doesn't try to suppress these emotions, but to seek out the critical information these emotions are trying to alert you to.

    You're definitely onto a rich vein. Thanks!! rbs
    BountyTrek likes this.
  3. BountyTrek

    BountyTrek Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 23, 2021
    Thanks for the comment! :)

    I'm afraid that this won't quite be the deep dive into Vulcan lore you might be expecting. As the previous Bounty escapades might have suggested, I tend to just find jumping off points for a silly sci-fi adventure. :hugegrin:
  4. BountyTrek

    BountyTrek Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 23, 2021
    Part One

    Planet Redrax, neutral space
    Present day


    Sunek wasn’t like most other Vulcans. He’d known that for a long time. But as he allowed himself a moment of indulgence to look back at the life that he’d led, he was also okay with that. Because he had never really wanted to be like other Vulcans. And right now, as he listened to the countdown heading towards its inevitable conclusion, that fact continued to bring him comfort.

    From a young age, he’d felt that he was different. Plenty of young Vulcans have emotional moments. The goal of his species was to control and master their emotions, after all, they had never claimed to have eradicated them.

    During his formative years, that was exactly what Sunek had done. He’d worked to contain his emotions, tried to keep them in check. Even, through a combination of peer pressure and a period of unseasonably high self-confidence, briefly been part of the Kolinahr training programme.

    Very briefly.


    But none of that had worked. His parents had run out of options for how to help their son and his troublesome feelings. And then Sunek had discovered the V’tosh ka’tur. The Vulcans without logic.

    To call it an organisation would be far too grandiose a term. It was barely even anything, a loosely defined collective of Vulcans throughout his people’s history who chose to embrace and cultivate their emotions, rather than look to suppress them.

    Originally, many centuries ago, the group had sought to find a true balance between logic and emotion. But in the present day, the already loose ties of the V’tosh ka’tur had splintered even further, their beliefs and their ambitions fragmenting as time went on. And Sunek happened to have found a particularly anarchic chapter during his time studying at the ShiKahr Learning Institute. A group of free thinking Vulcans who wanted nothing more than to explore and embrace their emotions as much as possible.

    Sunek had fitted right in.


    More than that, he had flourished. His confidence grew immeasurably as he realised that the part of him he had been taught to fight against all this time wasn’t an affliction. It was a strength. He left Vulcan behind under a cloud of familial disapproval and headed out into the cosmos to start really living his life. A process which had taken him all over the galaxy and back again, and eventually brought him here.

    To the end of the countdown.


    He took a deep breath, and along with the four other figures around the table, picked up the small glass of lurid orange-tinged liquid and slammed it down.

    Five empty glasses thudded back onto the table, as the crew of the Bounty flinched in unison.

    They had arrived on Redrax earlier that day, ostensibly to attend a sector-wide trade fair from which they hoped to find a spot of gainful employment. But thanks to Sunek, they had first decided to pay a visit to a bar called the Pride of Andor. A bar that every one of his contacts the length and breadth of the quadrant had told him was the best hangout on all of Redrax. Or at least, the best one that didn’t have a dress code.

    And here they had stayed. For drink after terrible drink.

    “Ugh,” Denella, the Bounty’s Orion engineer, winced, as she wagged a finger at the empty glass in front of her, “That’s...that one was the worst yet.”

    “Yep,” Sunek grimaced, absently scratching the unruly mop of hair on top of his head, “That really smarts.”

    “Feeling the heat, Sunek?” Jirel, the unjoined Trill captain of the Bounty, grinned at him from the other side of the table, “You’re always welcome to back out.”

    Sunek matched Jirel’s grin, despite the residual pain from the alcohol in his stomach. “Never!” he replied with a dramatic flourish, “It’s just Rigellian brandy reacts badly with the Vulcan metabolism. If you ask me, that whole last round was a cheat.”

    “I do not think it reacts well with anyone’s metabolism,” the booming voice of Klath, the disgraced Klingon who made up the Bounty’s crew, sounded out unhappily.

    Sunek paused as he looked over at Klath. There was still a mild amount of distance between them since their recent run in with a vengeful Klingon named Kolar. During which Sunek had discovered the full details behind his crewmate’s discommendation from the empire, after a ship he commanded had attacked and destroyed an unarmed freighter during the Klingon Civil War.

    He had repeatedly made it clear to Klath that he wasn’t interested in gossiping about his secrets with anyone else, but he suspected that the Klingon didn’t entirely believe him, hence the awkward distance.

    Still, Sunek could hardly blame him for not believing him. Part of his reputation since he had fully embraced his emotional side revolved around his big mouth. He had a distinct inability to stop talking, regardless of the situation.

    Because Sunek was a talker. More than that, he was a joker. It wasn’t a reputation he especially hated. Nor was his reputation as the Bounty’s resident drinker in chief. Which snapped him back to their current situation.

    “Still,” he went on, keeping his trademark grin beaming wide, “The good news is that it’s my round.”

    He gestured amiably to a passing Andorian waitress, who uncertainly teetered over to him in a pair of gratuitously uncomfortably heels which by all accounts represented a vital component of the staff uniform at the Pride of Andor.

    “Five Ferengi stardusters. No ice.”

    The waitress, already hoping she was in line for a big enough tip to justify the amount of time she had spent carrying trays of drinks to this particular table in these particular shoes during her shift so far, nodded demurely and awkwardly tip-toed away.

    “I do not care for that drink either,” Klath growled, “We should order a good bloodwine.”

    “You drink too much of that stuff as it is,” Denella said admonishingly, “You’re becoming a walking cliche.”

    “Watch out,” Jirel chimed in, “If you keep goading him like that, we’ll end up hearing the story about how he once shared a bottle of the 2309 with Martok himself. Again.”

    “That did happen,” Klath muttered, folding his arms in front of him in something approximating a pout.

    Sunek couldn’t help but chuckle along with the others. The sound of laughter energised him in a way he couldn’t explain. Having spent so much of his formative years being told to repress or be ashamed of such outbursts, the feeling of unencumbered laughter and joy was like a drug to him.

    Probably why I tell so many bad jokes, he mused to himself.

    As the blue-skinned waitress returned and set down five glasses filled with a gaudy pink liquid and topped off with neon straws, which earned a look of disgust from Klath, the fifth member of the group finally piped up.

    Natasha Kinsen was still a mystery to Sunek. A former Starfleet doctor who they had rescued almost by accident while on a salvage mission for one of Jirel’s contacts. And now, for reasons that Sunek was not privy to, and frankly wasn’t all that interested in, she had left Starfleet behind to join them. Right now, given the groggy look on her face, it seemed as though she might be regretting it.

    “Hey,” she managed, slurring her words slightly, “I don’t wanna spoil all the fun, but what happened to the trade fair?”

    “How do you mean?” Jirel asked, the lion’s share of his focus now intently on trying to balance a damp beermat on its edge.

    “I mean, when are we getting there? What’s our strategy?”

    Jirel tutted as the mat fell back onto the table, before glancing around at the others and smiling knowingly. “Newbie over here doesn’t know about the pecking order.”

    “Don’t patronise me,” the human woman shot back with as pointed a glare as she could manage in her current state of inebriation, before looking a tad confused, “Also, what pecking order?”

    “We have to wait our turn at these things,” Jirel explained as he lined up the beer mat for another attempt, “Right now, the big jobs are getting pitched. Long-term deals, exclusive supply runs, mining contracts, that sort of thing.”

    “They’ll go to the big conglomerates,” Denella said, picking up the story as Jirel made a sad tutting sound to accompany the sight of the mat toppling over again, “Or Ferengi merchants with very deep pockets. Then the medium sized stuff gets thrown around. Not super high value stuff, but the kind of thing you still need a decent fleet of shuttles for. Again, way out of our league.”

    “Ok,” Natasha nodded, slowly processing this through her booze-soaked brain, “And then?”

    “Bandits,” Klath stated simply, “They take their pick of the more...disreputable jobs on offer.”

    “Really best we don’t get involved at that point,” Jirel added, as he stuck his tongue out in a farcical display of concentration in the beermat game.

    “Right,” Natasha replied with a sigh, “So, we get…?”

    “Whatever’s left,” Sunek chimed in, as he slurped a generous mouthful of Ferengi starduster through his straw.

    Now it definitely looked like she was regretting joining them. It didn’t happen often, and maybe it was the drink talking, but Sunek couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for her.

    “Hey doc,” he continued, trying to put on his most convincing sympathetic tone, “Relax. These things always…”

    And then he forgot all about being sympathetic. Because, over the somewhat inebriated doctor’s shoulder, he saw her walk in.

    “Well, I’ll be the son of a Tal-Shanar minister…”

    Before anyone had the chance to ask him what the hell that meant, he stood up out of his seat and bellowed across the Pride of Andor, ignoring the annoyed looks his actions generated from several of the bar’s other patrons. Not to mention from a number of precariously balanced waitresses.

    “Hey! Hey! T’Len! Over here!”

    The others at the table turned to see a Vulcan woman on the other side of the bar turn and look over in the direction of Sunek’s voice. She immediately recognised him and began to walk over. She wore her jet black hair tied up in a ponytail, revealing pointed ears either side of her porcelain face, and she was clad in a simple blue dress.

    She was also smiling broadly.

    As she reached the table, and the other four members of the Bounty’s crew mentally asked themselves who the mysterious smiling stranger might be, the two Vulcans embraced in a warm, lengthy hug.

    Sunek eventually broke the hug and turned to his confused crewmates, his grin now wider than it had ever been.

    “Guys, you’re not gonna believe it,” he said gleefully, “My wife’s in town!”

    The four seated figures froze in shock. Several moments passed without anyone saying anything. It was safe to say that none of the others had been expecting him to say that.

    “Curious,” T’Len said, with an amused smile of her own, “Your shipmates appear to be trapped in some sort of temporal anomaly.”

    Sunek just tutted. He knew they were going to embarrass him.
  5. Robert Bruce Scott

    Robert Bruce Scott Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jun 18, 2021
    Looks like a deep dive to me - in an Andorian dive... Quite amused by andorian waitresses in heels. Also enjoying the klingon - looks like you've put together a crew of misfits.

    Thanks!! rbs
    BountyTrek likes this.
  6. BountyTrek

    BountyTrek Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 23, 2021
    Part One (Cont'd)

    It took another round of Ferengi stardusters for the Bounty’s crew to finally break free of the temporal anomaly.

    And after the following round of Maparian ales with Andorian whiskey chasers, they were almost used to the idea that T’Len was indeed Sunek’s wife. At least, as much as anyone could get used to that idea.

    “You know,” T’Len observed as the still-suffering Andorian waitress dropped off another round of drinks, “I am beginning to suspect that Sunek never told any of you about me.”

    “He did not,” Klath stated flatly, still eyeing the newcomer uncertainly and recalling something that the Bounty’s pilot had recently said to him about skeletons in closets.

    “Guys, come on,” Sunek managed, slightly awkwardly, “There’s not much to tell.”

