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

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

  1. Robert Bruce Scott

    Robert Bruce Scott Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2021
    And to Vulcan we go... with a shipload of unhappy campers. Thanks! rbs
     
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  2. BountyTrek

    BountyTrek Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2021
    Part Three

    The chair. The chair definitely felt familiar.

    Even though it couldn’t possibly feel familiar, because he was pretty sure he’d never seen it before.

    It was an ungainly piece of furniture that seemed perversely out of place compared to the precise angles and proper order that existed throughout the rest of the meticulous office. A chair that possessed a palpable level of incongruity that he’d never forget seeing. Unless he’d never seen it. Which he didn’t think he had.

    The chair itself consisted of a rough, well worn dark grey fabric base with a metallic back and armrests, complete with thick fabric straps and restraints. He had definitely sat in it before. Even though he almost certainly hadn’t.

    “Tell me,” Doctor Sevik said to him as he sat in the confines of the chair, “Do you believe we will require full restraints during today’s treatment?”

    He felt his body, which may not actually have been his body now he started to think about it, tense up involuntarily. His head, or at least the head attached to the body which might not be his, shook quickly from side to side. Whether that was an appropriate response or not didn’t even cross his mind. He just knew that he didn’t want the restraints.

    Doctor Sevik considered his silent response for a moment from the other side of the room, then raised an eyebrow slightly.

    “Intriguing,” he admitted, seemingly to himself, “A particularly rapid response. But perhaps not an accurate one. Given the pattern of your treatments so far, I recommend that we follow our usual practice for the time being--”

    “No,” he cried out, even though it wasn’t really him talking, unless it was, “Please.”

    His throat, or whoever’s throat it was, felt as arid as Mount Seleya in the dry season.

    “An emotional reply,” Sevik replied simply, as he began to prepare the restraints.

    Doctor Sevik was an aging Vulcan, his severe trademark haircut flecked with grey and his features ravaged with signs of age. His face was impassive, bereft of emotion. He stepped forwards and began to fasten his patient's wrists down with the thick fabric ties attached to the chair.

    He may or may not have been here before, but something inside told him that resistance, at this point in the treatment, was futile.

    Instead, he found himself focusing his attention on the vast mirror that dominated the far wall of the room. The two-way mirror behind which he knew his father (who wasn’t actually his father) would be standing and watching on. Just as he had for all of his past treatments.

    He knew that staring through the mirror wouldn’t accomplish anything, whether his father or not his father was there or not there. If his intention was to try and somehow provoke a sense of guilt for what was about to happen, he knew such a reaction was impossible in one so stoic.

    Still, he had no other possible recourse against what was happening. Nowhere else to turn, no other escape route available. So he stared, in silent protest. Against the man who was forcing him to once again go through the procedure he was pretty sure he’d never gone through.

    Or at least, that was what it felt like was happening, or possibly wasn’t happening. Or did it?

    Doctor Sevik completed his work on the restraints, rendering him completely immobile.

    “The process will be the same as before,” he explained with measured calm, “I believe we are making good progress, and I intend to continue. If you are willing to assist me, it will make the operation significantly smoother.”

    He requested the assistance of his bound and captive subject without a hint of irony. Because as far as Doctor Sevik was concerned, everything he was doing was completely logical.

    As far as the doctor was concerned, the patient was suffering from an affliction. An overdose even. The fact that this was an overdose of emotions, rather than some form of toxin or invasive microbe or other substance, didn’t have any rational impact on the best course of action. Which was to purge the overdose from the body.

    In the chair, he felt the room that he might not have been in tilt around him as Doctor Sevik tapped a set of controls to tilt the chair back. Once it was in an optimal position, he felt the doctor’s hands touch each side of his head. Or whoever’s head this was.

    He squirmed and writhed instinctively, scratching on the worn fabric of the seat, somehow keenly aware of what he was about to experience. Even if he had never experienced it before.

    As far as Doctor Sevik was concerned, this reaction was simply a symptom of the wider affliction, an emotional response born from an overspill of feelings. Therefore, the doctor dismissed it as an irrelevant observation, and calmly sought out the correct pressure points.

    And then he felt the pain. There was no doubt about that.

    Raw agony that pulsed through his flesh, but also a deeper, more transcendental torment. A biting, scalding pain that seemed to violently stab its way into his very subconscious.

    A pain that he knew was going to continue to grow ever stronger, festering and smouldering and blazing inside of him, until Doctor Sevik reached the point where he decided that the treatment was over for today.

    On the other side of the meld, Doctor Sevik calmly and rationally continued his purge, just as he had done countless times before.

    On the other side of the two-way mirror, his father watched on disapassionaly.

    ****************************

    Sunek was still screaming.

    So intense were the emotions he was feeling that it took him a while to realise that Sokar had broken the meld. That he was back in reality, onboard the Tolaris.

    He had no idea how long he had been back for, but he was pretty sure it hadn’t been long. His brow glistened with sweat, and he felt his breathing had quickened. The music had stopped, and the room was momentarily silent.

    Sokar had stepped back and was standing in front of him, while T’Len sat next to him, her arm now wrapped around him supportively.

    His head was a confused flurry of conflicting thoughts, all moving at warp speed as he tried to process them.

    “Now you can begin to understand,” Sokar said simply, breaking the silence.

    Sunek scratched around for some sort of response. He couldn’t be sure, but he felt like he might be crying. He felt T’Len’s arm squeezing him tighter.

    “The first time is always the most difficult,” she whispered to him, “But you will recover. Sokar has shown us all the same thing. We all know how much he suffered.”

    Sunek took a gulp of air. His mouth felt dry. Just as it had in the meld.

    “And now,” Sokar said darkly, as Sunek opened his eyes again, “You will help.”

    Not a question. Because Sokar apparently already knew the answer. It didn’t need to be said. And, for reasons that Sunek couldn’t quite fathom at this point in time, he found himself going along with him entirely, almost on auto-pilot.

    He opened his mouth, and managed to croak out a reply.

    “Wh--What...are we going to do?”

    Sokar stepped over to him and looked deep into his eyes with dark determination.

    “As we speak,” he explained, “The Tolaris is cloaked, and at warp. Six hours ago, we crossed into Federation space. In eight more hours, we’ll have reached Vulcan. Still completely undetected. And then...well, I suspect that the authorities won’t be expecting a fully armed Romulan Warbird to decloak in orbit.”

    He leaned in closer, staring Sunek down and hissing his final words.

    “And then, we will have our revenge against those Vulcans who have wronged us.”

    Sunek listened. But his mind was still a minefield of emotional turmoil and conflicting information. He still couldn’t entirely focus. But he was pretty sure that no Vulcans had wronged him, specifically, as far as he could remember. Or had they?

    He tried to remember who he was. He was Sunek. Sunek the joker. Sunek the clown.

    He also knew right from wrong. Or at least he was pretty sure he did. And everything Sokar was saying definitely seemed wrong to him. But then, so did everything that he had just been shown. The torment and agony of Doctor Sevik’s meld. The pain that he still felt pulsing inside his mind.

    “So, my friend,” Sokar continued, “The one that was so passionate and determined in his youth, you are now ready to join us.”

    Again, not a question.

    Sunek’s mind swirled. He felt lost, adrift, confused. The pain he had experienced, the torture was still fresh in his mind. It had definitely been wrong.

    In the distance, he heard the sound of raging winds and crashing waves of the Voroth Sea.

    And as he stared back at Sokar, he felt something new, something powerful. A single, clear emotion emerging from his inner tumult.

    He felt angry.
     
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  3. Robert Bruce Scott

    Robert Bruce Scott Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2021
    Starting to look like a fairly deep dive to me.. Quite enjoying it - Thanks!! rbs
     
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  4. BountyTrek

    BountyTrek Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2021
    Part Three (Cont'd)

    “Well, I didn’t think you’d actually do what I said!”

    Jirel sighed in exasperation as he looked down at the injured Klingon lying on the bed of their new accommodation aboard the Tolaris.

    It had been roughly an hour since they had all been reunited, but it wasn’t a happy reunion. Instead, they had been marched into the same holding cell in the same brig and simply left there.

    The cell was one of several around the hexagonal brig layout, a gently shimmering forcefield enough to separate them from the outside world. The lights were dimmed, but there was clearly still plenty of power to keep the forcefield running.

    And that was where they had been left. A Trill, an Orion, a human and a very injured Klingon, locked away on a ship of laughing Vulcans.

    “You said no weapons,” Klath managed weakly, as Natasha continued to tend to her reluctant patient’s arm as best she could.

    “You did definitely say that,” she said to the Trill as she worked.

    “I know what I said!” Jirel snapped back at the pair of them as he quickly paced up and down in front of the forcefield, “But you know how it is. Sometimes, when I say ‘no weapons’, I mean...some weapons!”

    “In future,” Klath coughed, “You should make that clearer.”

    Jirel balled his fists up in frustration, now entirely sure that the Klingon was winding him up on purpose, even as he lay injured on the cell’s sole small bed.

    “But--You’re Klath!” he shot back, “You never have no weapons! Even when I specifically say not to bring anything, you’ve got seven unpronounceable knives and a disruptor on you somewhere!”

    “Do you think if I was armed, I would have allowed myself to be captured?”

    Jirel paused in his pacing. He couldn’t find a hole in that bit of Klingon logic.

    “Also, can you please stop harassing my patient?” Natasha chimed in, as she tore another strip of fabric from the sleeve of her top to soak up the excess blood from the improvised bandage she had managed to apply to the wound, having still not been given a proper medkit.

    “I am not a patient,” Klath grunted, in a manner that meant she couldn’t tell if he had been attempting a pun or not.

    “Should have thought about that before you let that Vulcan shoot a hole through your arm,” she countered.

    Klath went to retort, but thought better of it, and allowed her to continue. That’s some progress at least, she thought to herself, even if she definitely couldn’t call it a friendship just yet.

    “Damnit!”

    Denella’s sudden scream filled the confines of the holding cell, and was accompanied by the sound of her head impacting on the underside of the metal bed that Klath was lying on. She clambered out from under the bed and rubbed her head with an annoyed grimace.

    “Any luck?” Jirel asked with a mirthless grin.

    “Oh yeah,” she replied sarcastically, “That’s the noise I always make when I’ve just broken out of a jail cell.”

    She batted away Natasha’s instinctive efforts to check her head for any injury and sighed deeply, calming herself down.

    “I found an air circulation vent down there,” she continued, “Got the hatch off, but there’s nothing there that’s gonna help us. And it’s too narrow for any sort of escape.”

    Jirel leaned back on the wall and looked over at the forcefield. “Any chance you can short that thing out?”

    “Sure, piece of cake,” the Orion woman replied, “I just need access to a supply junction, isolate the power flow and trip the connectors.”

    “Great, now we’re talking!”

    “Course, the Romulans who designed this brig probably realised that’s all I’d need, which is why they built all that stuff on the other side of the big impenetrable forcefield.”

    Jirel stared back at her with a withering glare, not appreciating her roundabout piece of mockery. “Next time, just ‘no’ is fine.”

    Natasha looked up from her work and gestured at the flickering forcefield. “You know, even by our standards, we’re crap out of luck. Half the ship’s falling apart, but that thing’s working like a charm.”

    “I do not believe that is luck,” Klath murmured, “From what we have been told about this ship, it appears that they have been prioritising tactical, offensive and security systems. I suspect that the brig falls into those categories.”

    “I hate to say it, but I got the same feeling,” Denella nodded, “Essential systems, indeed. Kinda like they’re not so much building themselves a flagship as they are a warship.”

    Natasha suppressed a shudder at this. She’d spent too long in the presence of warships over the last few years.

    “Well,” Jirel mused drily, “That sort of thing always ends well, right?”

    As they considered the situation, and how they had still made precisely zero progress with their escape plans, the door to the brig opened. T’Prin walked in, along with a burly Vulcan they hadn’t seen before. Both were armed, while T’Prin carried a simple tray of food.

    “Hey Klath, good news,” Jirel quipped, “More Vulcan food.”

    “Actually,” T’Prin replied curtly, “I am yet to reprogram the replicators on this level. This is Romulan cuisine.”

    Jirel didn’t bother to look around, but he definitely heard a low growl emanating from the direction of the Klingon.

    T’Prin looked over at her colleague and nodded. The burly Vulcan holstered his own disruptor and walked over to the forcefield controls.

    “So, what now?” Jirel asked through the forcefield, “This the part where you talk us through your whole dastardly plan?”

    T’Prin raised an eyebrow at this, keeping her weapon raised. “In a manner of speaking,” she replied.

