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New World Man: Aftermath
A | Author - Kevin | Genre - Drama | Genre - Friendship | Genre - Romance | Main Story | N | Rating - PG
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New World Man: Aftermath
Author’s Note: My normal formatting conventions apply for all of the stories in this series. Text in “” is English. Text in ** “” ** is Vulcan. Text in () is TnT bondspeak. Text in italics is inner dialog or the name of a ship (depending on context).
T’Pol sat in front of her meditation candle staring intently at the flame. There were times when being bonded to her Human was… inconvenient.
Two days ago, Starfleet, with the help of an Andorian Task Force, routed the Romulan forces based in the Cheron system. The battle was the culmination of many months worth of planning and valuable intelligence gathering. Nearly a year ago, Starfleet intelligence learned the Romulans were launching their ambush attacks from a base on the fifth planet in the Cheron system. According to the information, the Romulans were devoting fewer resources to the war than previously believed and a strike on the base could shatter their ability to launch attacks on the shipping lanes.
Last May, T’Pol and Commander Eames combined their years of experience to detail the attacks given this new information. Assuming the attacks originated from the Cheron system, the resulting plots showed all Romulan ambushes to that point were within two days traveling at Warp 4.7. The crew of the Daedalus was then tasked to conduct reconnaissance and verify the intelligence, as much as possible. They had verified the information as accurate and were fleeing at maximum Warp when engaged by a group of Romulan ships in a previously unknown mine field. Although the ship was lost, Starfleet received its confirmation and the battle plan proceeded.
Starfleet would not reveal how it gathered the intelligence, but T’Pol believed it came from the Andorians. The Cheron system had been under Andorian control until a peace treaty with Vulcan assigned it to her people. Why the Vulcan High Command would have abandoned the system was beyond her understanding, but she assumed the Andorians continued to monitor the system for activity. Given the fact that an Andorian Task Force took part in the battle, it was logical to assume the intelligence was provided by the Andorians. She could not believe the Andorians would participate based on intelligence they did not fully trust. It was also logical to assume they took part in the battle in order to reclaim the system. Starfleet would have little interest in it and handing it over to the Andorians would ensure they were drawn into the war if the Romulans tried to retake the system.
Questions of why her people abandoned the system only to have the Romulans take up residence there, who provided the vital intelligence Starfleet needed, and why the Andorians were suddenly so willing to take part in a battle not part of their war haunted her. However, none of that mattered to Trip in the least. His concerns and reactions, although far more troubling, were far more basic.
Starfleet was ultimately successful in its goal, but that success came at a high cost. Starfleet’s first assault group arrived 30 minutes earlier than the rest and bore the brunt of the resistance. Of the six ships in the group, only Atlantis left the battle zone under her own power. Both NC class ships, Alexander and Essex, were destroyed as well as Hornet. Roosevelt and Paul Hamilton were being moved to the rear, dead in tow, so that minimal Warp capabilities could be restored for the journey back to Starfleet’s shipyards. Horizon, an NC class assigned to the third assault group, was severely damaged and was also being towed.
In all, 16 of the 42 engineering officers aboard the six NC class ship lost their lives during the battle, three more were listed as critical and not expected to survive and six others had injuries such as the loss of a limb or severe burns that would require medical discharges. Trip personally trained every one of those officers. One of Trip’s personality traits was that he became personally attached to the people serving under him. As she expected, he was not dealing well with the casualty reports.
Their first argument in many months came late last night as Trip completed his seventh condolence letter to the family of a killed officer. She felt what recording the letters was doing to him and made it clear that was the responsibility of their commanding officer, not him. His response was that fourteen of the dead no longer had living commanding officers and, left to the Admiralty, their families would receive nothing more than form letters. That was unacceptable, in his opinion. At first she tried to negotiate to only those but that escalated into another argument about why they were more important than the others. He made clear, in no uncertain terms that he was going to write all 25 letters. He said some frightening words in his tear-filled tirade, including calling her a heartless Vulcan before he stormed out of their quarters.