    Although he was delighted to see T’Len, he wasn’t entirely overjoyed with the idea of revealing too many personal details to the others. He was here to crack jokes, not bare his soul, after all.

    “You’re a member of the V’tosh ka’tur as well?” Natasha managed.

    “Yes,” she nodded, “I realise that me having been here for more than ten minutes without once being condescending towards you rather gives it away.”

    Her mouth curled into a smile at her own joke. Something that Natasha still couldn’t help but find mildly disconcerting coming from a Vulcan.

    “So,” Klath muttered, “She is another member of your cult.”

    “Not a cult, Klath,” Sunek said with a wag of his finger, “We’re just a few friendly Vulcans who prefer expressing our emotions freely, rather than bottling them up behind social norms.”

    “Hippies,” Natasha murmured.

    The others turned to the doctor, who flushed slightly when she realised she’d been speaking out loud, and had now become the focus of everyone’s attention, before forcing herself to continue. “Um, an old subculture on Earth. A bunch of young, disenfranchised humans who tried to escape from the trappings of society through alternative thinking, free love, that sort of thing.”

    “Huh,” Sunek mused, “Well, there was no free love in the V’tosh ka’tur, unfortunately.”

    “There was,” T’Len smiled, “But you were not invited.”

    Sunek’s grin slipped slightly. He wasn’t averse to a bit of self-deprecation from time to time, but didn’t enjoy it quite so much when other people made him the butt of the joke. Though, from the smirks on the other faces around the table, he was in a minority on that matter.

    “But,” Denella finally managed, gesturing to the two Vulcans, “What…? When…? Why…?”

    “I think what my engineer is going for is: How did you end up getting married?” Jirel said, stepping in to translate, “Specifically, to Sunek?”

    “What?” Sunek, grin restored, shot back, “My rugged masculinity isn’t enough of a reason--?”

    “No,” Denella answered immediately, causing Sunek’s grin to vanish all over again.

    “Come on,” Jirel persisted, “You can’t just drop the ‘I was married all along’ bombshell on us after this long. Do we get an actual explanation, or do I have to set Klath on you?”

    The Klingon, playing along with the bit, folded his arms across his chest and stared at the Vulcan couple with a menacing glower.

    “I’ve already told you,” Sunek sighed, “There’s really not much to tell. We got married on the Vulcan colony on Hexis Prime...I dunno, thirty years ago?”

    “Thirty years, six months and fourteen days ago,” T’Len nodded, confirming Sunek’s statement and clearing up any remaining doubts about her Vulcan heritage in one fell swoop.

    “So,” Natasha asked, “You were betrothed then? Or--?”

    “Oh, wait,” Denella said, her face lighting up in drunken excitement, “Did you have to challenge someone to a fight with those big stick-y blade-y things? Because those look amazing.”

    “It’s called a Lirpa, Professor,” Sunek shot back sarcastically, “And, no. I guess the easiest way to explain it would be a...marriage of convenience?”

    He tried his hardest not to take any further offence from the looks of understanding that now cascaded around the table, as if everything about the situation suddenly made complete sense.

    “We were both from very traditional families,” T’Len continued, “Neither of them were especially supportive of our desire to be part of the V’tosh ka’tur, and did what they could to prevent us from having any part of it. But once we were married, we were able to make our own decisions.”

    “Yeah,” Sunek nodded, “We found a more liberally minded priestess to preside over it, did the whole ceremony, and...honestly, we haven’t seen much of each other since.”

    He absently glanced over at T’Len, and made a mental note to avoid thinking too much about the sudden pang of longing he felt inside.

    “How very romantic,” Jirel deadpanned.

    “How very bite me,” Sunek countered, getting his mind back to normal.

    “Well, I was always grateful for what Sunek did for me back there,” T’Len replied, “You can only imagine what it is like to deal with having to tell your parents that you want to embrace your emotions. But Sunek was always so supportive.”

    “Supportive?” Jirel said with a look of feigned shock, “You, Sunek?”

    “Continue to bite me, Jirel.”

    “Actually, Sunek was quite the activist in his youth,” T’Len continued, with no lack of pride, “He helped many young Vulcans at the ShiKahr Learning Institute come to terms with the possibility of exploring their emotional side.”

    Sunek felt himself squirm in his seat. Ironically, the emotion he was currently exploring was one of his least favourites. Embarrassment. “Yeah, well,” he managed to shrug, “Everyone’s an activist when they’re a student, right?”

    “And now,” T’Len continued, gently placing her hand on top of his, “Something in our cosmic destiny has brought us back together.”

    Despite his continued discomfort, he couldn’t help it as his face creased into the dopiest of smiles at this comment. Seconds later, not quite soon enough to disguise it, he turned back to the wider group and adjusted his features into his more usual cocky grin.

    “So, that’s the whole story,” he said, going back on the offensive as cover for his initial reaction, “And now, the way I see it, you guys all owe us a drink.”

    “How’d you figure that?” Denella asked, slightly nonplussed.

    “None of you ever got us a wedding present!”


    Several belated wedding presents later, the Andorian waitress in the cumbersome heels was no nearer to her least favourite table of the night settling up.

    “I cannot believe you tried to bribe the Sheliak Corporate!” T’Len managed to get out through a burst of laughter as Sunek finished his latest tale of life onboard the Bounty.

    “Hey,” Sunek replied as he sipped his latest drink, “The alternative was reading a five thousand page trading contract. Besides, it very nearly worked.”

    “How very nearly?”

    “We...may technically still be wanted felons in Sheliak space.”

    T’Len laughed some more. Sunek couldn’t help but join in. There was something infectious about it.

    “But,” he added, “The good news is that the warrant out in our name is filled with so many clauses, there’s not a bounty hunter in the galaxy who’ll bother to take it on!”

    Neither half of the atypical Vulcan couple could remember exactly when the rest of the Bounty’s crew had called it a night.

    If they’d really put their minds to it, they’d have to say it had been somewhere between the shots of Aldebaran whiskey and the round of unpronounceable Klingon cocktails that Klath had taken great delight in ordering, and that had caused both Jirel and Natasha to take long separate bathroom breaks that neither of them were in the mood to talk about when they returned.

    But they didn’t bother putting their minds to it, because it didn’t really matter to either of them. They had spent most of the night talking to each other anyway. After all, they did have precisely thirty years, six months and fourteen days worth of anecdotes to catch up on.

    “Hey, I meant to ask you,” Sunek continued, changing the subject, “Are you still in touch with any of the old gang? Y’know, from the old days at the Learning Institute?”

    T’Len slowly calmed her laughter. It sounded natural enough, and Sunek had no way of knowing that she was simply taking long enough to make her reply seem believable.

    “Not especially. As I’m sure you remember, I left in something of a hurry after our…”

    “Right,” Sunek nodded, dismissing the latest sense of longing just as quickly as he had done with the others.

    Taking advantage of the rare moment of silence that followed, the Andorian waitress shuffled over as fast as her footwear would safely allow and politely informed them that the Pride of Andor was about to close, dropping off their final bill at the same time. Without waiting, T’Len checked the bill and deposited a small pile of latinum on the table.

    “Wow,” Sunek grinned, forgetting all about pursuing his previous question any further, “Do I have the best wife or what?”

    “You know,” she said, more seriously, “I meant what I said earlier.”

    “About how you can tie a Kaferian apple stalk in a knot with your tongue? Cos I’d definitely be up for seeing--”

    “No,” she interrupted with a patient smile, “About how grateful I was for back on Hexis Prime. I can see you prefer to act like it was nothing around your friends. But being able to leave that place changed my life. So much for the better.”

    “Hey,” Sunek shrugged nonchalantly, quite enjoying his ego being massaged, “What’s the concept of marriage for if not to be completely undermined in order to run away from your parents?”

    She stifled a chuckle and shuffled slightly closer to him, placing her hand on his arm. It was only a small gesture, but it was also one that made Sunek’s arm suddenly crackle with electricity. He suppressed a gulp.

    “Well, I was thinking,” she said quietly, “I mean, it was a shame that I had to leave as quickly as I did. We never really got to say goodbye. We never got to do...many things that a married couple might usually do.”

    She ran her hand slowly up his arm. Sunek completely failed to suppress the second gulp, nor the first dirty grin.

    “Oh yeah?”

    “Yes,” she said with a flirtatious smile, “But now we find ourselves back together. And my lodgings here on Redrax are only a few streets away…”

    Sunek’s grin grew thirty percent wider, and at least fifty percent dirtier.

    “Perhaps,” she concluded, running her finger back down his arm, “You would care for a nightcap?”

    By the time the Andorian waitress had tottered back over to find that the most obnoxious table she had dealt with for some time had also left one of the stingiest tips, the two Vulcans had vanished into the night.
  7. Robert Bruce Scott

    Robert Bruce Scott Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jun 18, 2021
    Vulcans in love... there has to be a song in there somewhere. Although it is possible that she's simply taking care of unfinished business before moving on... Thanks!! rbs
    BountyTrek likes this.
  8. BountyTrek

    BountyTrek Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 23, 2021
    Part One (Cont'd)

    She was right. She knew she’d been right. Even at the time, it had been obvious to anyone how completely right she’d been.

    It didn’t matter who you were, staying out as late as they had, drinking the amount that they had the night before they were due to attend a trade fair was a terrible idea.

    And yet, Natasha couldn’t take any real satisfaction from being so entirely and unequivocally right. Because at this precise point in time, she felt worse then any of them.

    It was already after midday, and even then, they were short two of their number. Jirel had been unable to raise Klath from a gently snoring slumber, while Sunek had been nowhere to be found at all. So, instead, Natasha, Jirel and Denella had headed to the fair by themselves. And it was safe to say that they weren’t making much of an impression.

    The main auditorium that was hosting the fair was a bustling hub of commerce in the middle of Redrax’s main city. It was an enormous expansive room, filled with life forms from every corner of the quadrant and beyond.

    The auditorium itself was situated on the top levels of the largest building in the city, spanning several floors of the building and topped off with a huge glass dome which gave an uninterrupted view of the surrounding area.

    If she hadn’t been so hungover, Natasha might have taken more time to appreciate the architecture, and the view from the dome itself. But she was hungover. Very, very hungover. So all she really noted was how the glass of the dome was reflecting the harsh sunlight straight at her face.

    All around them, there were elaborate stands, displays and tables staffed by Ferengi, Benzites, Gorn, Capellans and dozens of other species. At one point, she could have sworn she saw a Calamarain floating through the crowd in the distance, though she was willing to concede that may have just been a trick of the light.

    Some of the stalls were decked out with samples of the wares they were looking to move. Fine fabrics, sparkling gems and fragrant foodstuffs. Some stall owners handed out padds filled with advertising material, or excitedly pointed at displays that pitched some wild new post-war business opportunity in the Gamma Quadrant.

    Others displayed glossy holographic projections that showed off fleets of polished fleets of transport craft, or images of their crews, men and women who looked slightly too chisel-jawed and toned to be real people working in real jobs.