    It all happened very fast. As the burly Vulcan tapped the appropriate combination into the controls, the forcefield briefly shimmered and died. At the same time, T’Prin dropped the food tray and shot her hand out to the neck of the other Vulcan next to her, administering a deft nerve pinch that rendered him unconscious in an instant.

    As the residents of the brig watched on in surprise, the Vulcan slumped to the ground. T’Prin quickly grabbed the disruptor from his belt and offered it to Jirel.

    “That was unfortunate,” she said simply, “But I did not know the code for the forcefield.”

    She looked up, realising that nobody had taken the disruptor. Most of the Bounty’s crew still stared at her in shock. The only one that was immediately eager to take the weapon was Klath, and his prone state meant that he couldn’t get up to grab it.

    “You should take this,” she offered, not realising she would have to spell it out quite so clearly, “And hurry. We do not have much time.”

    Jirel noted the change in T’Prin’s demeanor. Her smile had gone. In fact, all of her emotions seemed to have gone. She suddenly seemed a lot more, for want of a better word, Vulcan.

    “Um, what the hell?” Denella managed, as Jirel finally took the disruptor.

    “I am not T’Prin,” the Vulcan woman explained, “My name is...classified, for these purposes. But I work for the V’Shar.”

    “The who?”

    “The Vulcan Spooks,” Jirel replied with a wry smile as he checked the disruptor’s power settings.

    Not T’Prin raised an eyebrow at this.

    “An illogical aphorism. The V’Shar are an internal intelligence branch of the Vulcan government. For the last four months I have been involved in infiltrating Sokar and his followers. Unfortunately, things have escalated faster than I was anticipating and I require your...assistance.”

    “Yeah, sorry, but we’re not the heroes you ordered,” Jirel said with a shake of his head, “You want those other guys. Annoyingly friendly? Matching uniforms? Pin badges on their nipples? Way too smug about having evolved beyond the concept of pension plans for a group of people who live in a galaxy that still mostly uses currency?”

    He idly gestured to Natasha, who was giving him her best unimpressed ex-Starfleet glare.

    “She knows what I’m talking about.”

    “It is vital that you cooperate,” Not T’Prin persisted, calmly.

    “Not really. Whatever’s going on here, we’re not--”

    “Oh crap,” Denella piped up, putting the pieces of the puzzle together in her mind, “It’s a warship. And we’re on our way to Vulcan.”

    “We are?” Natasha asked.

    “We are,” Not T’Prin confirmed, “Sokar’s intention is to launch an attack from orbit. They cannot be allowed to succeed. There are eighty-six of Sokar’s loyal followers onboard. I cannot call for backup while the ship is cloaked. Communications are completely locked down. We must get to the cloaking device and disable it immediately.”

    Jirel maintained his unconvinced expression, despite the seriousness of the situation.

    “We must assist,” Klath managed with a groan.

    He tried to stand up from the bed, but fell back down in pain, angrily waving away Natasha’s attempt to help him. Jirel gestured from Not T’Prin to the Klingon.

    “As you can see,” he remarked, “We’re not exactly in fighting shape. Plus, this isn’t our fight.”

    “They have made it our fight, Jirel,” Klath countered, “Only a coward leaves a battle halfway through.”

    The Trill turned and looked at the faces of the rest of his crew, all of whom seemed equally as committed as the Klingon.

    “What? Are you all ganging up on me now?”

    “Klath makes a good point,” Denella shrugged, “Plus we need to find Sunek.”

    “Your pilot,” Not T’Prin nodded, “It is possible that he is part of this now as well. Sokar is quite skilled at manipulation. That is the reason that the V’Shar have been monitoring him for so long.”

    “What sort of manipulation?” Natasha asked.

    “He is in great emotional turmoil,” Not T’Prin continued, “But he has found a way to channel that into others by melding with them. I was able to resist and remain undercover only thanks to my mental training. But members of the V’tosh ka’tur are not as disciplined. Their minds are already in disarray, and Sokar has been able to use that to great effect.”

    “Mind control,” Natasha muttered with a shudder.

    “Not entirely accurate,” the Vulcan woman said with a raised eyebrow, “But an acceptable simplification.”

    “And only the mentally strong can resist,” Klath muttered, a serious look on his face, “Sunek is in great danger.”

    Jirel smiled despite himself, then sighed as he realised he didn’t have a choice.

    “Ok, so, in summary: You’re saying we need to get out of here, fight our way through dozens of angry Vulcan terrorists, rescue our idiot pilot, destroy a Romulan cloaking device and prevent a mentally unstable guy with mind controlling powers from carpet bombing Vulcan, armed with two disruptors and half a Klingon?”

    Natasha shrugged. Not T’Prin raised a second eyebrow. Klath stifled a grimace. Denella just smiled in acceptance.

    “One of our quieter deliveries,” she replied.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2021
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  5. Robert Bruce Scott

    Robert Bruce Scott Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2021
    From spooky vulcans to vulcan spooks - nice twist! Thanks!! rbs
     
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  6. BountyTrek

    BountyTrek Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2021
    Part Three (Cont'd)

    The storm continued to rage.

    The tempest of the Voroth Sea surrounded him, as he stood on the deck of the ship. A saline taste hung in the air from the frothing cauldron of a sea below.

    Sunek was no nearer finding balance in this scene than he had been before. But to some extent, that no longer seemed to matter. Because he now found himself embracing the fury.

    To an extent, this was a little bit troubling. While Sunek didn’t have a lot of time for meditation these days, he knew enough about it from his youth to know that fury wasn’t really supposed to be a big part of any sort of meditation. And yet, here he was.

    Another wave crashed into the ship, sending the deck under his feet pitching upwards. He struggled to keep himself from toppling over, never mind any thoughts of perfect harmony. It was a terrifying experience. But it was also exhilarating. He may have felt angry, but he felt all the stronger for it.

    And yet, as he embraced the chaos all around him, he still found part of himself questioning what he was doing. Deep down, part of him knew that this was wrong. That this wasn’t who he was. Or at least, this wasn’t who he thought he was. Or was it? Sunek decided to push those questions to the back of his mind.

    The deck pitched again. He felt himself falling.

    And then he was back in T’Len’s quarters on the Tolaris. His session of angry meditation brought to an abrupt end.

    “Are you ok?” he heard her ask him from where she sat at the table.

    He didn’t answer immediately. Because he didn’t know the answer. In the end, as he turned around to her, he decided to stick to what he did know.

    “I fell over,” he said simply.

    She smiled gently and gestured for him to join him. A selection of Romulan food lay on the table in front of her. He didn’t recognise any of it, but he sat down and ate a spoonful of something that was either a surprisingly sweet soup or a surprisingly savoury pudding.

    “It happens,” she offered, “But it’s such a potent feeling, isn’t it? To really channel the true nature of the Voroth Sea? The power of the storm? The strength of the thunder?”

    Sunek smirked. It wasn’t like his old smirk. This one was more like the one that the rest of the Tolaris crew favoured. A crueller, darker smirk.

    “Yeah,” he nodded, “Makes me feel…alive.”

    “And you are only at the start of your journey,” T’Len said wistfully, “The feeling only grows and grows the more that Sokar melds with you.”

    Sunek considered this for a moment.

    At the back of his mind, where he had pushed all those questions, there was a tiny voice. A tiny voice that he had decided to christen Old Sunek, but who Old Sunek just knew as Sunek. Whoever the tiny voice was, it was starting to become a serious irritant. Because Old Sunek really didn’t like what was happening.

    But Sunek himself, who Old Sunek had decided to christen New Sunek, but who Sunek now just knew as Sunek, just wanted more. He revelled in the anger, he wanted the rage, he craved the violence.

    “Do you want that?” T’Len asked gently from the other side of the table, as she idly chewed on a piece of Romulan fruit, “Do you want those feelings to grow?”

    Old Sunek didn’t want that, and he made that very clear. Or, at least, he would have made it clear if he could have. But he couldn’t. Because now he lived in the back of his mind.

    New Sunek was in control now. A Sunek born of his first meld with Sokar. A version of himself that was stronger than Old Sunek, thanks to the pain that he had been shown and the anger that he had been given.

    And it was this Sunek, rather than Old Sunek, who stared back at T’Len and nodded.

    ****************************

    “I do not like this.”

    Jirel had a feeling that Klath was going to say something like that. The Klingon was nothing if not predictable.

    “I am a warrior,” he continued, “I do not run away.”

    “Hey, Klath, don’t think of it as running away,” Jirel offered, “Think of it as running...towards...our way out of here.”

    “That is just another form of running away.”

    “Ok, fine. But look at you,” he said, gesturing to the Klingon’s limp, blood-soaked arm, “You need to get that sorted.”

    “I have my other arm.”

    Jirel sighed. They had only made it as far as the corridor outside the brig, where the intention had been to split up. Except Klath wasn’t a fan of the fact that he was being asked to get back to the Bounty with Natasha, rather than join the assault on the cloaking device.

    “Klath,” Denella chimed in, trying to look more understanding and coming at the debate from a more Klingon perspective, “This is the best battle plan. You need medical treatment, and we need someone back on the Bounty to help with our escape.”

    “I do not require medical--” Klath got that far before he growled in pain.

    “Yes you do,” Natasha said from next to the Klingon, “It’s a bad wound, and it’s probably already infected. I’ve done what I can for now, but either we get you treated asap or that other arm of yours is all you’ll have left.”

    Klath stared daggers at her, but she stayed firm, staring back at him. This might set the friendship thing back a few steps, she admitted to herself, but she didn’t flinch.

    “We need to proceed on our mission,” Not T’Prin reminded them, the Vulcan woman growing tired of observing the odd behaviour that was on display in front of her.

    Klath and Natasha continued to stare each other down for a few more moments, before the Klingon finally and reluctantly nodded.

    “Good enough for me,” Natasha said, “We’ll see the rest of you back at the hangar bay.”

    Jirel looked over at Denella and Not T’Prin. The Vulcan woman gestured for them to move down the corridor, then took one final moment to look back at the unhappy Klingon.

    “I believe I should apologise,” she admitted, “I needed to maintain my cover while we were in the hangar bay, but it was not my intention to shoot you.”

    Klath looked down at his injured arm, then back up at the Vulcan.

    “That was not my intention either,” he admitted.

    With that, he turned away, and walked as quickly as he could with Natasha down the corridor. Not T’Prin turned back and led the others in the opposite direction, each of them now holding a disruptor pistol that they had liberated from a nearby weapons locker.

    “The cloaking device is this way,” she said as they moved, “If we can disable it, they will be exposed within Federation space and Sokar will be arrested.”

    “Who knew Sunek’s little cult could be so unfriendly,” Jirel offered as they moved.

    “The V’tosh ka’tur are mostly harmless,” Not T’Prin explained as they turned a corner and proceeded down the next corridor, “Unfortunately, Sokar and his followers are not strictly part of that collective any more. He has taken them down a more...radical path.”

    “You don’t say.”

    “That is why the V’Shar have been monitoring him. But over the last year or so, he has been growing more unhinged, his emotional manipulations have become stronger and more violent, and attracted more and more followers to his group.”

    “There’s something I don’t get,” Denella shot back as they reached another intersection, “Why the hell is he doing any of this?”

    Not T’Prin didn’t reply immediately, which unsettled the Orion woman all over again.

    “There is something else you should know,” the Vulcan woman eventually said instead, “About your friend.”

    “Yeah,” Jirel nodded, “We still need to rescue him while we’re--”

    “It may not be that simple,” she said, interrupting him, “By now it is likely that Sokar has had time to meld with him. If so, it is likely that your friend is under his control.”

    “What are you saying?” Denella pressed.

    “I am saying,” Not T’Prin replied with a tone of complete sincerity, “That if we meet him, he will likely be working for them. It may be necessary to subdue him in order to complete the mission.”

    Jirel and Denella looked at each other grimly. Jirel gestured to the disruptor in his hands. “Take it these things don’t have a stun setting?”

    Denella shook her head.

    But they didn’t have any time for what Not T’Prin was saying to sink in.

    Because then the shooting started.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2021
  7. Robert Bruce Scott

    Robert Bruce Scott Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2021
    Really good pacing. Steady as she goes - you've got a great story here. Thanks!! rbs
     
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  8. BountyTrek

    BountyTrek Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2021
    Part Three (Cont'd)

    His mind was flooded with fresh visions of horror.

    He was back in the same chair that he had never seen, in the same office where he had never been, with the same doctor he had never met. The restraints he had never encountered before were tightly secured around his wrists and ankles, that weren’t his.