T’Pol was left stunned staring off into space once he left. It was only then she fully recognized the depth of emotion he felt. The most troubling part to her, was not the words he said, but the fact that after all these years of sharing their katras, she could still be so baffled by his response to a particular situation. As much as she tried last night, she could not understand his need to write individual, personal letters to the family of each officer killed or maimed. In each letter Trip spoke personally of that person and how he or she touched his life and how proud he was to have served with them. Some were his peers and none were under his command, yet he still felt responsible for them simply because he trained them on that engine. She wondered if she would every truly understand him.
Eventually Trip calmed down and returned to their quarters. Neither of them spoke and he silently joined her in their bed. She did not see the need to confront him about the ‘heartless Vulcan’ comment because they both knew he did not mean it. She pushed him too hard at a time when his emotions were nearly out of control, he exploded and said things he did not mean. It was his nature and she would never hold that against him. She only hoped in the morning, after a good night’s sleep, he would be a bit calmer and she could help him deal with his pain. Trip’s tossing and turning and mumbling removed any possibility of her sleeping so she chose to meditate. However, her turmoil at their earlier argument combined with his emotions running wild, prevented her from achieving the proper meditative state. Three hours later found her kneeling in front of the candle accomplishing nothing but watching it burn.
T’Pol’s choice was to attempt deal with the tidal wave of Trip’s grief or to shield herself from his presence. After years of sharing her very existence with him, she would rather cut off her left hand than do that.
So she suffered through his grief and tried to give him some measure of comfort. This is just like Daedalus all over again.
Captain Archer sat rigid in his chair watching Earth get larger in the view screen as Enterprise gently glided through the solar system.
He hoped the headache that constantly pounded his temples for the past two days would soon be put to rest. Admiral Gardner himself recalled Enterprise without explanation. Not Commodore Branch. Not Admiral Cragen. Admiral Gardner, Fleet Admiral of Starfleet.
They were barely six months out of dock after the refit. Sure Romulan activity had dropped to virtually zero once Cheron was theirs. Sure there were rumors the Vulcans had contacted the Romulans to mediate a permanent cease fire between the warring factions. But that didn’t mean Enterprise should be recalled.
Travis had just indicated they were inside Mars orbit. Jon sighed. One step closer.
Jon heard the rumors. In fact, Branch used them in his latest attempt to get Jon to accept command of the Yorktown. The Commodore was still pressing for him to take the ship as late as the day before Cheron. He gently rubbed his hand across the armrest. He was going to miss the old girl.
Since Gardner himself recalled them, that meant only one thing. Enterprise was to be retired and turned into a floating museum.
Jon slumped in his chair. The only ships he ever knew were the line of NX prototypes up to Enterprise. He didn’t want to get to know another ship. He wanted Enterprise. He didn’t care if the old girl was unique and now mostly obsolete. She was still a fine ship. She deserved better than to be put out to pasture at the first sign of easing tensions.
Enterprise had saved Earth. She deserved a chance to serve Humanity as something more than a tourist attraction.
Jon resisted the urge to order Travis to jump to maximum Warp in any direction away from there as he expertly settled her into orbit around… home. Delaying the inevitable won’t accomplish anything.
Jon stood up and turned to Hoshi. “Wire the Admiral and let him know I’ll be there in fifteen minutes.”
“Aye, aye, sir,” she responded as Jon entered the turbo lift.
Captain Archer listened as Lieutenant Sato completed her daily status report on the communications array. Although the stunning victory at Cheron forced the Romulans to the negotiation table for a truce, Starfleet wasn’t completely sure of their intentions. The current cease fire may have been nothing more than a Romulan delaying tactic allowing them to regroup after a humiliating loss. That meant Enterprise was not, in fact, to be mothballed and simply was recalled so she could serve a new purpose. Although Enterprise had been released to its new mission, Starfleet wished to keep Enterprise’s communication array in peak condition in case they were again pressed into service behind the front lines. Jon would make sure his crew was ready to serve at a moment’s notice.
Of course Commander T’Pol’s department kept both the sensors and array in peak condition. They really had little else to do while the ship shuttled a small Human and Vulcan delegation negotiating improvements to the Coalition of Planets treaty. Both parties had grudgingly agreed their first multilateral interstellar treaty was less than a success. As difficult as it was for Jon to admit, since he was personally involved with its formation, it basically failed its first test. When Earth was attacked by the Romulans, neither Andoria nor Vulcan came to their aid. Archer took the slight personally and it hurt him deeply.