    Among this orgy of tacky advertisements, excessive self-promotion and elaborate promises, the Bounty’s hungover trio of dishevelled representatives at the largest trade fair in Redrax’s calendar year shuffled onwards through the crowds. They couldn’t have looked less employable if they tried.

    Natasha forced herself to hurry up and catch up to Denella and Jirel, who were walking fast, but seemingly without any destination in mind.

    “So, what’s the plan?”

    “Plan,” Jirel mused, rolling the word around on his tongue, “Honestly? Don’t really have one. But, at a fair this big, something’s bound to jump out at us sooner or later--”


    Something jumped out at them from behind a particularly gaudy stand for a delivery company whose promotional display promised the unlikely claim that they could ‘Get your parcels from Andor to Risa in two days, or your latinum back!’ in garish neon letters.

    Natasha noted that he was Boslic, the thick-set brow and ridged forehead above his eyes standing him out from the crowd.

    “Darhall!” Jirel beamed, holding his arms out in friendly greeting, “How’s the family--?”

    Without bothering to reply, Darhall stepped up to the Trill and delivered a single punch to his face, sending him flying back onto the ground.

    Natasha and Denella rushed over to help their shipmate up, though the other attendees of the fair barely paid the little scuffle any attention. It wasn’t the first such disagreement that had flared up since the fair had begun, and it wouldn’t be the last.

    “That’s for the stunt you pulled on Sentrick III," Darhall spat out as Jirel gently rubbed his swollen cheek.

    “I thought you said he’d forgiven you for that?” Denella asked with a wry smile.

    “I have,” the Boslic replied, “Now.”

    “Glad we could get that sorted out,” Jirel managed with a wince.

    “Not as much as I am,” Darhall leered with clear satisfaction, “And now that we’re even for that, I have a little business opportunity for you and your crew.”

    The Boslic’s leer grew wider. Jirel turned to Natasha and shrugged.

    “See? Told you something’d come up.”


    “You know, when you think about it, this was all very logical.”

    Sunek reclined on the bed and shouted in the direction of the bathroom, but he didn’t get an immediate answer. Not that he really cared, because himself talking was Sunek’s favourite part of just about any conversation anyway.

    He was in a fairly unassuming hostel room, containing little more than the bed, a small replicator and dining table and a doorway leading off to the bathroom. But the way he was feeling, he may as well have been in an executive suite on Wrigley’s Pleasure Planet.

    “I mean, you were right,” he continued, idly toying with a loose thread on his bathrobe, “We did the other marriage stuff. The blessings, the offerings, the creepy old priestess, but we never did any of the fun stuff. Logically, if we’re husband and wife, it’s only right that we get to do the fun stuff.”

    The bathroom door opened and T’Len padded out, wearing a robe of her own. He looked over at her and smirked.

    “And I really like the fun stuff. A lot.”

    She grabbed a glass of water from the replicator and perched on the edge of the bed, as he smiled back at her. “So many jokes,” she muttered eventually with a sigh, “You didn’t tell nearly as many when we were younger.”

    He smiled and leaned over to her, suggestively wiggling his eyebrows for effect. “Hey, there’s a lot of things I didn’t do a lot of when I was younger--Wait, no, ignore that. All of that. Immediately. Please.”

    His smirk disappeared in an instant as he leaned back in defeat, abandoning that particularly disastrous line of improvised flirting. T’Len stifled a slight chuckle as he shrank back, then grew more serious once again.

    “I remember what you were like back then,” she mused, “I remember the man that spoke so passionately at our meetings at the institute in ShiKahr. The one that stood up for our emotions, when our elders looked down on us. The one who helped so many young Vulcans to embrace what they were feeling. That young man was so...inspiring.”

    Sunek didn’t entirely hate this latest round of ego massage. But he still shifted uncomfortably on the bed. He didn’t tend to spend much time thinking of his life back then.

    “Nah, I was an idiot,” he managed eventually, “All I was saying was a bunch of rebellious student politics mixed in with some cod philosophy. Anyone could’ve done it.”

    “You really think that?”

    “I dunno, T’Len,” he admitted, “I mean, everyone’s like that when they’re younger, right? We all think we know how to fix everything that’s wrong with the universe, even though we’ve barely started living in the real world, and then you just...grow out of it. You grow up.”

    She looked over at him with an amused aside. “You’ve grown up?”

    He glared at her for a moment, then leaned back, propping his head on his arm and staring at the ceiling. She leaned back and rested her head on his stomach. He felt another crackle of electricity.

    After a moment of silence, she continued.

    “Have you ever been to the Voroth Sea?” she asked in a passive tone.

    “On Vulcan?” he replied, slightly thrown by the non sequitur, “The one from that dumb old meditation technique?”

    She turned to look up at him and nodded. It was the first meditation technique pretty much any Vulcan child learned, not exactly a stretch that he had known about it. But she continued.

    “In the meditation, you are told to picture a crystal clear reservoir of water, an island of calm. But the real Voroth Sea is nothing like that. It is a harsh, violent place. Ironic that such a famous pillar of Vulcan meditation is so illogical, don’t you think?”

    “I guess I always thought that was weird, but--Hang on,” Sunek paused for a moment, looking back at her with confusion, “Are you preaching to me right now? Is this some new bit you’re trying out for your next V’tosh ka’tur meeting?”

    She shook her head, not entirely happily. “No,” she replied, “Although I’m sure you could make it into quite a speech.”

    He couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow as she circled the conversation back around to his past. Not a show of intrigue, but one of frustration. “Maybe,” he managed, “Still, I guess I just prefer my life now.”

    “Making deliveries?”

    It was said with innocence, and without malice, but Sunek could have sworn he detected a darker note in her tone. A sliver of derision, a slightly superior sneer. Even a touch of anger.

    “Hey,” he chided with a smile, “That’s not fair--”

    His smile disappeared in a moment of realisation.

    “Crap, the fair,” he muttered, “I was supposed to be at that stupid trade fair thing! The others are gonna be so pissed…”

    He slid off the bed, leaving her behind, and rushed over to the bathroom to grab a sonic shower. As he neared the door, she called out after him.

    “Could I come with you?”

    He stopped in his tracks and turned back around, a dopey smile forming on his face. “You wanna go make some deliveries?” he couldn’t help but fire back.

    “Well,” she replied, a suggestive twinkle in her eyes, “We do still have thirty years, six months and fourteen days of married life to catch up on.”

    Had Sunek’s mind been more logically attuned, he might have spent some time weighing up this somewhat out of the blue suggestion. But while he could still operate with supremely Vulcan levels of concentration when he wanted to, right now his decidedly un-Vulcan libido passed an immediate resolution to ignore any more rational considerations on the matter.

    And his dopey smile grew wider.

    “You know, I could definitely get used to married life,” he grinned as he walked on into the bathroom.

    A second later, she heard the sonic shower start up. She reached over to a small rucksack that sat next to the bed and pulled out a stubby communicator. She clicked open the channel, knowing that they would be waiting for her transmission.

    “It’s me,” she said, her voice hidden from Sunek by the sound of the shower, “Everything is proceeding as planned…”


    The figure on the other end of the comms link sat in darkness.

    After a brief discussion with T’Len, he allowed her to return to her mission, and tapped the controls on the desk in front of him to terminate the link before leaning back and closing his eyes, now seeing darkness upon darkness.

    It comforted him.

    After a moment, he opened his eyes and allowed them to adjust to the dank conditions inside his quarters. He could have asked the computer to turn up the lights, but he preferred it like this.

    The vast expanse of the space around him was not built with comfort in mind. It may have been an elaborately large room, but it was utilitarian in design. The walls were a mix of dark green and rusty orange, the room almost bereft of furniture save for his desk and a dining table off to one side.

    It was also free of any sort of personal effects. He had little time for them these days. Still, as he looked around at the blank slate in which he now resided, he allowed himself a smile of satisfaction. The final pieces of the jigsaw were beginning to slot into place.

    He knew there was still plenty of work to do if they were going to be ready on time, and he also knew that he would have to oversee every last part of it to be truly satisfied that every eventuality had been covered and prepared for.

    But for the time being, he decided to allow himself a moment of indulgence.

    Closing his eyes again, he focused on a familiar meditative scene. The Voroth Sea.

    But not the fictional Voroth Sea that had been forced into his mind as a youth by his parents and his teachers. The real thing. The pure, unflinching truth behind the lies.

    He stood on the deck of the sailing ship with great difficulty, as a harsh gale blew across the deck. The tumultuous, writhing surface of the sea churned around beneath him, crashing waves of murky silt-filled water up and over the bow.

    The wind picked up, even more aggressively, sending salty spray into his face and causing him to stumble slightly as he tried to maintain his footing on the slippery deck.

    But he did hold his footing, because he was well versed in this meditative exercise. He saw the true face of the Voroth Sea, and he had conquered it after years of practice. It energised him, even as he sat peacefully at his desk in his quarters.

    He stood head-on to the storm, and allowed it to feed his rage.
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2021
  9. Robert Bruce Scott

    Robert Bruce Scott Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jun 18, 2021
    There's nothing quite as fun as a mysterious, vengeful vulcan... Yeah, this is going to lead to vulcan heartbreak...

    Thanks!! rbs
    BountyTrek likes this.
  10. BountyTrek

    BountyTrek Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 23, 2021
    Part One (Cont'd)

    Klath roared with effort as he lifted the heavy tritanium sheet above his head and set off up the Bounty’s cargo ramp once again.

    The ship was parked in a loading area on the outskirts of the main city of Redrax, surrounded by the cargo that they were loading onboard. As Klath headed up the ramp, Jirel and Natasha headed back down, midway through loading crates of other miscellaneous supplies.

    To one side, Darhall had propped himself against a pile of crates, watching on and very much not offering to help, while Denella checked off what was being loaded on a small padd, and offered Klath a sympathetic look as he continued up the ramp.

    “Sorry, Klath. All the anti-grav units for this section were booked out.”

    “Still,” Jirel smiled as the unhappy Klingon struggled on towards the top of the ramp, “That’s what you get for oversleeping.”

    The still somewhat hungover Klath grumbled quietly to himself as he disappeared inside the Bounty’s cargo bay.

    “Anyway,” Jirel said to Natasha with a wink as she assessed the weight of the next crate, “Told you we’d find a job.”

    “Although I’m still trying to figure out what the catch is,” Denella added with an uncertain glance at the Boslic next to her.

    “No catch,” Darhall replied, “Frankly, you should all be thanking me for giving you such lucrative work.”

    “Presumably it was more lucrative before you took your cut,” Jirel fired back.

    “Call it a finder’s fee. I had intended to do this job myself, but something else came up. A shipment of tulaberry wine destined for a resort on Risa. Pays twice as much as this little shuttle run, and comes with a complimentary weekend in one of their suites.”

    When he put it like that, it made sense that he was giving the Bounty this alternative delivery. An altogether less glamorous run to Sector Gamma 432 with a collection of engineering components, tritanium, ODN relays and isolinear chips.

    “Always thought you needed to work on that tan, Darhall,” Jirel replied.