    After a moment, he felt the familiar touch of Doctor Sevik’s fingers on his face as he was prepared for another purge. He tried to brace himself this time, having already had some experience of the procedure, but it didn’t help. At all. And deep down, he knew it wouldn’t.

    After all, how do you brace yourself against an emotional purge?

    The pain slammed into him like a sledgehammer. There was no controlling it. Every fibre of his body, from his toes to the tips of his fingers felt like they were ablaze.

    It was an impossible sensation to describe, to have his emotions purged.

    The closest he could have managed would be to imagine what a forest must feel like as a wildfire rips through it, indiscriminately immolating everything in its path and leaving behind nothing but scorched earth.

    Except this was happening to his entire mind. One by one, he felt the emotions burned off from his very soul. First agitation, then fear, then frustration, then delight, joy and love. Each of them in turn were turned to ash by the virtual inferno that coursed through his mind.

    And all that was left behind was pain.

    ****************************

    Sunek lay on the bed of the quarters, panting deeply to recover from the latest meld. He couldn’t remember how many there had been now. Three, or possibly four. As with the others, the pain had been excruciating, but it was worth it for him to feel stronger.

    Or at least, New Sunek felt stronger. Old Sunek felt weaker than he had ever been, displaced further to the back of his thoughts, sent into exile along with all the questions that New Sunek didn’t want to answer.

    Instead, the anger and torment grew and festered inside of him, powering him up like a full hit of stimulants.

    He felt T’Len’s presence next to him, standing over him as he lay and recovered. He could sense Sokar still in the room as well.

    “Is he ok?” he heard T’Len say.

    No, Old Sunek said. No, I’m not ok! Something’s very wrong! Help me!

    But, of course, nobody could hear Old Sunek.

    “I’m way beyond ok,” Sunek said, as he opened his eyes and looked at the two figures in the room with him, “Actually, I’ve never felt better.”

    Liar, said Old Sunek. To nobody.

    He sat up on the bed and breathed in deeply, embracing the swirling emotions in his mind. It didn’t bother New Sunek that said emotions only seemed to be negative ones. There was no happiness left behind by a meld with Sokar, it seemed.

    It didn’t bother New Sunek, but it was definitely bothering Old Sunek.

    “I’m sorry that you have to go through all this,” T’Len said gently, reaching out and taking his hand, “But it is necessary.”

    In the back of his mind, Old Sunek still felt the comforting crackle of electricity as her hand touched his. But New Sunek didn’t feel anything. He wrenched his hand away from hers and jumped out of the bed, smiling his new-found cruel grin.

    “Ugh. You sound like my mom,” he scoffed, without warmth, “Like I said, I feel great.”

    He turned to Sokar, who had taken a seat in order to recover after breaking the meld.

    “You really went through all that?” he asked. Not a question born of concern, or worry for the trauma that Sokar had apparently suffered. More simple morbid curiosity.

    “Every time I went to see Doctor Sevik,” Sokar replied with a tight nod, “Everyone on the Tolaris has now seen the evil that was done to me, and to the others. And you can clearly see why we must have our vengeance.”

    No, Old Sunek screamed from somewhere, this is all wrong!

    Old Sunek tried to convey this to New Sunek. Tried to help him remember the crew of the Bounty, his old demeanour, anything. But New Sunek wasn’t listening. There was something in the way. An impenetrable wall of anger.

    “Yep,” he nodded, “I definitely understand.”

    Sokar’s strained face creased into a dark grin of his own. One of satisfaction at his impending victory. He knew that they were now less than five hours from Vulcan, still under cloak.

    His moment of contentment was rudely interrupted by the chirp of the comms panel on the wall of T’Len’s quarters. He tried not to let any sign of irritation show as he walked over and tapped the panel.

    “What?” he barked, “I asked for no interruptions!”

    “My apologies,” the voice of Tepal came back over the link, sounding distinctly more angry than apologetic, “But we have a problem…”

    ****************************

    “We need to go down.”

    “I’m telling you, we need to go up!”

    The conversation, such that it was, had been going around in circles for some time now, with neither party willing to back down. Klath and Natasha stood in a corridor of the Tolaris, either side of a detailed display of the ship’s deck layout on a wall in front of them.

    Tasked with returning to the Bounty, they had stumbled into their challenge, with Natasha paying more attention to supporting the injured Klingon than she had been to where they were going, while Klath bullishly continued to walk without stopping to check his bearings. Because Klingons don’t ask for directions.

    It was only when they found themselves outside the brig they had just broken out of, having done nothing but completed a circuitous route back to where they started that they had both reluctantly admitted it might be a good idea to figure out where they were supposed to be going.

    And that was when the argument had started.

    “Look,” Natasha said in frustration, pointing at the deck diagram, “We’re here, and we need to get to the hangar bay here, so we need to go up!”

    “Why would you think we are here?” Klath asked, gesturing to where she was pointing.

    “Because that’s the brig!”

    The burly Klingon shook his head and used his one good arm to point to an entirely different part of the diagram on the front section of the Warbird. “No,” he boomed out, “This is the brig.”

    “Why would you think that’s the brig?” Natasha scoffed, “There’s clearly no way that’s the--”

    She paused mid-rant, as she actually saw where the Klingon’s thick finger was pointing.

    “Oh. That’s the brig.”

    “I am aware of that,” Klath replied, with a note of smugness in his tone, “Deck 6. So, we go down.”

    Natasha shook her head and pointed back to where she had first indicated, determined that she was still right. “Ok, but...this is also the brig. On deck 47.”

    She quickly scanned around the rest of the diagram, pointing around as she did so.

    “And...here’s another brig on deck 14. And there’s another one on deck 25--What the hell? What kind of stupid ship has four brigs?”

    “A Romulan one,” Klath grunted darkly.

    Natasha forced a smile and looked back at the map, seeing what she was pretty sure was a fifth brig nestled on deck 59 and considering their options.

    “Ok, so, we need to look around for deck markings, signs, anything to figure out what deck we’re on, then we can narrow down which brig this is, and--”

    Klath silenced her with a raised finger. He pointed back down the corridor.

    The sound of footsteps. And they were getting closer.

    She grabbed Klath’s good arm and tried to drag him away, in the opposite direction to the footfalls. Although Klath resisted for a moment, presumably wanting to take on whoever was approaching rather than beat a retreat, he reluctantly acquiesced to her move.

    As they reached the next intersection, they spied a turbolift door and raced over to it, calling the lift as the footsteps got nearer. They stepped inside the lift as it arrived and Natasha allowed herself a sigh of relief as the doors closed.

    “Ok,” she said eventually, “Now we just need to go up--”

    “Down!” Klath growled.

    They stared each other down for a moment, preparing to launch back into their endless argument. It was Natasha who realised first, smiling in mild embarrassment.

    “Main hangar bay,” she called out, as Klath’s face dawned in his own moment of realisation. A second later, the machinery whirred into life, as the lift whisked them to their chosen destination.

    Natasha looked over at the Klingon.

    “I won’t tell anyone if you don’t.”
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2021
  9. Robert Bruce Scott

    Robert Bruce Scott Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2021
    Nice touch of humor with the turbo lift - Always a good idea to intercut drama with humor. Quite enjoying the old/new Sunek debate.

    Thanks!! rbs
     
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  10. BountyTrek

    BountyTrek Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2021
    Part Three (Cont'd)

    “Why the hell did we split up?”

    The latest volley of disruptor fire whizzed past Jirel’s head as the three figures raced down the corridor, leaving a series of gently smoking streaks on the wall behind him, and adding an extra few items to the Tolaris’s repair schedule in the process.

    “I’m serious,” the Trill continued as he fired off a few shots of his own, “That’s, like, the first rule of how to get everyone killed!”

    They reached the cover of the next intersection and paused for breath, as Not T’Prin and Denella blindly fired back at their pursuers.

    They had made little progress, with destroying the cloaking device having quickly become a secondary priority to simply staying alive. Their journey through the Tolaris was being dictated more in terms of evading disruptor blasts than getting to their intended destination.

    “There are five of them,” Not T’Prin calmly reported as another burst of weapons fire skimmed past them, “But this disturbance will definitely attract more.”

    She ducked out from behind the cover of the intersection to return fire, as Jirel grimaced and glanced over at Denella.

    “See, this is why I didn’t want us to be the heroes.”

    “I believe there is currently no danger of that,” Not T’Prin offered as a retort as she returned to the temporary sanctity of their cover to check her disruptor’s power levels.

    Jirel managed a full-on double take, as Denella smirked. Was the emotionless Vulcan actually joking with him? He forced himself back into the here and now, and gestured further back down the corridor, shouting above further incoming fire.

    “Feels like it might be a good idea to keep our tactical retreat going.”

    “No arguments here,” Denella shouted back.

    “That may not be possible,” Not T’Prin offered, her voice remaining impassive despite the situation, “I can detect the sound of others approaching from that direction.”

    Jirel couldn’t see or hear anything apart from the ongoing disruptor blasts. But he opted to trust in her more carefully attuned Vulcan hearing.

    “Huh,” he managed, “Crap.”

    “So we’re surrounded,” Denella groaned, “At this point, I’d just like to say: This plan sucked.”

    “Indeed,” Not T’Prin nodded.

    Jirel scanned their immediate vicinity, and suppressed a satisfied smile as he spied a doorway a few paces behind them. Why had nobody else thought of that?

    “New plan,” he announced with confidence, firing off a few covering shots and then making for the doorway, “Follow me!”

    “That serves no logical purpose--”

    He ignored the Vulcan’s comment, as a further flurry of weapons blasts fizzed by. He ducked into a roll and dived through the doors just as they parted, mentally congratulating himself on that fancy little maneuver as he jumped back to his feet.

    Denella and Not T’Prin followed in an altogether more traditional manner moments later, so he opted not to make too much of a public show about his duck and roll. Still, it had been pretty cool.

    “Ok,” he said, as he looked around the room they had entered for the first time, “Now we need to--”

    He paused, as he took in the expanse around him. It was a huge room, filled with bulky metal housings and structures that presumably contained a litany of shipboard systems. The ceiling stretched way above them, the whole area must have spanned at least four decks vertically.

    And, most importantly, there were no obvious exit points, beyond the door they had just entered through.

    “As I was attempting to tell you,” Not T’Prin patiently continued, “I do not see the rational purpose in electing to run into a dead end such as this.”

    Jirel saw Denella give him a slightly smug look at the same time, amused by the Trill’s clear tactical failure despite their situation.

    “Yeah, well,” he replied eventually, trying to save at least some face, “If it was such a bad idea, why did you follow me, hmm?”

    Not T’Prin considered this for a moment, then raised an eyebrow, apparently having failed to locate an answer. Instead, she moved to the control panel next to the door and tapped the controls.

    “I have locked the door with a secure encryption. It will take them some time to decode it.”

    The three figures watched as the bottom right section of the door began to glow and smoke, as the Vulcans on the other side began to cut through the metal.

    “Doesn’t look like they’re interested in decoding it,” Denella muttered mirthlessly.

    “Ok, there’s gotta be something we can use in here,” Jirel said, looking around the expanse of the room, “Some other access point.”

    Not T’Prin assessed the room they had entered.

    “This is a maintenance section for the Warbird’s lower decks,” she explained, gesturing to the metal structures around them, “Air circulation, environmental controls, gravity generators…”

    “No transporter pads then,” Jirel sighed as he looked around.

    “It would not be logical to locate a transporter pad in such a facility.”

    Even as the smell of burnt metal began to fill the room, Jirel looked over at Denella and forced a smile. “See how annoying it’d be if our Vulcan was like that all the time?”

    If Not T’Prin was offended, she disguised it well. Denella gave the room another scan. Then, she pointed at something above their heads. Well above their heads. The others followed her finger to see a long tube running diagonally across the high ceiling of the room, and an access hatch visible where it met the far wall. An accompanying ladder ran down the wall to ground level.

    “Intriguing,” Not T’Prin mused, “That is an access conduit traversing the room. However, it is unlikely that we would be able to climb all the way up there before our pursuers gain access to the room--”

    “Way ahead of you,” Jirel grinned, recalling the items the Vulcan had listed in the room they were in.

    “You can’t be serious,” Denella said with a slightly sickly look, as she came to the same conclusion moments later.

    “Oh, I’m totally serious,” the Trill smiled, pointing his disruptor at a nearby metal structure, “Hold onto your lunch everyone, we’re gonna--”

    “What is your intention behind destroying the air circulator for this deck?” Not T’Prin asked with an entirely logical innocence.