He turned his attention to Commander T’Pol. She sat looking at him impassively as ever.
“No sir,” T’Pol replied.
“Okay then… Dismissed…” Jon watched as Commander Kincaid, Commander T’Pol and Lieutenant Sato each stood up to leave his ready room. “T’Pol, could you stay a moment longer?”
She turned to him and replied, “of course,” and returned to her seat.
Commander Kincaid turned her attention to the Captain as if to ask if he wanted her to stay. Jon motioned with his eyes that she could go.
Once they were alone T’Pol spoke up, “yes Captain?”
Jon took a deep breath. “How’s Trip doing?”
T’Pol’s attention seemed to wane for a second before returning to him. “He currently is running a diagnostic on the array’s secondary power systems… Do you wish him to copy you on the status report?”
Jon smiled and chuckled to himself. “No, that’s not what I meant.”
T’Pol cocked her head. He assumed she was confused.
“I mean… How’s he feeling? It’s been a bit over two weeks since Cheron and he’s hardly said anything to me… Sometimes I’m not even sure he’s paying attention at the department meetings.”
T’Pol’s face seemed to change and Jon wondered if she was considering how to respond.
“Captain, you have to understand that Trip trained every single engineering officer aboard the NC class ships. He knew every single one killed or maimed in the battle… He had only just dealt with the almost total loss of the Daedalus crew when the battle commenced… The loss of so many people he cared about has been… a difficult burden for him.”
Jon felt his heart ache at that realization. To him, the Daedalus, Alexander and Essex were just some of the ships lost during the Romulan War. But to Trip, those were lists of people, his people, who lost their lives. Of course Trip knew every engineering officer on those ships. Jon should have assumed that would be the case. He hadn’t been able to find out much about the NC class beyond some brief rumors and a hint that some in Starfleet design jokingly referred to them as the TnT class–as in Trip and T’Pol.
Jon tried to pry out the story behind that nickname but so far both had demurred saying the information was classified.
Jon studied T’Pol for a bit and wondered how she was taking their loss. He guessed she must have been involved as much as Trip was. “How are you handling the loss?”
T’Pol seemed to get a contemplative look on her face. “Vulcans normally do not form the same type of attachments to colleagues that Humans do… However I often find myself recalling the last time I spoke with some of the lost officers.” T’Pol turned her head to her hands lying folded in her lap. “In addition sometimes Trip’s grief is difficult to block out.”
Jon had no idea what to say. It was clear neither was taking the situation very well. “I’m sorry T’Pol… I didn’t mean to open any wounds… I guess I was just… well… I don’t know. It’s just I haven’t had a chance to talk to Trip much… You know… Since the two of you came back.”
Jon felt himself choke up and he turned his eyes away so T’Pol couldn’t see the hurt.
“I’m sorry Cap’n… Give me a couple a’ days to work things out… I’ll stop by and we’ll talk. Just us guys… Okay?”
Jon’s face shot up to T’Pol’s and he looked at her in disbelief. The sounds came out of her mouth, but they were clearly Trip’s words.
T’Pol seemed almost… embarrassed by her outburst. “I apologize, Captain. I was distracted for a moment with Trip. I replied without thinking.”
Jon grinned and laughed to himself. He still hadn’t quite gotten used to having his own living comm. channel to his chief engineer. So far T’Pol had been very good about hiding this ability and only he and Commander Kincaid knew of it. “That’s okay. Tell him I just miss him is all.”
T’Pol must have recognized their conversation was over as she stood up. “Captain, when we achieve orbit around Vulcan you are welcome to stay with us. We have a guest room in our home.”
Jon twisted his mouth to the side and considered it. “I’m not sure T’Pol.”
“Please consider it… I know Trip would enjoy your company in our home… I know he is looking forward to it. We have not been there in over a year… Even if you can only stay for a day, I am certain Trip would appreciate it.”
Jon smiled. “Sure, I’ll consider it. I can probably spend at least a day there.”