    The Boslic ignored him and stepped over to Denella, with a knowing leer on his face. “The suite is for two, you know,” he muttered, “Private pool, so no need to pack a swimsuit.”

    Denella suppressed her shudder internally and kept her well-practiced defences raised as she politely stared down the lecherous Boslic.

    “Darhall, do you remember our little agreement?” she replied, casually reaching for the Orion dagger on her belt and flashing it at him, “You don’t say things like that to me, and in return I don’t introduce my favourite dagger here to your favourite part of your body.”

    Darhall shrank back slightly, still maintaining his leer.

    “If you two are done flirting,” Jirel chimed out as he descended back down the ramp, “We’d get all this loaded a lot faster if--”

    “Hey guys, need some help?”

    The unexpected question was enough to stop Jirel in his tracks. It had certainly sounded like Sunek, but it couldn’t possibly have been him. Because he was offering to help. Yet, as he looked over to where the voice had come from, there was an unmistakably Sunek-shaped figure approaching them from the far side of the landing area, with T’Len beside him.

    “Who are you?” Jirel asked, “And what have you done with the real Sunek?”

    “Yeah, ok, very funny,” Sunek sighed patiently, “Do you want my help or not?”

    Jirel and the rest of those present in the landing area watched on with open mouths as Sunek walked over to the nearest stack of crates and picked one up. Then, without any complaints, sarcastic comments or attempts to feign a back injury, the wiry Vulcan carried the crate up the ramp.

    “By the way,” Sunek added, pausing halfway up the ramp and gesturing to T’Len, “Is it cool if my wife tags along with us for a bit?”

    “Sunek,” Jirel replied with complete sincerity, “If it means you’re gonna help out like this, she can take my cabin.”

    “Ah, that definitely won’t be necessary,” the Vulcan grinned with an unsubtle glint in his eye.

    “...Right,” Jirel nodded, slightly uncomfortably.

    “Y’know, cos we’re totally doing it--”

    “Yep. Got it.”

    Sunek turned and continued on up the ramp, whistling a jaunty tune as he did so. T’Len followed him, carrying a crate of her own. Jirel turned and looked at Denella with no small amount of astonishment. She shrugged.

    “Cute couple.”


    Sector Gamma 432 was an unremarkable part of the galaxy. In fact, it was downright boring.

    It was within a few hours travel of several populated star systems, and therefore perhaps should have been busier than it was. But it was one of those sectors where there was always a more convenient route to get where you needed to go without passing through Sector Gamma 432 itself.

    No exploration vessel would ever consider visiting either. The entire sector contained just three planetary star systems, all three both uninhabited and uninhabitable, along with half a dozen brown dwarfs and a run of the mill type-4 emission nebula.

    The rogue planet designated Epsilon-543-tau by Federation scientists was set to traverse Sector Gamma 432 on its current course, and had been identified as a body of scientific interest. But it wasn’t due to pass into the sector’s boundaries for another 300 years, which wasn’t much use in the here and now.

    In the here and now, Sector Gamma 432 wasn’t exactly flush with strange new worlds. In fact, it wasn’t exactly flush with anything.

    And as the Bounty slowed to sublight speeds at the end of its overnight journey to this particular position, it looked to be the only ship for light years in any direction. Which, given that Darhall had told them they were headed here to rendezvous with another ship and drop off the cargo in their hold, was more than a little troubling.

    “Nothing,” Klath reported with an unhappy grunt from his tactical station, “Sensors detect no ships in the entire sector.”

    “Maybe they’re running late?” Natasha offered, from where she sat behind her own console on the right of the cockpit.

    She still felt a little silly sitting there. Partly because she felt the presence of T’Len where she stood over her shoulder. But mainly because the console itself still hadn’t been set up to serve any specific function, the dirty bank of controls and monitors in front of her were all still powered down and dark.

    Still, in her previous life as a Starfleet medical officer, she spent her time stuck down in sickbay, so for the time being she was just glad to have a front row seat. Even if she felt a little bit like a competition winner manning a pretend station.

    “Maybe someone wrote the coordinates down wrong,” Sunek offered, his good spirits continuing despite their current setback. They were mainly continuing because, since they’d left Redrax, he and T’Len had barely left his cabin.

    “Maybe someone input the coordinates into the guidance computer wrong,” Denella fired back from her engineering console at the rear of the room.

    After a moment of silence, Jirel emitted a despondent sigh from where he sat in his tatty centre chair. “Darhall.”

    “You believe this is a trap?” Klath glowered, tensing up in anticipation.

    “Not exactly,” the Trill replied, “But I think that after that stunt we pulled on Sentrick III, just punching me in the face wasn’t gonna be enough to level the score.”

    “So, he set this whole thing up?” Natasha asked.

    “We just spent most of yesterday putting our backs out lugging all that useless scrap onboard and wasted another day flying all the way out to the middle of literally nowhere. I’d say our Boslic friend is on his way to that suite on Risa laughing himself stupid right now.”

    The others in the cockpit considered this for a moment.

    “Ok,” Denella said eventually, “But if that’s true, how come he gave us our share of the payment up front?”

    Jirel turned back to look out of the cockpit window, in lieu of having an answer for that question.

    “Besides,” Sunek said, swinging back around to the rest of the group and grinning, “If he really wanted to get his own back, couldn’t he have just slugged you in the face a couple more times?”

    He let out a chuckle, even as he saw that the others didn’t seem to be in the mood to join in. Instead, they were all staring at something over his shoulder.

    “What?” he continued, obliviously, “Guys, why are you being so--?”

    He swung back around, following their collective gaze until he arrived back on the view out of the cockpit window. And all he could see was a wall of green metal.

    “Oh,” he managed, “I see.”

    The Bounty hung in space in the middle of Sector Gamma 432, the tiny ship now dwarfed by the immense form of the decloaked Romulan Warbird.

    End of Part One
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2021
    tax1234 and Robert Bruce Scott like this.
  11. Robert Bruce Scott

    Robert Bruce Scott Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jun 18, 2021
    Romulans need stuff too...

    Thanks!! rbs
    BountyTrek likes this.
  12. BountyTrek

    BountyTrek Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 23, 2021
    Part Two

    It was Klath that broke the shocked silence that had descended on the Bounty’s cockpit, the Klingon immediately jumping to action stations.

    “I am raising our shields and bringing weapons online,” he barked out as he tapped his controls.

    Nobody else in the cockpit moved.

    “Why?” Jirel managed to reply, still staring at the vast ship in front of them.

    “We must defend ourselves!” Klath spat back at the Trill, “They are Romulans!”

    “Yep, thanks for the ID, mighty oracle. And if they really want to pick a fight with us out here, there’s not much our little peashooter of a torpedo launcher can do about it.”

    “It’s enormous,” Natasha whispered from the other side of the cockpit.

    She had seen Warbirds plenty of times before during her time with Starfleet. But back then, she had been on a starship. Somehow, seeing the gigantic vessel from onboard a ship as small as the Bounty seemed to magnify its size even more.

    “Jirel,” Klath persisted, “If we are to die, then we must die with honour!”

    Jirel spun around to his incensed Klingon weapons chief and tried to keep his voice as calm and measured as possible. “Ok, Klath, just listen to me for a second. I have no intention of dying today, with honour or otherwise. And, right now, the best way of making sure I don't die today is if we do nothing that might piss off that great big Romulan ship out there, ok?”

    For a moment, he thought Klath was actually about to ignore him and open fire, regardless of how futile it would be. But eventually, he merely folded his arms in a show of annoyance.

    “We could always run?” Natasha offered.

    “Same problem,” Denella replied, “That thing’ll run rings around us at warp.”

    “So?” Sunek asked, not unreasonably, “What exactly are we gonna do?”

    Jirel went to answer, then stopped himself. A silent admission that he didn’t have a clue. Instead, it was T’Len who answered her estranged husband’s question.

    “You could hail them?”

    All five of the Bounty’s crew turned around in unison to look at the Vulcan woman with varying levels of disbelief. For her part, she stared back with complete sincerity.

    “You were asked to deliver your cargo to a ship at these coordinates, were you not? Well, that is a ship. At these coordinates.”

    Jirel scoffed, not knowing whether to laugh or cry. “Ok, so, you think the Romulan Empire is paying us - this ship - to deliver their spare parts?”

    T’Len remained a picture of sincerity. Jirel scoffed again and looked over to Denella for some sort of support. The Orion woman merely shrugged.

    “I mean,” she offered, “If they wanted us dead, we’d be very, very dead by now, right?”

    The Trill chewed his lip thoughtfully, then sighed in defeat.

    “Alright,” he said, feeling faintly ridiculous, “In lieu of a sane plan, I guess I’ll...hail them.”

    He swivelled back around to the front of the cockpit and tapped the controls on the arm of his chair, licking his lips and digging down to find his best captain’s voice.

    “Romulan ship, this is, um, the Bounty?” he began, not quite finding it, “We were, erm, told to deliver supplies to these coordinates. Do you...know anything about that?”

    He slumped back in his chair and waited for a response. He had started to sweat.

    “Very nice Jirel,” Denella whispered from behind him, “Sounded very captain-y.”

    “Yeah, very funny. Do you wanna take over--?”

    Before he got any further, the whole ship rocked gently. Klath jumped back into action, but everyone present knew it didn’t feel like weapons fire.

    “They have locked a tractor beam on us,” he reported urgently, “We are being towed into their main hangar bay!”

    The Klingon looked up at his colleagues, who he noted with increasing disdain had still not matched his state of battle readiness.

    “Well,” Denella offered, “That’s what I’d do if I wanted to offload a bunch of supplies from the cargo bay of a smaller ship?”

    “Yeah,” Jirel added, giving himself up to the farce of the situation, “In a weird way, this is actually a good thing?”

    Through the cockpit window, they watched as the eerie green-tinged light of the tractor beam pulled the Bounty between the twin hulls of the ship and towards the open doors of the hangar bay at the rear of the ship’s hawk-like front section.

    “So,” Sunek quipped as the ship passed inside, “Anyone know the Romulan for ‘We come in peace’?”

    The Bounty settled down onto the deck of the hangar bay with a gentle thud. Behind it, the vast bay doors slowly closed and locked together. Seconds later, unbeknownst to the Bounty’s crew, the entire Warbird began to shimmer as the great ship cloaked.

    And then Sector Gamma 432 was back to being as unremarkable and boring as it had ever been.


    Jirel peered out of the cockpit window at the huge empty hanger bay and shrugged.

    “Well,” he muttered to nobody in particular, “Let’s go say hello, I guess.”

    He turned around, to see Klath in the middle of tooling up. The Klingon already had his bat’leth slung behind his back, and was in the process of clipping a dagger and a stout disruptor to his belt.

    “Klath, what the hell are you doing?”

    Klath looked back at the Trill, as if the answer should have been obvious.

    “I am preparing for battle.”

    “Of course,” Jirel sighed, “So, what’s the plan, then? You’re gonna rush out there, single-handedly fight your way through a couple of thousand Romulan soldiers and commandeer their ship?”