    Denella’s sickly look gave way to one of amusement, as she saw the Trill’s heroic stance wilt a tad.

    “Um,” Jirel managed, gesturing around with his disruptor, “Which one’s the gravity generator?”

    “Ah,” Not T’Prin nodded, “I see.”

    She levelled her weapon at one of the other metal structures. And fired.

    ****************************

    Sokar’s mood was dark enough when they got to the bridge, a combination of the report Tepal had given him and the fact that it had taken him three attempts to summon a turbolift car.

    He burst through the lift doors and stalked over to the tactical console where Tepal was still working, followed by Sunek and T’Len.

    “Report!” he snapped at his equally irritated second in command.

    “I have teams scouring the whole ship for them,” Tepal replied, trying to keep his anger under control in the presence of his leader, “Nothing yet.”

    Sokar growled in frustration, looking past the forward helm station being manned by Ronek to see the stars streaking past. The ship was still cloaked, still at warp, and still on course. At least for now. He tried to use that fact to calm himself down.

    They were so close, three hours away from Vulcan, if that.

    “And you’re sure T’Prin was behind it?” he asked.

    “Yes,” Tepal nodded, “She attacked Levok in the brig, and she has not reported back since.”

    Sokar didn’t reply immediately. But he did make his feelings known by slamming his fist down onto the side of the command chair. Tepal couldn’t resist the opportunity to twist the knife a little.

    “I told you I didn’t trust her.”

    Sokar’s eyes flamed with rage. Tepal had indeed talked to him about T’Prin before. She had been one of his later recruits to the cause, and one of the few he didn’t know from the V’tosh ka’tur. As a result, he had quietly had some concerns of his own. Though apparently not enough.

    “And I cannot pinpoint them on internal sensors,” Tepal continued to twist the knife, “Because you didn’t feel such a system was essential.”

    “Nice operation you’ve got here,” he heard Sunek chime in from behind him, “So glad to be a part of something so professional.”

    It was a joke from Sunek, but not a playful one, like he usually aimed for. This one was far more cruel, designed to annoy and humiliate rather than gently entertain.

    This was very much a New Sunek joke. Not an Old Sunek joke. Sokar’s eyes narrowed further. He forced himself not to rise to that particular bit of bait.

    “Time to Vulcan,” he barked out in the direction of Ronek, who so far had elected against joining in the spirit of minor mutiny being aimed in his leader’s direction.

    “Two hours, fifty three minutes, present speed,” the younger Vulcan replied.

    He whirled back to Tepal, a steely focus back on his face.

    “Are the weapons calibrations complete?”

    “All disruptor arrays are charged and calibrated, torpedo bays are loaded, targeting controls have--”

    Tepal paused in the middle of his smug report, as an alarm chirped out from his console. He checked the details with practiced haste.

    “We have just lost artificial gravity on deck 47!” he reported with urgency, “There are reports of weapons fire in that vicinity.”

    Sokar aimed a second, less well timed punch at the side of the command chair. He was so close to his glory that he could practically taste it. And yet now, it was threatening to fall apart. He whirled around to Sunek, who merely stared back with a twisted sneer.

    “This is all because of your friends?” Sokar spat, ignoring her comment.

    Sunek shrugged, his confident air not shifting despite the palpable tension in the conversation. Old Sunek might have backed off, or tried another joke to disarm the situation. But New Sunek wasn’t that much of a coward.

    “Probably,” he replied, “They’ve broken out of your brig, now you’ve got gunfire and chaos down there. Certainly sounds like them. I assume they’re trying to stop what you’re doing.”

    “They can’t stop me!” Tepal spat out at him with irritation.

    “They probably can,” Sunek retorted, “They’re annoying like that.”

    Sokar stared back at him, but declined to reply. Instead, he stalked over to a storage locker at the rear of the bridge, throwing Tepal a glare as he walked past.

    “Get the backup gravity generators back online down there, now!”

    Tepal looked back defiantly for a moment, not appreciating his tone. But he eventually nodded and started to work. Sokar reached the storage locker and opened it, retrieving three disruptor pistols.

    “I will not allow them to ruin everything I have planned here,” he hissed, “You know so much about your friends, Sunek? You will help me find them.”

    He holstered one of the weapons on his belt and proffered the others out to them. T’Len took one without question. Sunek stared at the other one.

    What the hell are you doing, Old Sunek called out. Don’t you dare pick that thing up!

    But Old Sunek was still behind the wall of anger that had grown inside himself. New Sunek looked down at the stubby green pistol being held out to him.

    For a second, he closed his eyes, and pictured the Voroth Sea. He felt the intensity of the storm, and the pounding waves on the helpless ship. It energised him.

    “Are you going to help me?” Sokar repeated, more urgently.

    No, Old Sunek screamed without being heard, Of course I’m not gonna help you, you psycho!

    Sunek opened his eyes, his dark leer as wide as it had ever been.

    “I thought you’d never ask,” he replied with relish.

    He reached out and took the disruptor pistol, looked at T’Len and nodded. She nodded back. The three of them walked quickly over to the turbolift doors. Sunek’s leer didn’t slip once as he marched on.

    To hunt down his friends.

    End of Part Three
     
  11. Robert Bruce Scott

    Robert Bruce Scott Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2021
    I'm really hoping there's a Gollum/Smeagul moment coming up here... Very fun, quick read.
    Thanks!! rbs
     
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  12. BountyTrek

    BountyTrek Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2021
    Part Four

    “Really? That’s all I get?”

    Jirel scoffed in a not inconsiderable display of offence as he continued to work. To his side, Not T’Prin raised an eyebrow.

    “As I have stated, it was an imaginative solution,” she replied, without taking her eyes off her task.

    Jirel scoffed again and looked over to the other side of the access hatch, where Denella shook her head patiently.

    “Can you believe that?”

    “I can definitely now believe that you’re capable of flirting in literally any situation,” she offered, as she finished unscrewing the bolt in front of her.

    The three of them, now freed from the limiting constraints of gravity, floated at the very top of the four story room, along with anything in the room that hadn’t been secured to the ground. They were clustered around the access hatch to the access conduit that Denella had spotted, quickly working to unscrew the bolts securing it in place.

    “Flirting?” Not T’Prin asked with curiosity, as she detached another bolt and allowed it to float out into the room.

    “Ugh, great,” Jirel sighed, “Now we’ve got to explain flirting to the dispassionate Vulcan.”

    “No,” she replied, “I received adequate training on the subject before I went undercover. It is a popular activity with emotional beings, after all. But I was not aware that was what you were doing.”

    Jirel paused and stared back at the Vulcan, who met his stare with an impassive look. Denella, for her part, stifled an amused chuckle.

    “Funny,” he replied, returning to work on the next bolt.

    “That is not something I am capable of--”

    “Ah, come on,” Jirel continued, “Even though you’ve dropped the whole laughing Vulcan act, you’ve still been joking with us. There’s some emotions in there, I can tell.”

    Not T’Prin considered this for a moment as she worked on the next bolt.

    “Perhaps I have been undercover for too long,” she offered eventually, “It is possible that the strains of maintaining my character, and the intensity of the melds with Sokar have left some residual emotional aftereffects. When I return to Vulcan, I will ensure I correct this aberration.”

    “Isn’t that the problem here?” Denella chimed in, “Seeing that sort of thing as an ‘aberration’?”

    Not T’Prin paused again, but this time she didn’t seem willing to offer an answer. They worked on in silence.

    His plan, such that it was, had at least bought them some time. The work to cut through the door below them seemed to have slowed considerably since the entire deck had gone zero-g.

    “You might have at least let me shoot it,” Jirel muttered eventually, gesturing back down to the distinctly second hand gravity generator below them.

    “If I had let you shoot what you intended to shoot,” she pointed out, “We would be dead from asphyxiation.”

    Denella failed to suppress this chuckle.

    “Yeah,” Jirel said pointedly, “I’d get that aberration corrected, if I were you.”

    “We must make haste,” she continued, as another bolt floated away, “It will not be long before the backup gravity generators come online. And then...”

    She underlined her point by glancing downwards, at the considerable drop back to the ground underneath them, before continuing.

    “Despite the height of the fall, I believe myself and the Orion would survive, with significant injuries. You would not.”

    Jirel fixed her with another unhappy glare. “Just so you know,” he offered dryly, “Your flirting game needs work as well.”

    Denella went to chuckle again, then coughed slightly, suddenly looking a tad more queasy, and less green, than she usually did.

    “You ok?” Jirel asked as his penultimate bolt loosened.

    “You know I don’t like zero gravity,” she muttered as strongly as she could.

    Not T’Prin cocked her ear again to some faraway noise, before she quickly moved onto the final bolt on her side of the panel. “The backup generator is coming online,” she reported, “Hurry.”

    Jirel detached his final bolt, as Not T’Prin and Denella completed their own tasks. They pulled the hatch away from the opening and it joined the bolts in floating away across the room.

    Not T’Prin half clambered and half swam through the hatch, followed by Jirel and Denella. Seconds later, the three of them dropped the short distance to the bottom of the access conduit, picking up nothing more than a bruise or two.

    Behind them, they heard the sound of anything on deck 47 that hadn’t been secured dropping to the floor with a series of loud bangs.

    “Plenty of time,” Denella said mirthlessly.

    Not T’Prin ignored her, crawling onwards through the conduit. “We are not far from the cloaking device,” she called back, “If we hurry.”

    Jirel got into a crawl and followed closely, awkwardly trying to maintain his professionalism and keep his attention on anything other than the Vulcan behind that was now very much dominating his eyeline.

    “I changed my mind,” he called out, “Your flirting game is on point.”

    Ahead of him, Not T’Prin raised an eyebrow.

    ****************************

    The process of cutting through the door to the maintenance room on deck 47 was taking a lot longer than the group of Vulcans had originally planned.

    Firstly there had been the loss of gravity, which had made their efforts considerably more difficult without access to any dedicated zero gravity equipment.

    Secondly, there had been the regaining of gravity, which had not only delayed their work further, but also caused several broken bones when they had all dropped back to the deck without warning.

    It was standard practice on starships to give plenty of warning before restoring gravity, to give everyone plenty of time to brace themselves. But this was not a normal starship, and up on the bridge, Tepal had brought the backup systems online without so much as a five second warning.

    All of which led to a third reason why the task was taking longer than expected. They were all understandably annoyed about reasons one and two, which was having a direct impact on their productivity. One of the disadvantages of embracing your emotions was that it was now very much possible to have a bad day at the office.

    Still, none of them had much time to file any sort of grievance, because almost as soon as they had picked themselves up, Sokar had arrived with Sunek and T’Len to oversee the situation personally. And he hadn’t liked what he had seen. And he was armed.

    So they were now working through the final few sections of the door, twice as fast as before.

    Sunek idly leaned on the corridor wall, spinning his disruptor around in his hand, watching them work without even offering to help.

    “This is stupid, you know,” he offered with a yawn.

    Sokar spun around in annoyance, while even T’Len looked a little bit irritated. Tensions were running high among every Vulcan out in the corridor, it seemed.

    “What is that supposed to mean?” Sokar spat at him.

    Sunek’s sneering grin grew wider, reveling in being able to ratchet up the frustration on the faces of the others by making them wait for his answer.

    Meanwhile, Old Sunek was busy climbing a wall. Specifically, the wall of anger that was keeping him trapped at the back of his own mind.

    He wasn’t physically climbing a wall, he didn’t think. He was pretty sure the thing he was climbing was more of a metaphorical wall.

    His reason for thinking that was surprisingly logical, for Sunek. If he was climbing an actual wall, that sounded like it would take a lot of physical effort. Which was not something that Old Sunek really liked doing. In fact, it was something he actively avoided whenever possible. So, it made sense that any wall he was climbing would be merely metaphorical.

    But then, he found himself thinking, if it was only a metaphorical wall, then how the hell was he climbing it?

    Starting to feel a little bit overwhelmed by the metaphysical conundrum he was at risk of trapping himself in, Old Sunek decided to focus on something less confusing. And continued to either literally or metaphorically climb the wall. At this point, he didn’t care which.

    All the while, New Sunek was smiling cruelly at the other Vulcans in the corridor.

    “So? Are you going to explain why my plan is so stupid?” Sokar spat, tired of waiting for an answer.

    Sunek stood up straight from where he had been leaning on the wall and treated himself to a long, lazy, cat-like stretch.

    “It’s stupid,” he said eventually, waving his disruptor at the door, “Because you’re wasting time trying to get where they are, not where they’re going.”

    “And where are they going?”