“Thank you, T’Pol…”
T’Pol turned and walked out of his office.
T’Pol left the Captain’s ready room and walked toward her station in the command center.
( Thanks for asking the Captain to stay with us. )
( I believed it will be beneficial for both of you. )
She felt Trip’s amusement. ( Yeah, you’re right. )
( When will your work be complete today? )
( I’m not sure… I’ll start off the final diagnostic just before supper and then come back to it… I’d say maybe 2100 hours, not later than 2200 hours. )
T’Pol made sure Trip was aware of her displeasure. There was no reason for him to be working this hard.
( I know what you’re trying to say, but I don’t care… The Captain gave us three days off, four if you count the travel time to and from home. I want to make sure everything’s in good shape. I want to be able to enjoy our time off guilt-free… Okay? )
T’Pol did not like it but she had to admit his argument was… logical. She decided she could live with his putting in a few extra hours over the next two days if it meant he put work aside once they returned home. She wanted to spend a good part of that time off… relieving his tensions. She did not want to share him with Enterprise.
( I will be waiting for you. )
She felt the warm, tingly sensation pass through her body that meant he was sending all his love to her through their bond. ( I’ll be thinking of you for the rest of the afternoon… )
( And I you. )
She entered the command center and took her seat at her station. She started reviewing their long range sensor information for anything of interest.
She also considered relocating tomorrow’s two hour morning work out to their quarters as opposed to the gym. She was certain she could create an appropriate aerobic exercise program that would maintain Trip’s cardiovascular health.
Malcolm sat pushing the eggs around his plate only taking the occasional spoonful into his mouth. Initially he sat at the table so he could eavesdrop on Commander Tucker and Commander T’Pol. He hadn’t had much of a chance to interact with either of them since they were reassigned to the ship. He was curious to find out if some of the gossip was true.
So far at least part of it was confirmed. Neither had spoken a word since he sat at the table next to them. Not even whispered words that he couldn’t make out. No, as far as he could tell, they ate in complete silence. Lieutenant Sato… Hoshi… told him she heard they could speak to each other telepathically. Malcolm let out a disbelieving snort at that idea. Of all the rumors Hoshi spread over the years that had to be the most outlandish. Commander Tucker was about as telepathic as a rock.
No, Hoshi failed to acknowledge the Vulcan custom of eating in silence. Since T’Pol had already convinced him to become a vegetarian, Malcolm doubted it took a significant amount of extra effort to also get him to sit down and shut up during the meal. He heard rustling behind him and only briefly glanced at Commander T’Pol as she returned her meal tray, leaving Commander Tucker alone behind him. He smirked a bit as he remembered Trip once insisting she looked far better coming than going. Malcolm wasn’t sure he agreed. She looked pretty good going too. He frowned and shook his head. Those thoughts aren’t appropriate. She’s his wife for God’s sakes.
At one time though, Malcolm’s primary duty was to watch her closely. Nine years ago… in twenty days, actually nine years to the day… Section 31 placed Malcolm aboard Enterprise to ‘keep tabs on the Vulcan’. Commander T’Pol, then Sub-Commander, had been Ministry of Security but officially left that post for one in the Vulcan diplomatic core. Of course, no one believed she really left. She was one of Ambassador Soval’s body guards according her Section 31 dossier and most likely assigned to Enterprise at the behest of the Ministry. Malcolm’s assignment was to watch her, report back and make sure she didn’t get in the way.
After several months, Malcolm seriously questioned the quality of investigative work done on her. He couldn’t believe she was spying for the Ministry, or even working at the behest of the Vulcan High Command or Ministry of Security in any way. In fact, on a couple of occasions she seemed to even work at cross purposes to the High Command. While he was by nature a distrusting person, even Malcolm had to eventually conclude she was not doing this as a ruse to hide her true mission. Sub-Commander T’Pol actually supported Captain Archer and did everything in her power to ensure his success.