    Klath considered this for a moment with a look of complete seriousness.

    “You are all welcome to assist,” he said eventually.

    “Ok, just--No weapons,” Jirel snapped, “We’re here to make a delivery, remember?”

    “You hope,” Sunek muttered with amusement from behind Jirel.

    Klath stared back at the Trill for a moment. Then, with a further annoyed grimace, he reluctantly started to remove his weapons.

    Moments later, six slightly dishevelled and entirely unarmed figures descended the Bounty’s rear cargo ramp and looked around.

    “You know,” Sunek mused, “I was expecting it to be a lot bigger on the inside.”

    Despite his comment, the hangar bay was more than large enough, made of faded dark metal and stretching out around them. But there was something slightly off about their surroundings.

    What little cargo they could see was haphazardly piled up around the place, with no real sense of military order to them. The scuffed walls of the bay showed clear signs of damage and disrepair, as if the ship had just come out of a significant battle. And even the lighting seemed off, slightly dimmer than was really comfortable for a bay of this size, and flickering slightly.

    “Huh,” Denella offered simply as she clocked the extent of the decay, “Does this place ever look like crap.”

    As they reached the bottom of the ramp, a set of doors on the other side of the bay opened and footsteps paced into the room.

    “Welp,” Jirel muttered, trying to adopt his best space captain pose and falling as short as he had with his captain’s voice a few minutes earlier, “I guess this’ll be the welcoming committee.”

    Through the dimmed lighting, they saw a trio of figures with pointed ears approaching them. But they didn’t walk with the practiced march of Romulan troops. This was more of a ramshackle cacophony of steps on the hard metal floor.

    And they weren’t wearing Romulan uniforms. Instead, they were all clad in a variety of coloured overalls and tunics. And, while they had pointed ears, they were all clearly not Romulan, but Vulcan.

    And they were all smiling.

    The Vulcan at the head of the trio was a tall, rangy man with short brown hair and a close-cropped goatee beard. He led the other two Vulcans, a stout male and a slender female, up to the Bounty’s crew and then stopped in his tracks, taking them all in.

    For a moment, nobody quite seemed to know what to do next.

    Except for Sunek, who let out an audible gasp as he finally saw the face of the leading Vulcan in a clear light.

    “Holy crap,” he blurted out, “Sokar?”

    The bearded Vulcan smiled wider and nodded.

    “Yes, Sunek,” he replied, “It’s me.”

    Sunek laughed out loud, crossing the divide between the two crews and wrapping the rangy Vulcan in a tight bear hug. T’Len also broke from her position and walked over to join the others, looking to be familiar with all of them.

    “Anyone starting to feel a bit used?” Denella asked without amusement.

    “Guys,” Sunek laughed, turning back to the rest of the Bounty’s crew, “It’s Sokar!”

    “Yep,” Jirel replied tersely, “We got that bit.”

    “But...I know him! From years ago, in the V’tosh ka’tur! I…”

    Sunek paused, struggling to take everything in. Sokar took that opportunity to step forwards and address the rest of the Bounty’s crew with open arms.

    “My friends,” he said, with a somewhat pompous air, “Welcome to the starship Tolaris. The flagship of the V’tosh ka’tur.”
    Robert Bruce Scott likes this.
  13. Robert Bruce Scott

    Robert Bruce Scott Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jun 18, 2021
    Okay... How did a bunch of vulcan misfits get their hands on a warbird? Thanks!! rbs
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  14. BountyTrek

    BountyTrek Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 23, 2021
    Part Two (Cont'd)

    “This is crazy…”

    It was already the sixth or seventh time that Sunek had said those exact words since Sokar’s announcement in the hangar bay. And it almost certainly wouldn’t be the last.

    His mind had been flying at warp speed ever since he had crossed paths with the second face from his past in the last couple of days. He had barely noticed as Sokar had introduced the Bounty’s crew to his two cohorts, Tepal and T’Prin. He had only been vaguely aware as he had led them from the hangar bay through a dizzying maze of corridors. And he hadn’t really been listening when dinner was suggested.

    Because his mind was still struggling to put all the pieces together. Sokar, one of his best friends back at the ShiKahr Learning Institute, was here. Apparently commanding a Romulan Warbird.

    Sunek had gotten used to a lot of things not making sense in his life. But this was stretching even his sense of credulity.

    He struggled back into the here and now and looked around at their surroundings. Sokar had brought them to the enormous main dining hall of the Tolaris, a vast expanse of a room which had presumably been designed to keep hundreds of hungry Romulan soldiers fed at a time. Meaning that the room slightly dwarfed the current dining party, who occupied a scant few seats on a single one of the long metal tables that were laid out around the room in tight formation.

    There was a clear delineation down the middle of the table, though Sunek hadn’t been paying enough attention to remember whether that was deliberate or not. He sat with the rest of the Bounty’s crew on one side, while Sokar sat with T’Prin, Tepal and T’Len on the other.

    In between the two groups, the table was adorned with a veritable feast of Vulcan cuisine, a display of luxury that seemed a little unnecessary both for the size of the dining party and for the occasion. It was more like a state banquet than a friendly cosy meal.

    He looked over at T’Len, who was directly opposite him. She smiled back at him, knowingly.

    “I take it you knew about all this?” he managed. There was no unhappiness at being deceived in his comment, merely a tinge of awe.

    “I felt it would be a nice surprise,” she replied with a good-natured tone.

    “Yes,” Sokar jumped in without prompting, “T’Len and I crossed paths some months ago on Abrion IV. We were both eager to get together with some V’tosh ka’tur members again. And she was especially keen that we tracked you down, in particular, Sunek.”

    She looked down at the table with mild embarrassment. Sunek felt that pesky dopey smile creep back onto his face.

    “This is crazy…” he whispered for the seventh or possibly eighth time.

    Sokar let out a hearty laugh and turned back to the rest of the Bounty’s crew, who were still looking distinctly uncomfortable with the situation.

    “My apologies to you all,” he offered, “It wasn’t our intention to deceive you.”

    “Hard fail on that front, just FYI,” Jirel replied curtly.

    Sokar’s broad smile remained, but Jirel saw something change in his eyes. He definitely looked a little irritated by the Trill’s comment.

    “I’m sure you have plenty of questions,” Sokar continued with a deliberately pleasant tone, “And I’ll be happy to answer them. It’s just unfortunate that our method of getting you here had to be a bit...cloak and dagger.”

    “Was that a pun?” Denella asked from Jirel’s side, without a trace of mirth.

    Sokar didn’t answer, the signs of irritation on his otherwise smiling face growing a tad more recognisable. He gestured to the feast in front of them.

    “But first: Please, eat,” he continued, “Thanks to T’Prin here for preparing such a repast. She has been busy reprogramming the replicators with appropriately Vulcan food.”

    The slender Vulcan woman at the end of the group nodded and smiled.

    At the end of the Bounty’s side of the table, Klath looked at the food with distrust. They had already been deceived once, and given the proliferation of poisons and biological agents throughout the galaxy, it would be an act of pure stupidity to accept anything from their untrustworthy guests without completing some sort of rudimentary inspection first.

    He looked back across at his hungry colleagues to see that they had all already started eating. The Klingon rolled his eyes in frustration.

    “Hey, a free meal’s a free meal,” Sunek quipped to the watching Vulcans as he loaded his plate with generous slices of fried Flatroot.

    “You really didn’t have to do this,” Jirel added, as he chewed on a portion of Adronn feltara.

    “But it’s appreciated,” Denella said between hungry slurps of Plomeek soup.

    Natasha mustered a nod of agreement, her efforts to do anything else hindered by a mouthful of Shav-rot.

    On the other side of the table, the four Vulcans watched on for a moment with a shared look of satisfaction. T’Prin turned and looked at the final member of the Bounty’s crew, as Klath unhappily sniffed a piece of freshly prepared Saffir.

    “And what about you, Klingon friend?” she asked with a smile, “Is my cooking to your tastes?”

    Klath glanced up, looking unsettled as he realised that he was the centre of attention. He still wasn’t entirely sure they weren’t all being poisoned, but he reluctantly took a tentative bite of the warm bread and swallowed loudly.

    “It is...edible,” he said, after a moment of guarded consideration.

    “Our brave warrior,” Denella grinned as she ripped off a similar chunk of bread from the communal pile, earning an especially dark glower from the Klingon.

    Sokar roared with laughter at this. Jirel smiled, but there again seemed something off about his reaction. It hadn’t been that funny. It felt like he was compensating for something, somehow.

    “Think of this as a thank you,” Sokar offered as his laughter subsided, “For bringing us our supplies.”

    At this, Denella paused, midway through helping herself to a second portion of T’mirak rice.

    “You...actually need all that stuff?”

    It was Tepal who replied, from the left side of Sokar.

    “I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to keep a Romulan Warbird running,” he said, “But it does tend to need a lot of spare parts.”

    Denella recalled the state of disrepair she had seen in the hangar bay, as well as in the corridors on their walk to the dining hall, and nodded. It made sense.

    “This is crazy…” Sunek offered, for what may have been the ninth time.

    “I’m still a bit hazy on how you ended up with this ship,” Jirel admitted, toying with his food for a moment.

    “We found it,” Tepal replied simply, his tone switching to a more terse and guarded level.

    “Forgetful guys, those Romulans. Imagine losing a thing like this.”

    Sokar smiled back at the Trill, but there was no trace of even false mirth in this one.

    “The Tolaris - or whatever the Romulans might have called it - was drifting through the Sendran system when we happened upon it,” he explained in a slightly superior manner, “Completely abandoned, but very much repairable.”

    “I guess that bit’s still a work in progress,” Denella offered.

    Sokar flinched slightly. Must’ve hit a nerve, the Orion woman thought to herself.

    “Romulans do not abandon their ships,” Klath boomed out suddenly, “They destroy them before they end up in the hands of an enemy.”

    Sokar glanced over at the Klingon dismissively.

    “The Sendran system was a Dominion stronghold during the war,” he explained, “We suspect the ship was boarded and captured before the crew had a chance to scuttle it, and the Dominion took it away for further study. Only to abandon it when they fled back to the Gamma Quadrant.”

    “Makes sense,” Natasha nodded thoughtfully, “Starfleet heard similar reports of starships being seized by Dominion forces from time to time.”

    She was sure she detected a slight flinch on Sokar’s face when she mentioned Starfleet, but she quickly dismissed it. After all, if she was being entirely honest with herself, the word still had a similar effect on her.

    “The superstructure and the warp drive were fully operational,” Sokar continued, “But you are right that the rest of the ship required a lot of work. With the supplies you have provided, however, we should be able to bring all essential systems online.”

    “Like the cloaking device?” Denella asked, politely but pointedly querying his definition of essential systems.

    Sokar’s smile tightened another few notches. Tepal chimed in with a response.

    “As Sokar said to us when we first drew up the repair schedule, when your ship has a cloak, it tends to become an essential system. Because it’s so…’wicked cool’.”

    Sokar burst out laughing again. Natasha couldn’t help but stare at the sight, realising too late that the bearded Vulcan had noticed her gaze.