    Sunek smirked wider and took off down the corridor, with his disruptor raised. After a moment, Sokar and T’Len followed.

    ****************************

    The access hatch dropped down onto the floor of the corridor, some ten feet below. The three figures followed, one at a time, as quietly as they could manage.

    Pausing for breath, Not T’Prin, Jirel and Denella scanned their immediate surroundings. The Vulcan woman tilted her head curiously, again hearing something in the distance.

    “The cloaking device is close by,” she reported, “But there are more guards on the way. I estimate at least six sets of footsteps.”

    Jirel went to reply, but Denella got there before him.

    “I’ll deal with them,” she said, checking her disruptor’s power levels, and ignoring Jirel’s grimace.

    “Denella--”

    “Don’t worry. You focus on the sabotage thing while I give this lot the runaround, and we’ll meet up back at the Bounty, ok?”

    Jirel still looked concerned, but he knew his engineer could handle it, and then some. He reluctantly nodded.

    “Catch you on the other side,” the Orion woman smiled, before she took off down the corridor with her weapon drawn. After a moment, she was out of sight.

    Jirel watched her go with a sigh, suddenly feeling very alone. He turned back to Not T’Prin.

    “Right then, let’s go break a cloaking device, I guess? I’m assuming it’s as easy as it sounds?”

    She led him around the corner and through the first door they came to on the right.

    It was a wide room, somewhat similar to the engineering level of a starship. Control panels covered in Romulan text dotted the walls, but it was the gently humming cylindrical device in the centre of the room which immediately demanded their attention.

    Not T’Prin immediately holstered her disruptor and approached it.

    “This is it,” she nodded, “Now we just need to--”

    “I wouldn’t,” an eerily familiar voice shot back.

    Jirel whirled around to see Sunek standing in a doorway on the other side of the room. He was soon joined by Sokar and T’Len. All three of them had disruptors trained on them.

    But it wasn’t so much the weapons that surprised Jirel, it was Sunek himself.

    His twisted leer was without any of his friend’s usual warmth. His entire demeanour seemed darker, angrier somehow. Jirel couldn’t help but suppress a gasp.

    “Told you they'd be here,” Sunek continued, “Now, how about you two both just surrender to my pal Sokar here. Cos it’d be a real bummer to have to shoot you.”

    Jirel looked back at Sunek’s leer. And found himself doubting whether he really meant that.
     
  13. Robert Bruce Scott

    Robert Bruce Scott Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2021
    Nothing like being trapped by Mr. Stockholm Syndrome... Cool 0-grav scene. Also enjoying Not Turin's flirting.

    Thanks!! rbs
     
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  14. BountyTrek

    BountyTrek Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2021
    Part Four (Cont'd)

    “Well,” Natasha managed, as the bulky crate next to them exploded into fragments from the latest incoming disruptor blast, “At least we found the hangar bay.”

    The turbolift had indeed deposited them near enough to the hangar bay, with the Bounty sitting right where they had left it. Unfortunately, it seemed that once word got out about their escape, it hadn’t been much of a leap for the Tolaris’s crew to realise they might head there at some point.

    Hence why they had been greeted by half a dozen heavily armed Vulcans, and were now pinned down behind a pile of cargo crates.

    “Return fire!” Klath growled from her side.

    She grimaced and fired out a few more shots as best she could, remembering her Starfleet training and focusing on maintaining a defensive posture. Even though she was a doctor, she was still more than capable of fighting. The war had seen to that. The old maxim of ‘First, do no harm’ tended to go out of the window when you started getting shot at.

    To her side, Klath was still unarmed, both in the physical sense and the weapon-based sense, and feeling more than a little useless. He gripped onto his injured limb and tried to keep his focus on their battle tactics.

    “This is not a particularly advantageous position,” he grumbled, as another disruptor blast struck the wall behind his head.

    Natasha fired off a few more hopeless shots of her own and checked the pistol. The power levels of the disruptor were dropping fast. Klath ducked his head out around the other side of the crate and scanned the rest of the hangar bay, before ducking back as more fire came in.

    “They are flanking us,” he reported, “On both sides. Make your shots count!”

    “I’m trying!” she shouted back in frustration over the sound of further incoming fire.

    “You must try harder.”

    “You’re a terrible instructor, you know that? Any other helpful comments?”

    Klath considered their situation for a moment, as the weapons fire got closer and closer. “It is possible,” he said eventually, “That today is a good day to die.”

    “You also suck at motivation!”

    “I do not see another option,” the Klingon replied with a grimace.

    She sighed and checked the disruptor’s power cells again. She didn’t have many shots left. And by the sounds of it, their opponents did. Two more disruptor blasts passed over their heads, leaving scorch marks on the wall behind them.

    She didn’t have a plan either. Oddly enough, Starfleet offered very little training for how to deal with a gang of psychotic armed Vulcans. In fact, that was pretty much the only group of galactic inhabitants Starfleet hadn’t found itself picking a fight with recently.

    She wondered if this was how her life was destined to end. All in pursuit of trying to strike up a friendship with an injured Klingon. How stupid could she be?

    Then, something came to her. She realised exactly how stupid she could be. She glanced behind them and saw another cargo container.

    “Klath,” she shouted back to the Klingon, “How close are they?”

    Klath ducked out to check. “Thirty meters, and still advancing,” he reported, “On both sides.”

    “Ok,” she nodded, “I’ve got a plan. But it’s kinda stupid, and a bit suicidal. Although, I assume from your previous comments that you don’t have much of an issue with that?”

    Klath didn’t respond. Over to his left, another cargo container exploded under weapons fire, showering them both with fiery shards of debris. Natasha ducked further down, then gestured to the mostly unblemished container almost directly behind them.

    “Think you can make a run for that?” she shouted.

    Klath checked where she was indicating. The additional cover was a good twenty metres away across the deck of the hangar bay, with no obvious additional cover between them and it. It also didn’t seem to offer any significant strategic improvement on their current suboptimal location.

    “I believe so,” he replied, “What is your plan?”

    Another disruptor blast whizzed by. They were almost on them.

    She opened the casing of her disruptor and fiddled with the settings, quickly figuring out how to achieve what she was aiming for despite the unfamiliar Romulan design. The pistol’s muzzle began to glow bright green. Something that Klath immediately recognised.

    “You have just--!”

    “I know,” she shouted out, “Let’s go!”

    They raced out from behind their cover, towards the container that was twenty metres away. Keeping low and fast, even as their adversaries trained their weapons on their moving forms.

    She ducked an incoming disruptor shot. Fifteen metres to go. Maybe less.

    She mentally braced herself for the inevitable disruptor blast to her side that would fell her, but two more shots whizzed past without hitting, the Vulcans apparently struggling to aim amidst the chaos around them.

    She didn’t even know if Klath was behind her, or alongside, or if he had been cut down by a disruptor shot. But she kept moving, focusing on her destination.

    Ten metres.

    Behind her, the Vulcans were upon their original position, having closed up in a pincer movement. But they didn’t move away from their former cover, merely swivelled around to try and get a clear shot at them. Which meant they were far too close to the disruptor pistol that she had just rigged to overload.

    Five metres.

    She only hoped that they weren’t too close as well. Even if they made it to their cover, it wasn’t exactly a safe distance from this sort of detonation. She dived forwards at the last second, just as the disruptor exploded.

    And then everything went dark.

    ****************************

    “Sunek, what the hell?”

    “Come on, Jirel,” Sunek shrugged, his dark leer remaining firmly in place, “If you’re really being honest, you can’t say you never expected our friendship to end with one of us pointing a disruptor at the other one, hmm?”

    Jirel kept his response calm, ignoring the feeling that deep down, he felt his pilot may have a point.

    “Guess I never factored in the bit about you committing genocide.”

    Sunek’s leer vanished, now replaced by a look of rage. He kept the weapon pointed squarely at Jirel’s chest. Sokar stepped over to the pair of them, and relieved them of their own disruptors.

    “I’m very disappointed in you, T’Prin,” he told her calmly, “Who are you working for? Starfleet Intelligence?”

    “The V’Shar,” she replied, with an equal amount of calm.

    “Hmm,” Sokar shuddered, “Even worse.”

    Jirel’s focus was still on Sunek. His long-time friend, who now looked so strangely different.

    “Sunek, what the hell did he do to you?”

    Sunek went to answer, but it was T’Len who got there first, her own weapon pointed determinedly at the Trill as well.

    “He has made him stronger!” she shouted, standing by her sometime husband, “We are all stronger for knowing Sokar.”

    “And to think you told me this wasn’t a cult,” Jirel replied with heavy sarcasm.

    “Psh, this isn’t the V’tosh ka’tur, Jirel,” Sunek mocked, “That was just some lame little wannabe activist movement. Surely even you can see that this is way bigger than that.”

    “You must listen, Sunek,” Not T’Prin said, her focus still on the cloaking device in the middle of the group, “Your actions are not your own. Sokar has controlled you with his melds--”

    “Quiet!” Sokar snapped, “I’m tired of everyone meddling in my plans. Nobody will stop me from having my revenge on Doctor Sevik!”

    Sunek and T’Len nodded along firmly at this. Not T’Prin raised an eyebrow.

    “Doctor Sevik is dead.”

    Somewhere, deep inside Sunek’s mind, near the top of a wall, Old Sunek gasped.

    What? Old Sunek said.

    “What?” New Sunek echoed out, before he realised what he was saying.

    “Ain’t that a bitch?” Jirel said, seizing on the look of confusion on the Vulcan’s face, “You’ve come all this way, and you’re not even gonna carpet bomb the right guy?”

    Sunek stared blankly back at the V’Shar agent, his trigger finger faltering as his disruptor slipped to his side. If it wasn’t for the identical one that T’Len still had pointed at him, Jirel might have allowed him to relax a tad.

    “No,” he managed, “Cos...Sokar showed me--I mean, I saw--”

    “I know what you saw. Sokar also melded with me. But Doctor Sevik died many years ago,” Not T’Prin continued, “In exile, and in disgrace. It is deeply unfortunate what happened to you, Sokar. But this is not the answer. This attack cannot be allowed to--”

    “This is all lies! V’shar lies!” Sokar spat.

    “It is the truth,” she persisted, “His methods were never medically approved by the authorities, and as soon as the full details of his treatments became a matter of public knowledge, he was removed from--”

    Sokar didn’t want to hear any more. He fired.

    The dirty green disruptor blast slammed squarely into Not T’Prin’s stomach, and for a moment the stoic Vulcan woman’s face displayed a genuine emotion. A look of shock.

    The energy of the blast was enough to knock her back into Jirel’s equally aghast arms. The pair of them collapsed onto the floor in what felt like slow motion. Jirel stared in horror at Not T’Prin’s crumpled form. No longer caring where the weapons in the room were pointing.

    “Hey, hey, don’t worry,” he managed, “It’s--It’s gonna be ok…”

    Looking down at the green blood soaking her top, he knew he was lying. He wasn’t a doctor, but he knew that the prognosis wasn’t good.

    “I was...unsuccessful,” she managed to croak, “But I hope you will have the chance to be a hero…”

    The last remnants of life drained from her body. Jirel gently rested her down on the ground, then stared up at the armed Vulcans with primal anguish.

    “This is your guy, Sunek?” he snarled at his friend, “This is the guy you wanna follow?”

    Jirel wasn’t sure if he was expecting an answer. Either way, he didn’t get one. Because as soon as he had heard Not T’Prin’s comments, and seen Sokar’s violent retaliation, Sunek had vanished.

    Not physically. Physically he was still in the room. But mentally, he was somewhere else.

    He was on the deck of a sailing ship. On the Voroth Sea.

    And he wasn’t alone.

    “Hello,” said Old Sunek.
     
    tax1234 likes this.
  15. Robert Bruce Scott

    Robert Bruce Scott Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2021
    What a moment to have a personality crisis... Really good, quick moving story here - Thanks!! rbs
     
    BountyTrek likes this.
  16. BountyTrek

    BountyTrek Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2021
    Part Four (Cont'd)

    The storm was blowing all around as New Sunek stared across the wooden deck, where Old Sunek stared back at him. If either was unnerved by what was happening, they didn’t let it show.

    “Talking to yourself, Sunek?” New Sunek snorted, “How many signs of madness is that now?”

    “Yeah, fair enough, this is a bit weird,” Old Sunek begrudgingly agreed, “But I can take weird. I like weird. I can definitely live with weird.”

    A booming thunderclap rang out above the ship. New Sunek looked around through the swirling gale and the spray from the writhing sea.

    “So, what the hell is all this? You want to practice meditating in the middle of this storm again?”