Even his superiors eventually conceded the point and gave him a new mission. He was assigned to shadow Captain Archer. At first Malcolm was stunned and balked at the assignment until the miscommunication was revealed. He was not to spy on the Captain but to watch over him and do what he could to make sure no harm befell the Captain. He shook his head after thinking about the initial series of communiqués on the subject. His superiors had been in the shadows and used to speaking in enigmas for so long, they were utterly incapable of saying anything directly. Why the hell didn’t they just tell me I was to protect Captain Archer? No, instead they had to couch it in vague terms that easily led to misunderstanding.
And so for over seven years Malcolm’s primary role was not to be Enterprise’s tactical officer, as those around him believed, but as Captain Archer’s bodyguard. The most difficult time in Malcolm’s short life had been the realization that he failed when the Captain remained behind to destroy the sphere. Knowing they had saved Earth should have brought some measure of comfort to Malcolm but it had not. He had personally failed, even if the mission was a success. It was Malcolm’s first failure at anything, at least in his professional career, and he struggled with the recognition that some things were beyond his control.
Although none knew it, no one could have been more relieved to see the Captain alive than he.
Through the years, his superiors ensured he was not removed from Enterprise but they could not prevent requests from other Captains for transfer. It was the third such request that caused Malcolm to be alone with Captain Archer yesterday afternoon. The Discovery’s WSO took the same role on the Yorktown, a new NC class ship to be complete in six months, and Malcolm was offered the position. The transfer included a promotion to Commander. Captain Archer lectured him on not letting personal loyalty get in the way of his career. Starfleet normally kept only three Commanders on a ship, in very rare cases four, and it was unlikely Malcolm would ever get promoted as long as he remained aboard Enterprise. The Captain’s arm twisting had been thorough.
Captain Archer confessed that unless the Romulan War flared back up again, Enterprise was going to be retired within a year. Malcolm felt not just disappointment, but also a measure of pride in Archer’s trust at that revelation. Enterprise was unique and its capabilities limited compared not just to the new NC class but even the second generation of NX class. Starfleet wanted to turn its first Warp 5 ship into a museum of Human accomplishment while it still had the chance. Archer tried hard to get Malcolm to seize the opportunity. It might be some time before he was offered another shot at a Commander’s position–assuming Starfleet even made the offer for a fourth time. Archer was clearly frustrated when Malcolm smiled and said he’d consider everything the Captain said.
Of course, he would not accept the position. Being a Commander was mostly irrelevant. He was Section 31 first, Starfleet second.
Malcolm looked up and stretched his back a bit. He watched as one of the Vulcan dignitaries entered the Mess Hall and walked right toward him. He was briefly confused until the Vulcan walked right by him and quietly asked Commander Tucker if he could join him.
What would a Vulcan diplomat want with Commander Tucker?
When the two started speaking to each other in hushed Vulcan, Malcolm reached down to start the concealed audio recorder he always carried just for situations like this.
But something made him stop. This was Commander Tucker, Trip, he was about to spy on. He moved his hand back up to the table and wiped it on the napkin. He rose to leave and let the two continue to speak about whatever topic they wished to keep private.
Malcolm resolved that while he was in the mess hall, he would be Starfleet and not a member of Section 31.
Trip frowned and scratched the stubble on his face. Ambassador Stoli made one of the strangest requests he’d heard in his whole life. A short while later Ambassador Phipps confirmed that there was not in fact, a miscommunication between Trip and Ambassador Stoli. That lead the three on their little journey into the bowels of Enterprise–a place Trip had only ever went when maintenance schedules required.
Trip shrugged. If these guys don’t want to use a conference room all the time, who ’m I to tell them no? The room was a bit too warm, a bit too dirty and a bit too dark for his tastes but it fit their requirement exactly.
“Well, here we are,” Trip pointed to the short storage containers he’d found to use as makeshift chairs.
Stoli nodded and perched himself atop the farthest one.
Phipps turned to him. “Commander, are you certain there’s no way to monitor what we say here?”
Trip smiled and nodded. “Yep… There’s so much shielding and EMF around here, internal sensors can’t even find you… Basically, you don’t exist to the outside world as long as you’re in here.”
“Excellent… Very good, Commander.”
Trip turned to leave this bizarre situation.
“Please, Commander, we’d like you to stay.”
That caught Trip’s attention. “Hunh?”
“Yes, Commander,” Stoli said. “We would benefit from your experience.”