    “Is there a problem, doctor?”

    “Oh, um, sorry,” she managed, shifting in her seat, “It’s just--I guess I’m still getting used to the idea of laughing Vulcans.”

    She tried a chuckle of her own, her comment meant to be good-natured. But Sokar and the others didn’t match her reaction. If anything, the mood across the other side of the table seemed to grow substantially darker. She stopped chuckling and coughed awkwardly.

    “Interesting,” Sokar nodded, with a raised eyebrow, “Tell me, Ms Kinsen, what do you have in common with Adolf Hitler?”

    “I beg your pardon?”

    “Or Khan Noonien Singh? Or Vlad the Impaler? I mean, you are all human, are you not? Surely you must all think and feel and act the same way?”

    Natasha struggled to figure out whether he was being serious, or whether this was a particularly committed joke on his part. None of the Vulcans seemed amused, that much was clear.

    “Hey,” Sunek managed, breaking the icy silence that had descended, “Come on, you don’t need to do the whole--”

    “Or is it only you humans who are allowed to embrace their individuality?” Sokar continued, with what was now sounding like a well-trodden spiel, “While the rest of the galaxy must conform to these narrow little stereotypes? The logical Vulcans, the brutal Cardassians, the warlike Klingons--”

    “Present company excepted, obviously,” Jirel chimed in, causing Klath’s glower to deepen further.

    “Um,” Natasha managed, “Look, I’m sorry if I offended you. I just meant--”

    “Doc, relax,” Sunek chimed in, looking a tad embarrassed, “This is just some old rabble rousing stuff from when we were young. Right, Sokar?”

    The bearded Vulcan stared at Natasha for a few more moments, long enough for her to get the distinct impression that his forthcoming climbdown was not entirely genuine.

    “Yes. Perhaps it is,” he replied, “But you have to understand that it does get...tiring, to be constantly seen as aberrations.”

    “All we want,” Tepal added, “Is to be seen as a natural - perhaps even a logical - part of an inherently chaotic universe. Not a strange deviation from the norm.”

    Natasha nodded in understanding, still feeling like every pair of Vulcan eyes in the room was silently judging her. Even Sunek. Another silence descended. Everyone’s appetites appeared to have vanished for the time being.

    “Well,” Jirel managed eventually, “Again, you really shouldn’t have...with all the food. But now we should probably offload our cargo and leave you to get on with--”

    “My people will deal with the cargo,” Sokar shot back, as if he hadn’t really been listening, “You are our guests.”

    Something about that comment piqued Jirel’s suspicions all over again. His people?

    “Besides,” he continued, looking over at Sunek, “I’m sure that Sunek would like to stay for a while.”

    “Perhaps,” Tepal offered to the others, “The rest of you would care for a tour of the Tolaris?”

    Denella mused on this for a moment, then shrugged and nodded. After all, it wasn’t every day you were offered a tour of a Romulan Warbird. Regardless of what condition it was in.

    Evidently, however, this wasn’t a belief shared by Klath.

    “I will assist with the cargo,” the Klingon replied simply.

    Sokar and the other Vulcans looked back at the impassive Klingon, but decided against pushing the issue.

    All things considered, Jirel mused to himself, he had been to less awkward dinner parties.
  15. Robert Bruce Scott

    Robert Bruce Scott Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jun 18, 2021
    24th Century Vulcan Social Justice Warriors... Action figures come complete with chips that you can easily knock off their shoulders... Sounds like they're halfway out of their vulcan minds..

    Thanks!! rbs
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  16. BountyTrek

    BountyTrek Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 23, 2021
    Part Two (Cont'd)

    Tepal’s tour was proving to be as extensive as it was dreary.

    “A magnificent craft,” he stated flatly, “The Romulans call it a D’deridex-class. Sixty-three decks in total. Maximum speed of warp 9.6, and, of course, you’re already aware of the cloaking device...”

    The stout Vulcan may have embraced his emotional side, but as he led Denella and Jirel down yet another of the Tolaris’s dark metal corridors, he still needed some work on his presentational skills. For most of the tour, it sounded to Jirel like he was just reading facts off a trading card.

    “...The whole ship is over 1400 metres in length,” he continued to drone on, not exactly disproving the Trill's suspicions, “With a mass of some 4,320,000 metric tonnes...”

    Jirel and Denella had been the only two who had ultimately taken up the offer of the tour.

    Sunek had disappeared with T’Len as soon as dinner was over, holding hands and giddily rushing off like two furtive teenage lovers trying to get some alone time away from their parents.

    Meanwhile, Natasha had surprisingly volunteered to go with Klath back to the Bounty and help to unload the supplies. Jirel suspected that decision had been down to the particularly uncomfortable time she’d had during their meal. She didn’t want to risk any more faux pas.

    Still, as Tepal continued with his lengthy description of the precise composition of the metal panelling in the corridor walls, Jirel found himself feeling a little jealous that he hadn’t decided to go with a couple of hours of manual labour instead.

    “...The Romulans seem to prefer tritanium to lighter composites,” the Vulcan noted, as Jirel suppressed a yawn, “I believe this is designed to help with ship rigidity while at impulse…”

    To Jirel's side, Denella was at least paying attention to Tepal’s spiel. Although she was more unimpressed with what she was seeing rather than what she was hearing. The more she saw of the Tolaris, the less it looked like the unimpeachable Romulan Warbird that had first confronted them in Sector Gamma 432.

    In fact, in her considered and semi-professional engineering opinion, the Tolaris was a complete wreck.

    The disrepair they had seen earlier wasn’t even half of it. As they followed Tepal on his exhaustive tour, she noted wires and cabling hanging down from various panels all over the ceiling, apparently unconnected to anything, while every few steps they walked past an exposed section of isolinear circuitry in the walls.

    Barely half of the lights on the entire ship seemed to work, computer terminals flickered and blinked as if they were low on power, and when they reached the occasional section where the ship’s guts were at least covered up, the walls and decking were a hodge-podge of multicoloured panels, all badly sealed together.

    Despite the vast scale and the grandeur of the Warbird, she wasn’t lying to herself when she thought she’d be ashamed if even a fraction of the Bounty was left in this sort of condition.

    It also wasn’t hard to spot that the Tolaris was unnaturally empty for a vessel of her size. Aside from the odd smiling Vulcan here and there, the corridors were virtually deserted.

    But despite all that, Tepal delivered his dry tour with all the reverence and pride as if they were touring the decks of the USS Enterprise herself.

    “...And once we’ve completed work on the internal sensors, we’ll have full automation of shipboard systems…”

    They turned a corner and Tepal deftly swerved around a stray plasma relay spitting sparks out onto the deck as if it wasn’t there. Behind him, Jirel gave the crackling relay a significantly wider and more tentative berth, glancing over at Denella and matching her look of concern.

    “Love what you’ve done with the place,” Jirel muttered sarcastically.

    “There is still some work to do,” Tepal replied with a shrug, in what Denella thought was a contender for the understatement of the century so far.

    “I’ll say,” she replied, noting that Tepal’s expression turned notably more annoyed at this latest comment on the state of his ship.

    “Still,” he countered, “Before the Tolaris, we travelled on an old Tellurian freighter. It was old, run down, barely capable of warp 4. Sokar felt it was time for an upgrade.”

    “I can imagine that,” Jirel mused, “But, I mean, back when I found the Bounty, I thought I’d bitten off more than I could chew just getting her spaceworthy. This is something else.”

    “Yes, well. Yours is a perfectly fine little ship--” Tepal began.

    “Little?” Denella muttered. This time, it was her turn to look offended by a comment about her ship.

    “And yet,” the Vulcan continued, “If you had been fortunate enough to find a Vor’cha-class cruiser, or a Galaxy-class starship, would you have turned it down?”

    Jirel considered this for a moment. “Well, I’d probably have needed a bigger crew.”

    “You definitely would,” Denella added with a good-natured grin, “You think my overtime costs are bad now.”

    They reached the doors to a turbolift and Tepal pressed the controls to summon a lift car.

    “Speaking of crews,” Jirel added, “Seems a bit empty around here?”

    Tepal’s face betrayed another look of irritation at this question. Or perhaps something even deeper than that. A look of anger. “There are eighty-seven of us onboard,” he admitted eventually, “Many of the other members of the V’tosh ka’tur decided not join us.”

    “Huh,” Jirel replied, “Any reason why?”

    Tepal didn’t even pretend to offer an answer to that question, and merely turned back to the controls to call for the lift again. “I’m sure there’ll be plenty more onboard once word gets out about the Tolaris,” he replied, switching effortlessly back to monotonous tour guide mode, “After all, the D’deridex-class has room for a crew complement of up to 1500…”

    The turbolift doors opened, and Jirel went to step inside, secretly glad that the doors had broken up Tepal’s latest monologue.

    Suddenly, he felt the Vulcan grab him, stopping him from going any further. It was only then that he saw that, while the turbolift doors had opened, the turbolift itself didn’t seem to have got the message. His right foot dangled out into the empty lift shaft, a good forty-floor drop below it.

    For his part, Tepal kept a firm hold of the Trill until he retracted his foot safely back to terra firma, watching the scene unfold impassively.

    “Apologies,” he said simply, “We are still having some minor issues with the turbolifts.”

    Jirel looked back at Denella, who was staring at the empty space where the lift was supposed to be with a fair degree of shock.

    “Good to know,” he managed weakly.


    If one half of the Bounty’s crew were finding Tepal’s tour of the ship hard to take, the other half found themselves stuck in an equally trying situation.

    Natasha and Klath had returned to the hangar bay to unload their cargo accompanied by T’Prin, who wasn’t the most talkative of the Vulcans they had met so far. But they had been joined by a younger and considerably more excitable Vulcan man called Ronek, who had clearly latched onto the emotion of pride more than any of the others.

    Natasha sighed with exertion as she dropped the latest crate of supplies into the Tolaris’s hangar bay, sending an echoing sound around the expanse of the room, as Ronek continued his own soliloquy on the subject of the Tolaris.

    “It really is a fantastic ship,” the lanky Vulcan persisted, effortlessly walking down the Bounty’s cargo ramp with a crate in his arms, “I personally worked with Tepal on repairing the weapons systems. Six full-spread disruptor arrays, twin torpedo launchers. Remarkable.”

    “Sounds...great,” Natasha managed with a forced smile.

    He had been talking almost non-stop since they had arrived back in the hangar bay. And while she had hoped that helping Klath unload the cargo would be a welcome break from the awkwardness of dinner, Ronek had ensured she had just ended up with a slightly different type of awkwardness.

    “I apologise for Ronek’s candour,” T’Prin offered as she descended the ramp with a crate of her own, “The younger members of our crew tend to get rather sidetracked with everything is.”

    No matter how many times she heard a Vulcan say the word ‘cool’, it didn’t get any less strange. But after her experience at dinner, she decided to keep that particular observation to herself.

    “Nothing wrong with being proud of what we’re building here,” Ronek shot back, with a slight edge of irritation in his voice.