    “What storm?”

    Old Sunek looked back at his doppelganger in confusion, seeing nothing but the peaceful tranquility of the Voroth Sea. From the dull, boring meditation technique from his youth.

    A ferocious gust of wind blew across the deck in front of New Sunek, drenching his unruly mop of hair and whipping it around in the cataclysm.

    “Never mind,” New Sunek grimaced, “You’ve got my attention, now what?”

    “I want my mind back. Cos, honestly, you kinda suck.”

    The deck pitched up as the boat crested another wave and slammed down on the other side. Or at least, it did for one of them. For the other, it laboured in the stillness.

    “Psh,” New Sunek retorted, “You’ve seen what Doctor Sevik did. Why we need revenge--”

    “I’ve seen what Sokar showed you. I mean, showed me--Showed us. Whatever. But I’ve also just seen him straight up murder an unarmed woman, so I kinda think it might be a good idea to get a second opinion on some of this stuff, y’know?”

    “Psh. She was a V’Shar agent! She was just trying to stop us.”

    “Of course she was! And she also said Doctor Sevik is dead!”

    “Lies!”

    Another flash of lightning illuminated New Sunek’s fiery eyes. Old Sunek stood firm in the placid sunshine, not seeing anything of the violent storm that swirled and crashed above his counterpart’s head.

    “Shouldn’t we at least check that? And besides, whether he’s alive or dead, he’s just one crazy doctor! How is razing half of our homeworld from orbit the right idea? Don’t get me wrong, I hate the place as much as the next laughing Vulcan, but this isn’t the answer. And all this definitely isn’t you. I mean, me. I mean--”

    “You know,” New Sunek growled, trying to shut himself up as another burst of lightning flared in the sky, “It’s true what they say about you, Sunek. You really are tiresome.”

    “See, that’s why there’s no future for you inside my head. I’d never use the word ‘tiresome’.”

    “You just did.”

    Satisfied he’d won their latest bout of verbal sparring, New Sunek didn’t wait for his duplicate to formulate another retort. He charged across the ship. He charged at himself. Sunek and Sunek collided, and crashed down to the wooden deck below them.

    They grappled together, one slipping and sliding across the rain-soaked deck, the other one basking in harsh sunlight.

    As they broke apart and got to their feet, New Sunek aimed a punch at Old Sunek, who anticipated it, because that’s how he would have aimed a punch if he was in New Sunek’s position. He dodged it and fired off a punch of his own, which New Sunek evaded with equal ease.

    The scuffle went on like that for some time, each version of Sunek predicting the other’s attack, and dodging or parrying it. Neither able to lay a finger on the other. A literal stalemate.

    “This is ridiculous,” New Sunek shouted over the cacophony on his version of the boat, as he evaded a swing of his opponent’s left hook.

    “I dunno,” Old Sunek grinned, squinting through the bright sunshine hitting his half of proceedings and spinning away from a low attempted kick from his adversary, “I’m kinda enjoying myself.”

    They grappled some more, as a wave crashed onto the deck, soaking New Sunek in warm saline water. In close quarters, both aimed a flurry of punches at each other's midriffs, connecting solidly and firmly each time.

    But even though they were finally landing, each punch still worked to cancel the other out in a different way. As this phase of the fight went on, they both tired at exactly the same time and were both forced to back away in order to get their respective breaths back.

    New Sunek grimaced, then tried to channel more of his anger and rage into proceedings, the power that Old Sunek had no access to, to overwhelm him.

    His sneer was back. Even in the storm. Or perhaps because of it. Feeding off the anarchy of the tempest.

    “You’ve gotta see this is all wrong,” Old Sunek managed to get out, still panting deeply from the exertion, “What Sokar’s doing? And if that wacko doctor really is dead, then--”

    “You saw how much Sokar suffered,” New Sunek countered, “All of Vulcan is complicit in Sevik’s actions! They’ve always had it in for anyone who dared to explore their emotions, to deviate from the norm. You know that as well as anyone!”

    Sunek recalled his own childhood. The work that his parents had put in to helping him control and repress his emotions. Counsellors, therapists, meditation. All to ‘fix’ his pesky emotions.

    Granted, they had never done anything anywhere near as extreme as what Doctor Sevik did to Sokar. But he still knew what it was like to be pitied, to be ostracised or made to feel like an outcast just because of the way that he felt. Or the fact that he felt at all.

    It had been a miserable time for him. Until he had found the V’tosh ka’tur. Until he had found Sokar, and the others.

    And as he got caught up in recalling his past, he faltered. And New Sunek didn’t.

    Filled with the cyclone’s violence, he rushed forwards and slammed Sunek back against the edge of the boat, the low-hanging wooden rail around the edge of the deck now all that existed between them and the ocean.

    Old Sunek wheezed as the air was knocked completely out of him. Now confident he was on top in the fight, New Sunek squeezed harder, sandwiching Old Sunek between himself and the rail and constricting his adversary’s body beneath his own.

    “Still enjoying yourself?” New Sunek hissed, as he felt his counterpart weaken.

    Old Sunek felt his vision start to blur around the edges. He didn’t know if he could die, because he was no longer really sure what he was, or where he was, or how he was, metaphysically speaking, but he definitely felt as though his consciousness was fading.

    “You’re--We’re not a killer,” he strained to choke out.

    “You don’t know until you’ve tried,” New Sunek shot back with his cruel grin.

    Old Sunek stared back at his own face, a twisted version of his reality. And as his vision began to fade, he saw something in his counterpart’s eye. A reflection of a raging storm.

    And then he realised where New Sunek was. And what he had to do.

    With his final few ounces of strength, he grabbed New Sunek around the waist, and forced his own body up, allowing New Sunek’s crushing weight to carry them both up and over the rail.

    They both tumbled overboard, into the Voroth Sea.

    One into a frothing, merciless tumult, the other into clear, pure serenity.

    ****************************

    Even at the best of times, Jirel had to admit that didn’t have much of an idea what was really going on in Sunek’s head.

    But as he stared back at his unmoving pilot on this occasion, he really would never have guessed the inner turmoil that was going on inside the Vulcan. Nobody in the room could.

    The fight between himself and himself may have gone on for some time, but to everyone else present around the Tolaris’s cloaking device, it looked like he was just momentarily daydreaming.

    “Sunek!” Sokar snapped eventually.

    Sunek was roused from wherever he had been. He shook his head to try and refocus, blinking a few times to clear his head.

    “We cannot let this delay us any longer,” Sokar continued, pointing at Jirel, “Now...kill him.”

    Sunek looked down at where Jirel sat crouched next to the body of Not T’Prin. The unarmed Trill stared back at him with fear, but also defiance.

    “Sunek, come on now, you’re not really gonna…”

    Sunek felt confused. He felt strange. He felt like he was gasping for air, like he was drowning. He felt everything and nothing.

    He looked down at the disruptor pistol in his hand.

    “I said, kill him!” Sokar repeated, more angrily.

    “Sunek,” Jirel tried again, the fear overtaking the defiance, “Please, don’t do this--”

    Sunek didn’t listen. He lifted the disruptor.

    And he fired.
     
  17. Robert Bruce Scott

    Robert Bruce Scott Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2021
    Nice cliffhanger... And a good Gollum/Smeagul scene... Thanks!! rbs
     
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  18. BountyTrek

    BountyTrek Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2021
    Part Four (Cont'd)

    Slowly, but surely, the darkness began to resolve in front of her eyes.

    She began to make out shapes. The blurry vista in front of her coalesced into a landscape of eerily familiar patterns and surroundings. And then it all clicked together in her head. She was staring at the grey metal ceiling of the small medical bay onboard the Bounty.

    Seconds later, she saw the hulking form of Klath appear, towering over her where she lay with the closest a Klingon could get to a look of concern on his face.

    “You are awake,” he stated simply, his booming voice betraying significantly less concern than his face did.

    “Did we…” she managed to croak.

    “We did,” he replied with a nod, “We are back onboard the Bounty. The Vulcans were neutralised. It was a...fine plan.”

    The Klingon’s features softened slightly further as he spoke. Natasha mustered a smile, partly of pride and partly of relief.

    She couldn’t remember anything after she dived for their cover, and certainly couldn’t remember how she had ended up back in the Bounty’s medical bay. But however Klath had got her here, she never thought she’d be so glad to see the place.

    “Good job it did work,” she pointed out, “Cos if it didn’t, I blew up our only gun.”

    She tried to get up from the bed, and felt a searing pain in her back, realising for the first time the extent of her injuries. Although she might have survived the explosion from the disruptor pistol, it definitely felt like she had caught a decent amount of the shrapnel.

    “You should rest,” Klath pointed out.

    She winced, but didn’t lie down, continuing the struggle to get back to her feet despite the pain she was feeling. “We need to help the others,” she persisted.

    “I will help them,” he replied firmly, gesturing for her to lie back down on the bed with a stubby finger, “You are injured.”

    She mustered a knowing smile in the Klingon’s direction as she got herself in a position to sit up and swing her feet over the side of the bed.

    “Never stopped you, did it?”

    Klath went to retort, then immediately stopped himself. Another look spread across his face, as he looked at the human doctor, struggling on despite her injuries, in a new light. A look of grudging respect. The corners of his mouth curled up into the beginnings of a smile, and he nodded, taking her arm and helping her off the bed.

    She regretted her decision almost immediately. As her feet hit the ground, a shockwave of pain travelled up her back, hitting every cut and wound on the way. But she’d committed to it now, so she simply gritted her teeth and continued on as if it wasn’t that much of a big deal.

    “I guess,” she grimaced as they slowly hobbled towards the door, “Today wasn’t a good day to die after all.”

    “It would appear not--”

    Klath paused, as they both heard the footsteps approaching.

    Natasha mentally took back her last comment, and braced for whatever fresh challenge was about to present itself. She doubly braced when she saw the disruptor.

    But she relaxed when she saw who was holding it.

    “Well, you two look like you’ve had fun,” Denella smiled.

    ****************************

    Jirel closed his eyes.

    It was an instinctive reaction, and also a completely pointless one. It’s not like closing his eyes would stop the disruptor blast. Disruptors could still kill you even if you weren’t looking directly at them.

    And yet, despite all of that, he didn’t feel the blast from the weapon slamming home into his body at all. Instead, he heard a loud explosion. And a scream of anger.

    And then he felt someone grab his arm.

    He opened his eyes to see Sunek standing over him. A far more familiar looking grin plastered across his face. A grin that looked much more like the old Sunek he knew. One without the dark edge of earlier.

    “I’m back, baby,” he announced.

    Jirel didn’t have time to even begin to contemplate the metaphysical subtext behind that comment, before Sunek forced him back to his feet and back towards the exit.

    “Also,” the Vulcan added, “We should get out of here, cos they’re definitely gonna kill us.”

    The room was filled with choking smoke, billowing out of what was now a very second hand Romulan cloaking device as a result of some recent and particularly devastating disruptor damage. From somewhere in the smoke, Sokar called out.

    “Sunek! You traitor!”

    A stream of disruptor blasts came streaking out of the smoke, randomly slamming into the wall behind them.

    “See?” Sunek added.

    That was all the impetus that Jirel needed to scramble back to his feet and make for the exit and the corridor outside. They raced through the door, even as the disruptor fire continued.

    The corridor outside was considerably more smoke-free, and they rushed off around a corner as quickly as possible, trying to evade their pursuers.

    Moments later, Sokar and T’Len emerged from the same room and took off after them, disruptors raised and poised for action.

    Sokar’s face was plastered with anguish. Everything was falling apart. He knew that now the Tolaris would have decloaked. They had been exposed, deep in Federation space, the chance of any sort of surprise attack ruined.

    The decloaked Romulan ship would have triggered every warning buoy across the next ten sectors, lit up every long range sensor scan in Federation territory, and there would already be half a dozen starships racing to converge on their location.

    And all of that made him angrier, and more eager to find his quarry.

    Further ahead, Sunek and Jirel rounded another corner.

    “You sure you’re ok?” the Trill managed to ask as they ran.

    Old Sunek, who was now very happy to go back to calling himself just plain old Sunek, nodded and smiled.

    “Hell yeah, never better,” he said, before immediately correcting himself, “Actually, that’s a huge lie. I am very, very confused about a lot of what’s happened here. But it’ll do for now. Let’s just get back to the Bounty.”

    “That is a plan I’m definitely up for,” Jirel nodded, as he grabbed the stocky communicator on his belt and bellowed into it.

    “Anyone alive back there? Me and Sunek could really do with someone working that transporter around now!”