    Natasha left the Vulcans to their discussion and headed back up the ramp. She found Klath in the cargo bay assessing the remaining tritanium sheets, and glanced back to make sure that Ronek and T’Prin were still suitably distracted by each other.

    “What do you think?” she said simply. She knew that she wouldn’t need to expand her question any further for the Klingon’s benefit.

    “I do not like this,” he admitted freely

    Despite her own worries rattling around inside of her, she had to admit that she found the Klingon’s candid response settling.

    In fact, one of the other reasons she’d volunteered for this task was to spend time with him. He was the one member of the Bounty’s crew that she had struggled to connect with so far, and while there had been a softening to the edges of their relationship recently, she still wanted to do more to build a friendship.

    Back in her cabin, her unfinished project remained. She had spent time here and there combing through the records of the USS Navajo’s dead crew, searching for the face of the ensign that still haunted her dreams. The man she had left to die.

    But with progress on that task proving slower than she had hoped, she felt like she needed all the friendships she needed right now. Even a friendship with a grumpy, often monosyllabic Klingon.

    Klath, for his part, wasn’t worried about anything quite so personal. He was more concerned about the tactical disadvantage they were in right now, locked away in the belly of the Tolaris.

    He was also somewhat concerned about the smell. Vulcans or no Vulcans, the Tolaris still smelt like Romulans to him.

    “Me neither,” Natasha muttered back, checking over her shoulder to make sure they were still alone, “There’s about all this. Especially the Vulcans.”

    “The thin one talks a lot,” Klath replied.

    Natasha stifled a smile and shook her head. That wasn’t quite what she meant. “It’s more...I mean, I haven’t known Sunek, or the V’tosh ka’tur for very long, but everyone we’ve met on this ship seems darker somehow.”


    “You don’t see it?” she persisted, “I know they’re still laughing and smiling, but there’s something underneath it. Something twisted. It’s like...they’re all unhappy. Angry, even.”

    Klath didn’t reply. Given his own mood, he felt any comment on that would be hypocritical.

    “It’s...unnerving,” she concluded. Deep down, for possibly the first time in her life, she wished the Bounty had a Betazoid onboard.

    Klath looked down at the remaining tritanium sheets and considered this for a moment.

    “I believe it may be prudent for me to return to the cockpit and find a weapon,” he said eventually, “From a tactical perspective--”

    “As I was saying,” Ronek’s voice echoed up into the cargo bay as he ascended the ramp, interrupting their conversation, “The torpedo launchers really were a challenge to get back online. If this ship really was seized by the Dominion, they took those apart completely.”

    Klath and Natasha shared another wordless glance, conveying their collected frustrations at the fact that the Ronek show was starting up again.

    “Fascinating,” Natasha managed, without meaning it.

    “Well, it makes sense,” he continued as he walked over to them, “After all, they were adversaries in the war. And it’s always important to know the weapons that your adversaries have available to them, don’t you think?”

    He looked directly at Klath as he said this. The Klingon couldn’t help but feel like that had been deliberate. As ever, Ronek was smiling, but as Natasha had noted, Klath now saw that there was something behind the smile.

    They stared at each other for a moment, before Ronek gestured to the tritanium.

    “Do you need some assistance here?”

    Klath glared back as if he had just been personally insulted. All immediate thoughts of returning to the cockpit for a weapon were momentarily forgotten.

    “I am fine,” he replied tersely, reaching down and picking up another of the metal sheets with no little amount of effort.

    As the Klingon staggered back over to the ramp, moving slightly faster than he had before to prove just how little assistance he needed, Natasha stifled a smile and picked up another of the cargo containers, getting back to work for the time being.

    She still felt unsettled, though. Partly from the nagging feeling she couldn’t shake that Ronek and T’Prin were watching their every move like a pair of hawks.

    But also because she couldn’t shift one particular question from her mind.

    It was a question that had first popped up when Sokar had introduced himself as a member of the V’tosh ka’tur and welcomed them onboard the Tolaris.

    And she was worried that it was a question that she didn’t want to know the answer to.

    What does a hippie need with a starship?
  17. Robert Bruce Scott

    Robert Bruce Scott Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jun 18, 2021
    These vulcans ain't hippies. They're posers... Some really good writing here, building the sense of hidden menace.

    Also quite enjoying a busted up romulan warbird.

    Thanks!! rbs
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  18. BountyTrek

    BountyTrek Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 23, 2021
    Part Two (Cont'd)

    The storm was raging all around.

    He stood on the deck of the ship and tried to lean into the wind as it buffeted him, just as another wave crashed over the side of the vessel and drenched the thin tunic he was wearing. He shivered as the full chill of the wind hit his soaking wet form and desperately tried to keep his focus on the task at hand.

    It was a deceptively straightforward task, the same task it had always been. Simply to achieve a state of perfect balance on the deck. Legs slightly apart, arms out to your sides.

    The fact that it was so straightforward was the main reason that the Voroth Sea scenario was the first meditation technique that most Vulcan parents taught their children. Except in the traditional scenario, the sea was calm. Achieving harmony and balance was easy.

    In the midst of the violence of the real Voroth Sea, Sunek could barely stand up, never mind balance.

    Behind him, he heard the main sail of the ship slapping against the mast as the storm whipped it back and forth. He tried to ignore it, wishing for a break in the weather, even though he knew that one wasn’t coming. Because that wasn’t what the Voroth Sea was really like. It was far too violent a place for breaks in the weather.

    And so, as he faced down the impossible, instead of a feeling of inner calm and serenity, Sunek was just annoyed. Very annoyed.

    “Screw it,” he shouted out above the tumult of the swirling wind, “This is dumb!”

    He opened his eyes, blinked a couple of times and refocused on his surroundings.

    He stood in the middle of T’Len’s quarters on the Tolaris, as she watched on from where she sat on the bed in the corner of the room.

    It was a generously sized room, with a bed, sitting area and a dining room with a food replicator. But it was also plain and cold, a lack of personal objects on display anywhere meaning that they may as well just been in some anonymous guest facilities.

    “You know,” he sighed as he rubbed his eyes to help clear his head, “When you said we should go back to your quarters, just the two of us, I was kinda hoping--”

    “You see the lack of logic now?” she asked, standing and walking over to him, “The hypocrisy, that they try to teach the Voroth Sea scenario to every Vulcan child? Don’t you hate it?”

    Sunek’s mind was still fuzzy. He walked over to the dining table at the side of the room and sat down, trying to get his thoughts in order and attempting to hide his continued disappointment that she had brought him back here for a debate about meditation.

    “Well,” he said eventually, “It was definitely easier when I was a kid.”

    She sat down next to him and placed her hand on his. Sunek felt the familiar crackle of electricity, and that calmed him more than any peaceful meditation technique ever could.

    “It was Sokar that helped me to understand,” she said, “Helped me to practice that form of meditating.”

    “You really do that every day? Imagine yourself in the middle of that storm?”

    She nodded. He considered this for a moment, remembering the tempest in his mind.

    “You ever manage to balance?”

    She didn’t answer, but she smiled. Behind her, the door to her quarters opened and Sokar strode in confidently.

    “I hope I’m not disturbing you,” he offered as he walked.

    “Way to knock,” Sunek said with a grin. But Sokar didn’t grin back. He sat down with them, steepling his fingers in front of him.

    “It’s been good to see you, Sunek. T’Len was right. You would make a fine addition to our cause.”

    Sunek stifled a snort. “Your ‘cause’? Ok, who died and made you King of the Maquis--?”

    He stopped himself and looked slightly awkward at his own comment, continuing in a slightly more sheepish tone.

    “I mean...I know they, y’know, all actually died. I wasn’t trying to--Is it still too soon to joke about--?”

    “Is he ready?” Sokar asked T’Len, cutting off Sunek midway though his confused rambling.

    She didn’t reply, but she nodded.

    “Ready for what?” Sunek asked, maintaining his grin but feeling an edge of concern, “Guys, come on, I know you missed a few birthdays, but you really don’t need to throw me a surprise party.”

    Sokar stood and slowly walked over to a set of computer controls on the wall of the quarters. After a moment, music drifted out through speakers hidden somewhere around the room. Sunek didn’t recognise the piece immediately, but it clearly wasn’t designed to be soothing. Harsh percussion backed up by aggressive stringed instruments.

    “Do you remember me telling you about Doctor Sevik?” Sokar asked.

    Sunek blinked a few times in confusion. Did he remember that? He couldn’t be certain. And the cacophonous music wasn’t helping.

    “I...think so?” he managed, “Crazy Vulcan doctor, right?”

    “Something like that,” Sokar replied, smiling without warmth, “I told you about his techniques for purging emotions. About the pain he caused. The mental torture. And I also told you that, one day, I would like to get my revenge on him for all of it. For all of the Vulcans that suffered in his hands.”

    Sunek glanced at T’Len, then back at Sokar, not sure where this was all going. And not entirely sure that he wanted to know.

    “Like, leave a flaming bag of sehlat turds on his doorstep? That kinda thing?”

    The music stepped up in tempo. The harsh chord progression made Sunek flinch involuntarily.

    “It’s a Romulan piece,” Sokar offered, gesturing to the music, “The ship’s library is full of them, as you’d expect. Still, I quite like this one.”

    Sunek was starting to feel a tad claustrophobic. T’Len gripped his hand again. The tingle that went through his body calmed him a tad. But not entirely.

    “The composer’s name was Kolas, the database tells me,” he continued, “A prolific and quite accomplished musician on Romulus a century or so ago. I’ve been through his entire catalogue since we found the Tolaris.”

    “You don’t say?” Sunek offered, failing to disguise his disinterest in Romulan composers, nor his growing concern about the situation he was in.

    “He writes with such passion, such intensity. Makes a change from the Vulcan dirges we were forced to endure as children, don’t you think?”

    The symphony grew louder and angrier. The strings screeched out the final section of the opening sonata. Sunek felt a growing intensity around them in the room that was making him distinctly uncomfortable. T’Len stood and walked behind him, starting to gently massage his shoulders. The tingle of electricity became stronger.

    “But I suppose that’s Vulcans for you, isn’t it,” Sokar continued with a dry chuckle, “What do you expect from a civilisation that thrives on ignoring and repressing their emotions so completely.”

    As he spoke, he started to pace around the table where Sunek sat, disappearing from view behind him before emerging on the other side.

    “Vulcan music is so rigid. So precisely constructed and scrupulously formed. But ultimately, so...empty.”

    The music shifted into an altogether more foreboding second movement. Sokar vanished behind him again on his second lap of the table, as T’Len massaged his upper back.

    Or was it his third lap? Sunek was struggling to keep track.

    “Look,” he managed to get out, “If you’re both angling for a bit of kinky stuff, I’m totally ok with that, but I do insist on some ground rules--”

    “Doctor Sevik was a lot more than just some crazy doctor, Sunek,” Sokar hissed from somewhere behind him.

    A blast from the Romulan horn section pierced the room. Sunek felt a chill run down his spine. He tried to focus, through the music, the massage, the whole atmosphere.

    “He was a revered Vulcan medic, one that my parents sent me to, along with many other Vulcans. Over and over again, for his...groundbreaking treatment.”

    Sokar’s voice positively dripped with anger and bile as he spat out those words. Sunek felt his mouth beginning to dry up.

    The pace of the music picked up, an urgency in the crash of the drums. Sokar disappeared behind him again. On his fourth lap. Or was it his fifth?

    “Guys,” Sunek managed to get out, “Come on now, this is getting a bit weird. Actually, more like a lot weird--”

    “You never experienced it yourself, did you? You have no idea what the pain was like. What I had to endure. What all of his patients had to endure. If only you had, you would understand.”

    The music reached a molto allegro passage. T’Len’s hands reached Sunek’s lower back. Sunek felt a bead of sweat drip down his face.

    “So perhaps,” he heard Sokar whisper, “You need to be shown…”

    Before Sunek could begin to process what he meant by that, he felt T’Len’s hands reach out and grab his arms with a vice-like grip, holding them in place behind him.

    “Hey! What the hell--?”

    Sokar moved back in front of him, staring back at him with an intense look of anger. Sunek tried to writhe away, but T’Len held him firm, seemingly with the strength of ten men.

    The tempo of the music rushed on, faster and faster. A cacophony of strings danced around the horn section. The chords kept threatening to resolve, but never did.

    Sokar reached out towards him with his hands. Sunek’s eyes grew wider as he felt fingers making contact with familiar pressure points across his face.

    “No!” he snapped, now very much in a full-on panic, “Sokar, don’t! Don’t do that--!”

    The music played on. Faster and faster.

    Sunek writhed helplessly. He couldn’t see from where he was sitting, but T’Len had started to cry.

    Sokar opened his mouth and began to speak.

    “My mind to your mind…”

    Sunek screamed.
  19. Robert Bruce Scott

    Robert Bruce Scott Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jun 18, 2021
    Ah - the torturous vulcan mind meld. Too bad Sokar doesn't have some quadropseudoprozadiazomine handy. Not that he could take it, but his companions could certainly use a small dose about now...
    Thanks!! rbs
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  20. BountyTrek

    BountyTrek Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 23, 2021
    Part Two (Cont'd)

    “I’ve got to get me one of those.”

    Jirel grinned and gestured to the centre chair of the Tolaris’s bridge. Though to call it a chair seemed a little too much of an understatement. It was more like a throne, raised above the surrounding stations and consoles to afford whoever sat in it an unobstructed view of the entire bridge.

    Moments earlier, at the third time of asking, the turbolift had finally arrived.

    Rather than finding the whole situation embarrassing, however, Tepal had simply used the extra time to continue his overblown bragging on the subject of the might of the Tolaris. It hadn’t quite been the emperor’s new clothes, but there had been something mildly farcical about the situation.

    The lift had brought them to what Tepal had described as the grand finale of the tour. And as soon as Jirel had seen the chair, he had to begrudgingly admit that for once, he hadn’t been overselling it.

    Next to him, Denella’s focus was still on the relatively poor state of the bridge in general.

    The layout was a traditional enough design, though like so much of the Tolaris the room seemed scaled up to twice the normal size. There were forward helm and navigation stations, tactical and operations to each side and rows of supplementary science and engineering stations down the rear. A huge viewscreen dominated the front of the room.

    Although everything here at least seemed to be working as it should, there were still signs of decay and disrepair everywhere. Flickering displays on consoles, loose wires hanging from the ceiling and open access hatches on the walls. Jirel might have found his dream chair, but Denella was still waiting to be impressed.

    The two forward consoles and the tactical station were currently manned by Vulcans in similar civilian clothing to Tepal, but the rest of the bridge was empty, underlining how low on numbers the Tolaris was.

    The viewscreen itself showed that the ship was at warp. Denella was only able to catch a glimpse of the navigation console over the shoulder of the Vulcan who sat there, but she was sure there was something odd about the course they were following.

    “So,” Tepal said as he looked around the domain in front of him, “This was worth the wait, I’m sure you’ll agree.”

    Denella bit her tongue for the time being, aware that she didn’t want to provoke the emotional Vulcan too many times. Instead, she kept thinking about the navigational readout she had seen. It looked like they were heading somewhere. Somewhere familiar.

    “Can I sit in it?” Jirel asked, gesturing to the centre chair.

    “No,” Tepal replied simply, eliciting a look of childlike disappointment from the Trill.

    “Naw,” Jirel muttered to himself, as the Vulcan paced around the bridge.

    “But, now we have our ship, and our loyal crew, then the galaxy is whatever we want to make of it. Our futures are waiting out there, a chance to find somewhere where we can really thrive. For us, and for Sunek as well.”

    Jirel and Denella glanced at each other, not exactly liking the sound of that.

    “Yeah,” Denella mused in reply, “Not sure all of this is really Sunek’s scene.”

    “Definitely not,” Jirel nodded in agreement, “We’ve been around the whole ship now, and have you seen one bottle of booze?”

    Denella smirked and looked back at Tepal, who categorically wasn’t smiling.

    “Believe what you like,” he replied, “But Sokar can be very persuasive with his people.”

    Jirel felt his defences rise again having heard that for the second time. His people?

    Before he had a chance to press that particular issue any further, however, the bridge’s tactical console chirped out an alert, and the Vulcan female stationed there called out to Tepal.

    “Ronek reports that the cargo has been unloaded,” she said with a minor sense of urgency, “They are in position for stage two.”

    A fresh chill went down Jirel’s spine with that comment. He was well travelled enough through the galaxy to be of the firm belief that nothing good ever came from any sort of situation that claimed to have a stage two.

    “Well,” he said, gesturing to Denella and taking a step backwards towards the turbolift, “Thanks so much for the detailed tour, and the yummy food. But if the cargo’s unloaded, then we should be making tracks. There’s a certain Boslic I need to go have a really long and not especially friendly chat with, y’know?”

    “I’m afraid that might have to wait,” Tepal said simply.

    The Vulcans at the forward helm and navigation stations stood up and flanked Tepal as he stood in front of them. All three of them now held small Romulan disruptor pistols in their hands.

    “Please,” Tepal said, in a voice entirely bereft of any serious concern for their well being, “Don’t resist.”

    The three Vulcans facing them down were all smiling, but these were cruel, twisted smiles. All bereft of joy and happiness. And all eerily similar to each other.

    “What the hell’s going on?” Denella asked.

    “I’m gonna take a wild guess,” Jirel offered, “And say this is called stage two.”

    As the three armed figures glared back at them, something clicked into place for Denella, about the navigational readings. She had recognised it as a course laid in through Federation space. And, if she wasn’t much mistaken, the cloaked Romulan Warbird was heading directly for the middle of it.

    They were heading for Vulcan.


    The single blast of green energy burst out of T’Prin’s disruptor pistol and stopped the marauding form of Klath in his tracks.

    The Klingon emitted a loud growl, a combination of pain and frustration, as he fell to the ground with a heavy thud.

    Natasha gasped in shock as she saw him fall down, but she couldn’t move to help her stricken colleague. The identical disruptor pistol that was pointed squarely at her, this one in the hands of Ronek, made sure of that.

    “Klath!” she shouted out impotently, as the Klingon rolled on the ground.

    He ended up slumped in an almost motionless heap, though she was relieved to be able to make out that he was at least still breathing. She glared at T’Prin in anger.

    “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” she snapped, “We’re just here to deliver your cargo!”

    “You may be here for longer than that,” T’Prin replied simply.

    Natasha balled her fists in frustration, but through her own turmoil, she also thought she detected something in the reaction of the Vulcan woman. A sense that she wasn’t quite as enthused by what she was doing as she was letting on.

    To her side, Klath tried to force himself back to his feet with no little effort. Internally, he cursed the fact that he hadn’t stuck to his instincts and recovered his bat’leth. It might not have been the ideal item to take on a disruptor pistol, but it wouldn’t have been the first time he would have taken on someone armed with an energy weapon wielding his bladed weapon of choice and won.

    But he hadn’t recovered it.

    And, although it may have been entirely instinctive, he had to admit that his decision to immediately charge at T’Prin as soon as he saw her pull out the disruptor pistol may not have been the cleverest of moves, tactically speaking.

    His right arm was in searing pain where the blast had hit, but he still tried to get back to his feet, trying to use the blood lust coursing through his veins to propel him beyond the limitations of his injured body. But it was going to take more effort than even he realised.

    “Let me help him,” Natasha called out to T’Prin, trying to appeal to whatever fleeting moment of doubt she might have seen in the Vulcan’s eyes.

    T’Prin stared back at her, then glanced at Ronek.

    “No tricks,” Natasha persisted, “I promise!”

    The two Vulcans considered this for a moment longer, before T’Prin conceded, gesturing to her that she could move over to the Klingon.

    “No tricks,” the Vulcan woman echoed back to her.

    As she walked, slowly but deliberately, Natasha could feel the pair of disruptors following her across the room. It wasn’t a comforting feeling.

    Still, she consoled herself with the fact that she’d been in far worse situations than this throughout her life. At least one since she had met up with the crew of the Bounty. So she kept her head down and focused on the immediate issue. She crouched down on the ground next to the ailing Klingon and assessed the extent of his injury. It was immediately apparent that it wasn’t good news.

    “I need a medkit,” she said to the Vulcans.

    They glanced at each other again, but this time, T’Prin shook her head. Natasha sighed and returned her attention to the injury.

    The disruptor shot hadn’t hit him squarely on the arm, merely a glancing blow. But it had still been strong enough to burn through a section of his flesh. The smell that filled the air was testament to that, and the ugly wound it had left behind was likely to be a haven for infection unless she treated it soon.

    The only good news that she could see, given her lack of any sort of immediate treatment options was the fact that the searing heat of the blast appeared to have partly cauterised the wound as it had passed through. He was bleeding, but not by a fatal amount.

    Klath was clearly reluctant to have his injuries looked at, especially given how ashamed he was feeling that he had picked them up in the first place. But for his part, he allowed her to check the wound on his arm, because it allowed him to lean in and surreptitiously whisper in her ear, the armed Vulcans none the wiser.

    “Excellent work, doctor,” he growled quietly, “Now, what is your trick?”

    Natasha paused for a second in her improvised examination and looked over at the expectant face of the Klingon warrior. Preparing to disappoint him.

    “Um,” she whispered back, “I was being serious. No tricks. I literally don’t have any tricks.”

    “No tricks?”

    “No tricks,” she replied again, not entirely sure how many other ways she had of getting that particular point across to the rest of the congregation in the hangar bay.

    Klath considered this, his brow thick with sweat as he worked to control his reaction to the pain in his wounded limb.

    “That is regrettable,” he grunted back eventually, “I do not have any tricks either.”

    Natasha turned her head around to regard the two disruptors still trained on them. And the leers of the two Vulcan radicals holding them.

    Definitely not hippies, she mused grimly.

    End of Part Two
    D'Artagnan likes this.