    Denella’s voice came back over the channel, crackling slightly.

    “I’m tracking you, but I can’t get a lock on your patterns! That whole section of the ship’s flooded with radiation from somewhere.”

    “Psh. Some idiot must have just shot a cloaking device,” Sunek chimed in.

    “You’re gonna need to get clear of it, then I can beam you over,” the Orion woman continued, as Jirel suppressed a grimace. Nothing was ever easy.

    They came up to an intersection in the corridor, and Jirel pointed to their left.

    “Turbolift!”

    They rushed over to the dark green door and called the lift, waiting impatiently for the doors to open and let them in.

    “Sunek!”

    They turned around, to see Sokar and T’Len reach the intersection and approach them, bringing their weapons to bear. Both of the Vulcans had murderous anger etched across their faces. Jirel licked his lips, realising that he was the only one without a weapon in his hand.

    “You’ve ruined everything!” T’Len screamed through her anguish, “Everything that we’ve worked for, everything that Sokar wanted--”

    “T’Len,” Sunek tried, though he could see there was no getting through to her, “This isn’t the answer, ok? Whatever Sokar did to me, whatever he’s done to all of you...this isn’t right. Besides, if Doctor Sevik is dead, then there’s nobody left to have any revenge against--”

    “I should never have trusted you, Sunek!” Sokar spat, flexing his trigger finger, “How quickly you’ve ruined everything I’ve worked for all these years!”

    The doors opened behind him. Sunek couldn’t help but muster a cheeky grin, feeling emboldened by their impending escape.

    “Yeah, sorry about that.”

    He went to take a step back into the comforting safety of the lift, ready to whisk them to a location to be beamed out. Jirel shot an arm out to stop him.

    “Um…” the Trill said, pointing back behind the Vulcan.

    Sunek looked back, and saw nothing but an empty turbolift shaft.

    “What the hell--?”

    “Should probably have mentioned,” Jirel offered with an apologetic shrug, “That happens every now and again on this ship.”

    Sunek gulped and looked back at T’Len and Sokar, with their weapons still very much drawn. His boldness had very much disappeared, replaced by his more traditional cowardly streak.

    “Yeah,” he managed, “You definitely should have mentioned that.”

    “So, perhaps I won’t get the revenge I wanted,” Sokar growled menacingly, “But at least this will be something.”

    Sunek looked over at his estranged wife, trying a final distraction. “I take it we didn’t have thirty years, six months and fourteen days of marriage to catch up on after all?”

    T’Len went to answer, but she paused. Sunek saw something in her eyes that gave him a modicum of hope. Until Sokar jumped in with his own answer.

    “You really think she wanted anything to do with you?” he spat, taking another confident pace forward with his disruptor raised, “How pitiful. We just knew that would be the easiest way to get you on our side.”

    “Ouch,” Jirel offered from Sunek’s side.

    For his part, Sunek felt himself shrink slightly. The worst part was he couldn’t tell if Sokar was trying to rile him, or if that was actually the truth. T’Len simply refocused and brought her disruptor to bear.

    “I wanted to catch up with that passionate Vulcan I met at the ShiKahr Learning Institute,” she added through gritted teeth, “Not this lazy deadbeat clown you’ve become.”

    “I’ve definitely seen less dysfunctional marriages,” Jirel managed to quip.

    Sunek turned to the Trill. For a moment, he felt an entirely uncharacteristic flash of anger at his comment, and considered lashing out. But he managed to quickly dismiss it. That wasn’t Old Sunek’s way, after all.

    “So,” he shrugged instead, looking back at the empty lift shaft behind them, “I guess we’re totally out of options?”

    “I mean,” Jirel replied, “We do have one option. But it’s really, really, really stupid.”

    Sunek nodded and grinned widely.

    “Sounds like my kind of option.”

    The pair of them turned back to the armed Vulcans. Both of them gritting their teeth in anguish. Sokar tightened his grip on his disruptor.

    “Goodbye, Sunek,” he grunted.

    “Yep,” Sunek smiled back, “See ya.”

    They didn’t wait for the weapons to fire. They jumped. And they fell.

    The twin bursts of disruptor fire which followed slammed into the rear wall of the lift shaft where they had been standing.

    As he plummeted down the shaft towards the bottom of the Warbird, Sunek contemplated that this had indeed been a really, really, really stupid option.

    And because of that, he couldn’t help but laugh.

    ****************************

    “Stupid crapping piece of crapping crap!”

    Natasha and Klath watched this curious display of anger as Denella deftly worked the transporter controls as fast as her hands could move.

    “I’m still struggling to get a lock on them,” she grouched, “There’s still so much interference! And now their patterns are moving about all over the place.”

    “You must get a lock,” Klath offered, entirely unhelpfully.

    “Ugh!” the Orion woman sighed in frustration as she frantically worked, “Ok, here goes...nothing!”

    They all turned to the transporter pad in unison, to see the slightly odd sight of Sunek and Jirel both materialising in front of them while mid-freefall.

    The two figures that had been transported were equally surprised as they fell the short distance from where they had materialised to the transporter pad below with a loud thump.

    “Ow,” Jirel managed.

    “Huh,” Denella managed, looking up from the control panel, “Told you that’d be easy.”

    Jirel and Sunek awkwardly picked themselves up and looked around. The Vulcan had the widest grin anyone had ever seen plastered across his face.

    “Now that,” he said conclusively, “Was awesome.”

    The two figures on the transporter pad saw the pained and injured Natasha and Klath for the first time, as the human and the Klingon continued to stare at the two formerly free-falling individuals on the transporter pad.

    “What the hell happened to you two?” all four of them said at the same time.

    “Ok, maybe we can leave all that for later,” Denella offered, “Like, after we’ve actually escaped.”

    The five of them, some more awkwardly than others, scrambled out of the transporter room and back to the cockpit. They bounded down the Bounty’s short main corridor and up the steps into the cockpit, where they all slid into their usual places as quickly as possible.

    “Powering her up,” Sunek reported as he tapped his helm controls.

    “Sunek,” Natasha asked with a slight grimace, “What about T’Len?”

    The Vulcan paused in his work, feeling a flash of loss inside.

    He made sure that he had fully regained his cocky demeanour before he answered, sending the memories of the tingle of electricity he had felt whenever her hand had touched his straight to the back of his mind.

    “Right, yeah, that’s a really good point,” he nodded as he worked, “Anyone know a good divorce lawyer?”

    The Bounty lifted off from the deck of the hangar bay, pivoted around on its axis to face back the way it had come, and gently moved forwards. Towards the dark green bay doors, which were still very much in the closed position.

    “Any time you like, Denella,” Jirel called back to the Orion woman working at the engineering station at the rear of the cockpit.

    “What?” she called back.

    “The doors!” Jirel bellowed, gesturing forwards at the rapidly approaching solid metal doors in front of them with considerable concern.

    “Yep, working on it!”

    The doors loomed even larger in front of them.

    “Aw, screw this,” Sunek snapped, “Klath, old fashioned way?”

    “With pleasure,” the Klingon replied.

    ****************************

    The incongruous form of the Romulan Warbird, now very much decloaked and out of warp, hung peacefully in the middle of Federation space.

    The serenity of the scene was suddenly and entirely ruined when a huge explosion rocked the rear of the ship’s hawk-like front section, fire burning out from the surface of the hull where the hangar bay doors had been.

    Through the gap that had been cleared by the Bounty’s phaser cannons, the small ship pierced the wisps of smoke and fire and blasted free of the Warbird.

    The Bounty swooped gracefully in between the double hull of the vast Romulan ship and moved clear, the Vulcan pilot at the helm now back to his normal self.

    Seconds later, it vanished entirely, as the tiny ship streaked away at warp.

    ****************************

    “They are not pursuing,” Klath reported as he checked his readouts.

    Jirel sighed in relief and looked around the cockpit, allowing himself a moment to take in their escape before he turned back to Sunek.

    “Set course back to Redrax,” he nodded, “Let’s see if our friend Darhall is still around. I quite fancy some revenge of my own.”

    Sunek declined to pass comment as he usually did, and just tapped his controls as the Bounty followed the new course.

    “What happens to the Tolaris now?” Denella mused out loud.

    “It is without a cloak and deep inside Federation territory,” Klath pointed out, “It will be impossible for them to remain undetected.”

    “They’ll already be lighting up the sensor grid of every starship in range,” Natasha nodded.

    Sunek considered all of this in silence, not entirely sure he wanted to let on to anyone quite how conflicted he felt over the likely fate of the Tolaris, and her crew.

    “You know,” he said eventually, putting on his best Old Sunek voice, “Let’s let Starfleet worry about that. Besides, didn’t Darhall say he was on his way to Risa?”

    He turned back and grinned. Jirel smiled and shook his head.

    “Nice try,” the Trill replied, “But we’ll start on Redrax.”

    Sunek kept grinning and swung back to the front of the cockpit.

    He managed to somehow maintain his grin as he stared out at the stars streaking by. And thought of everything he'd just left behind.

    End of Part Four
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2021 at 5:49 PM
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  19. Robert Bruce Scott

    Robert Bruce Scott Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2021
    Somehow I don't think Bounty's crew has seen the last of the Tolaris... Nice, compact, economic storytelling. Clean prose, easy to follow and fun - Thanks!! rbs
     
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  20. BountyTrek

    BountyTrek Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2021
    Part Five

    “This is completely unnecessary.”

    Klath growled and shifted again as he sat rigidly on the small bed in the Bounty’s medical bay, as Natasha continued to work on his left arm.

    “Counterpoint,” Natasha smiled patiently, “It’s completely necessary.”

    “You have already treated my injury onboard the Warbird. It is healing adequately.”

    She sighed patiently and suppressed a wince from her own injuries on her back. She idly wondered how anyone could see the improvised bandage that she had managed to wrap around his wound as anything like an adequate treatment.

    Klingons really did make the worst patients.

    “That was just some basic field medicine,” she explained, “So you didn’t die. This is all so you don’t lose your arm.”

    She checked the results of her scans and pointed the bulky tricorder-type device over at Klath for him to check. The scanner wasn’t exactly the sort of thing she had been used to in Starfleet, but it was as good as it got as far as medical supplies on the Bounty were concerned. She made a mental note to resupply the entire medical bay whenever she next got a chance, even as she walked through the results for the Klingon in front of her.

    “There we go, see? You still have massive secondary tissue damage from the disruptor blast, significant sections of necrotic cells below the scar tissue and a minor case of blood poisoning from the wound being exposed for so long. I need to treat this. All of this. Now.”

    She fixed Klath with the sort of severe expression she used to reserve for the most reluctant of patients back in Starfleet. Headstrong first officers worried about missing any action on the bridge, eager young ensigns who thought they were invincible, CMOs convinced they knew better than their subordinates, those types of people.

    Klath still didn’t seem overly convinced. He barely reacted to her grim prognosis at all.

    She turned away to prepare the first stage of treatment, failing to suppress a slight groan of misery from the pain in her back.

    “Perhaps you should treat your own injuries,” Klath pointed out, “Rather than attempting further unnecessary work on my arm.”

    “Physician, heal thyself?” she fired back with a smirk, “Eh, I might have fallen for that five years ago. But, unfortunately, I’m not just some ex-Starfleet officer. I’m a war veteran. Which means I’ve become an expert in the art of triage. Not to mention an expert at ignoring my own pain.”

    She worked hard to suppress another flinch as she said that, trying to ignore the particular pain inside of her that was still connected to the last moments aboard the USS Navajo.

    That could definitely wait for another day, she told herself, as she grabbed the slightly basic cellular regenerator from her scant supplies and turned back to the increasingly grumpy Klingon.

    For his part, Klath saw the same steely determination in her eyes that he had seen before. But he still felt his own sense of pride overriding anything else.

    “As I have repeatedly stated,” he insisted, “I am--”

    As he spoke, she calmly reached out to his injured arm and firmly squeezed down on the affected area, just above his elbow. The immediate roar of agony the Klingon emitted was loud enough to shake the walls of the medical bay itself.

    “Sounds to me like you’re still in a lot of pain,” Natasha said calmly, still matching the Klingon’s gaze with a firm stare of her own, “Your move, Klath.”

    Klath stared back with anger, but it soon changed into something else. Something that had possibly been lacking previously.

    A look of respect.

    He held his arm back out without further argument.

    “You may continue your treatment,” he nodded, “If you must.”

    She smiled in satisfaction. Klath stared at her as she ran the cellular regenerator over the area.

    “I have come to see that I may have underestimated you, Natasha Kinsen,” he added with a low growl, “You are a fearsome warrior.”

    Natasha suppressed a smug smile as she continued to work.

    “Damn right I am.”

    ****************************

    The Bounty continued on its way at warp, the entire ship running on autopilot.

    In the ship’s small dining area, Sunek sat alone, an untouched bowl of plomeek soup on the table in front of him. It wasn’t that he wasn’t hungry, he just couldn’t bring himself to eat it.

    For some reason, he wasn’t in the mood for Vulcan food.

    So, instead, he just stared at the wall of the room in silence. To the point that it took him a while to realise that he was no longer alone.

    “Crap,” Jirel said from the now open doorway, “I know that look.”

    The Trill sighed and walked over to a storage locker in the wall next to the ship’s food replicator, opening it and retrieving a bottle and two glasses. He carried them back over and set them down on the table, pouring out two generous measures of Antarean brandy.

    “I don’t really need that,” Sunek shrugged dismissively.

    “Yeah,” Jirel countered knowingly, pushing one of the glasses over to him, “You do.”

    Sunek looked down at the dark liquid in the glass, and then over at Jirel on the other side of the table as he sipped his drink.

    “So, let’s talk,” the Trill prompted, after a moment of silence, “Call it payment for getting to share my favourite booze with me.”

    “Maybe I don’t wanna talk.”

    “Like hell you don’t. You’re Sunek. Talking is literally your thing.”

    Sunek paused. He definitely had him there. Although, technically, Sunek only liked to talk about things that weren’t serious. Serious conversations really weren’t his thing at all.

    He took a long slug from the glass and stared down into the dregs of the deep blue liquid.

    “It just sucks, y’know?” he managed eventually, “I finally see my friends - and my wife, for what that was worth - after all this time. And they’re all...”

    “Crazy?” Jirel offered.

    Sunek went to offer a counterclaim, but then stopped himself. The Trill had a point.

    “Whatever you wanna call it, I guess. But now...I dunno, they’re probably gonna spend the rest of their lives in some Federation penal colony somewhere.. And that just...sucks.”

    He took another sip from his drink. Jirel allowed the moment of silence to fester, waiting for the Vulcan to continue.

    “I guess I’ve been wondering if the old T’Len and Sokar are still in there somewhere. Buried inside them. Regardless of what they’ve become. I just hope...maybe one day they might be able to find themselves again.”

    He snorted at his own sincerity and reached for the brandy bottle to top off his glass.

    “I hate it when you make me do this serious crap.”

    “I know,” Jirel replied with a sad smile.

    Another moment of silence descended. Sunek swirled the liquid around in his glass.

    “Plus, I mean, whatever they’ve become, however bad what they were trying to do was, all that stuff that Sokar showed me in those melds. That was...messed up.”

    Jirel considered this, recalling the little that Sunek had told him about Doctor Sevik since they had fled from the Tolaris.

    “You think that all really happened? Crazy Vulcan doctor, the works?”

    “Wouldn’t be the first time Vulcan authorities had got a bit carried away in their stupid pursuit of logical perfection,” Sunek mused, before flashing Jirel a grin, “Rather than the more well-rounded vision of Vulcan perfection who sits before you now.”

    “Naturally.”

    Another silence descended. Sunek gently pushed his untouched bowl of soup away, deciding to focus entirely on the alternative form of liquid sustenance in his glass.

    “You ever tried meditating?” he asked eventually, throwing Jirel off slightly.

    “Not really,” he replied, “I had this old yoga holoprogram I was obsessed with when I was younger. But, full disclosure, I was a teenager, the instructor in the program wore a really tight leotard, and this really isn’t a sharing story.”

    Sunek suppressed a smirk.

    “There’s this old Vulcan technique. It’s, like, the first thing you get taught, as soon as you’re old enough to walk. You picture yourself on a ship, on the Voroth Sea, and everything’s calm and peaceful. And all you have to do is balance. Except, Sokar’s obsessed with how it’s all out of whack, cos the real Voroth Sea is all murky and stormy and really not all that great for balancing on.”

    “Sounds lovely,” Jirel mused.

    “Yeah, well, the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve started to realise that he’s got it all wrong. The calm sea wasn’t a lie. It was part of the meditation. Like, it was all about being able to picture serenity in the unlikeliest of places. Right?”

    Jirel didn’t answer. Sunek idly spun his now-empty glass around on the table.

    “They really should just explain that to you at the time,” he added, “But, then, I guess figuring that out is kinda the point.”

    Jirel toyed with his own glass, feeling as uncomfortable hearing Sunek talk this deeply about anything as Sunek did in discussing it in the first place.

    “I guess...I hope Sokar figures that out. I hope they all do.”

    “You know,” Jirel offered, “We can try to go back for her.”

    Sunek stared down at the table. He knew what he wanted to say. But he also knew what he should say. Sunek the talker. Sunek the joker. So he forced the truth to the back of his mind.

    “Nah,” he said with a grin, “I mean, if we’re really supposed to have been married all this time, then I’ve cheated on her...a lot.”

    “A lot?”

    “Well...a bit.”

    Jirel’s face creased into a similar grin, as Sunek laughed on the other side of the table. Satisfied that he had done what he needed to do, Jirel stood up and walked back towards the doorway, leaving Sunek with the rest of the bottle.

    He paused as he got to the door and looked back at the Vulcan.

    “You gonna be ok?”

    Sunek thought about everything that had happened. He thought about T’Len, and how quickly they’d reconnected, and separated again. He thought about Sokar, the misery and pain he had suffered and the twisted man it had turned him into. He thought about how easily he’d been manipulated, and how many conflicting emotions still swirled around inside him.

    He even thought about New Sunek. Or as he was now very much determined to call him, Temporary Sunek, and how worryingly quickly he had been able to seize control of his personality.

    Nothing he thought about made him think he was going to be ok.

    Still, he was Sunek. And Sunek didn’t worry about things like that. Sunek sat in the pilot’s seat and made jokes. That was where he felt most comfortable. So he decided to lie.

    “Nothing that trip to Risa won’t fix,” he grinned.

    Jirel smiled and shook his head, pausing one final time before he left.

    “You know earlier?” he asked, “With the cloaking device?”

    Sunek nodded. Jirel licked his lips, internally debating whether he really wanted an answer to this question or not.

    “Do I wanna know how close you came to shooting me instead of the cloak?”

    Sunek smiled. And decided to lie about that as well.

    “Come on, Jirel,” he chuckled, “Who do you think I am?”

    Jirel smiled and nodded, walking out of the room. Ignoring the fact that he suddenly found that he wasn’t entirely sure he knew the answer to that question any more.

    ****************************

    T’Len lay on the bed in her quarters, staring blankly at the ceiling as she recovered from the latest meld.

    To one side, Sokar sat at the table and steepled his fingers.

    “It really does hurt me to do that,” he said with an edge of sympathy, “But you understand why I have to. Especially now, after what has happened. I need to make sure you’re completely loyal to our cause, T’Len.”

    She remained on the bed, but she nodded.

    The Tolaris was limping away from Vulcan as fast as she could. The sudden destruction of the cloaking device, coupled with the shoddy repairs to the rest of the ship, had caused several cascade failures in other systems.

    So far, they managed to evade the Federation patrols that had attempted to intercept them, and Tepal was working hard back on the bridge to disguise their warp signature on any further sensor traces that they showed up on.

    Their aim was to reach the Barvin Nebula, on the outskirts of Federation space. A region where sensors would be almost useless, and where the Tolaris could potentially hide for as long as they needed to. For as long as it took for them to rebuild the cloaking device, or to at least find an alternative mode of transport to get them out of Federation space.

    But he still had no idea if they would make it that far. Decloaked in the middle of Federation space, it would be a minor miracle if they did.

    “I have to be especially sure about you now,” he continued, “Now that Sunek has let us down, and betrayed us all.”

    A tear escaped her eye, but she nodded again, feeling shame for ever having brought him aboard in the first place.

    “I’m sorry Sokar,” she managed, “I really thought he would be one of us--”

    “No matter,” he said, “We will escape, and then we will rebuild. I believe in that. And I will need you at my side, without question.”

    He stood and walked over to her where she lay. She saw the determination in his eyes, and she felt the rage building inside her from the meld.

    “Yes,” she nodded, “That is where I will be.”

    “No matter what I ask you to do?”

    “No matter what,” she replied.

    “Even if I asked you to kill your husband?”

    She surprised even herself with how quickly her response came.

    “Yes,” she nodded.

    ****************************

    Minister Levok steepled his fingers in front of him, raising an eyebrow at the information that was being presented to him.

    On the other side of his wide wooden desk, Sub-Minister T’Mar remained stoic and calm, having concluded her report.

    They were in a large windowless office, deep in the bowels of the V’Shar’s main headquarters on the Vulcan Homeworld. The walls were dark, the lighting in the room kept low. Just as the minister liked it to be.

    While they were a peaceful people, Vulcans also followed a rigorous approach to their own internal security matters, and the room was well shielded from any outside interference. An entirely logical step to take given the sensitivity of what they usually had to deal with.

    “I understand,” Minister Levok said eventually, “And there has still been no contact from our agent aboard the vessel?”

    “None at all,” T’Mar replied coldly, “The only logical conclusion is that she has been killed, or otherwise incapacitated in some way.”

    Minister Levok considered this for a moment. She had been one of his most trusted and longest serving agents, and she still had an extensive family scattered across the Vulcan colonies.

    “Unfortunate,” he replied eventually, “Especially given our lack of contact with the vessel since it was picked up on long range sensors by a patrol near the Gallos System.”

    “Indeed, Minister,” T’Mar nodded, “However, we have numerous V’Shar ships conducting a full search, and we are coordinating with Starfleet’s own search teams and patrol vessels. We shall find them.”

    “That is by no means certain,” he stated, “Nevertheless your report was welcome, Sub-Minister. Please, keep me informed of any developments. And if we do not hear from our agent within the next two days, make preparations to inform her family.”

    T’Mar nodded curtly, but she didn’t leave. Not just yet.

    “Is there something else I can assist you with?” he asked with a raised eyebrow.

    She paused, almost as if she wasn’t entirely sure that she wanted to deliver this additional part of her report to her superior. Even though such a reaction would be deeply illogical.

    “There is something else,” she said eventually, placing a padd on the table in front of him. Minister Levok picked up the padd and scanned the details on the screen.

    “It is a requisition list,” she explained, slightly unnecessarily, “Additional requirements...for Project Sevik.”

    The project name elicited no reaction from Levok.

    Doctor Sevik’s private research into emotional purging had been uncovered by the authorities many years ago, and the doctor had indeed been sent into exile, where he had died in disgrace. Or at least, as close as a stoically logical Vulcan got to a state of disgrace.

    But while he had been publicly shunned, his years of research lived on, having been seized by the V’Shar for further analysis. After all, it was entirely logical to take time to properly assess the validity of such an intensive study into emotional control. Even if the doctor had unquestionably crossed a moral line with his experiments on actual patients.

    Minister Levok considered this as he surveyed the list on the padd.

    “Very well,” he replied, “I will see to it that this list is actioned.”

    T’Mar nodded, turned around and calmly walked out of the office, leaving Minister Levok alone with his thoughts.

    Somewhere deep in the bowels of the V’Shar headquarters, the late Doctor Sevik’s research continued.

    ****************************

    He stood on the deck of the ship, feeling faintly ridiculous.

    It had been a long time since Sunek had done any sort of meditation. Ever since his emotional breakthrough with the V’tosh ka’tur, he’d always seen meditation as something that only boring stoic Vulcans bothered with.

    But something about what he had been through the last few days made him curious about trying it again.

    And so, instead of spending the rest of the night drinking the rest of Jirel’s prized Antarean brandy, he had retreated to his cabin. And for the first time in a very long time, he had decided to meditate.

    Surrounded by the clear, calm waters of the Voroth Sea, he closed his eyes, balancing on the deck below.

    He couldn’t say that the meditation had completely cleared his mind, but he was definitely feeling more peaceful.

    Whether he was Old Sunek, New Sunek, or just plain old Sunek, he was a lot calmer. The anger that Sokar had infected him with seemed to have dissipated.

    Maybe I should make this a regular thing, he thought to himself as he relaxed, maybe this’ll do me some good.

    He opened his eyes and breathed out. The air was calm, the sea was at peace.

    He was in perfect balance.

    And then he looked up, across the crystal clear waters of the Voroth Sea. And Sunek saw something way off in the far distance that made him feel slightly less balanced.

    There was a storm on the horizon.

    The End
     
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