Trip cocked his head. What the hell do they need from me? He was pretty sure neither of these guys could tell a Warp engine from communications array. What experience do I have these two could use?
Trip watched as Phipps appeared to ask an unspoken question of Stoli. The Vulcan just nodded.
“We need your help Commander… Ambassador Stoli and I have been charged with far broader ranging negotiations than is generally acknowledged… Reactionaries on both sides are trying to impede progress at building something better than the Coalition of Planets. Because of the sensitive nature of our discussions, we cannot trust the translators or even our own aides… We would benefit from your experience in both cultures to point out areas for potential misunderstanding.”
Trip frowned. He scratched the back of his neck. He could tell T’Pol was as stunned at this revelation as he was. “I don’t know… I’m hardly an expert on Vulcans.”
“You’ve married one… You’ve lived on the planet away from the Human sector. That’s more than me,” Phipps reminded him.
“Commander,” Stoli spoke up. “Although I have spoken English for almost 30 years, I still find nuances in the language that I do not understand… Since you have learned Vulcan, I wish to ask your advice from time to time about how to best express certain concepts in English.”
Trip slumped. They were right. But it sounded dull… mind-numbingly dull… for an engineer. “Okay,” he said as he released a deep breath.
Ambassador Phipps slapped his hands against his thighs. “Okay then. Where we were?” He chuckled at Ambassador Stoli.
“The same topic as we have been discussing for three days… Starfleet’s role in this new federation.”
Phipps frowned. “You know, I still don’t like that word. People are going to think we’re handing over our sovereign rights to… ahhh… this federation.”
“I understand your concerns, Ambassador. But that word appears to be the most accurate way to describe the goal behind these negotiations.”
Phipps tilted his head back and forth as he considered the Vulcan’s statement. “I know.” He took a deep breath. “We just need to see if we can find a better word for it…”
And so it went on and on. Trip was only barely aware of their discussion about the minutia of funding, shipping lane definitions and so forth. He really needed a good, strong cup of coffee to stay awake through this snoozer. It probably wasn’t even 1000 hours yet and he was already nodding off.
As his mind started to drift, he smiled to himself and decided no, what he really needed, at that moment, was to be under a quilt with T’Pol, nibbling on her neck and ears while her breaths came in short gasps as he held her body tight against him. From time to time he’d gently grasp her nipples with his teeth and flick his tongue over their very tips. His mind continued to drift as he fantasized running his tongue along the bottoms of her breasts and that place on her tummy just below her sternum she always liked. Lost in his own fantasy world, a rumbling purr came from the back of his throat.
Suddenly he felt a sharp jolt of pain, jumped up and shook his head in shock. When he came to his senses, both Ambassadors Phipps and Stoli were staring right at him.
“Is something wrong, Commander?”
Trip was certain he turned bright red. “Ahhh… no… sorry.” He moved his eyes down to his lap.
( Please pay attention. I did not wish to do that but you were distracting the both of us. )
Trip fought hard to contain a laugh. Although he couldn’t be sure, he believed at least part of the arousal he felt was hers. Hoshi and T’Pol were running some tests on the array and he guessed Hoshi was probably wondering why she didn’t have T’Pol’s full attention. T’Pol told him earlier she was pretty sure Hoshi guessed at their non-verbal communication. ( Sorry. This is just… well… boring as hell. )
( They are relying on your help. You cannot provide that help if you are not paying attention. )
( If you stop distracting me and allow me to work, we can get the quilt out of the closet this evening and move all of the cushions to the floor. )
Trip smiled. That was all the incentive he needed to pay attention.
A little over two hours later Trip headed back to engineering and he could tell T’Pol was not happy about something. He could feel the impression get stronger as the negotiations progressed and the basic framework was agreed upon.
( What’s wrong? )
( Nothing. )
Trip rolled his eyes. ( You should know by now you can’t lie to me. )
( It is no matter. )
( The hell it ain’t… It’s about assigning defense to Starfleet, isn’t it? )
( Yes. )
Trip sighed. ( Yeah, I don’t like that either. I can’t believe the Vulcans would go along with it… Something about Stoli’s explanation doesn’t hold water. )
( I agree. My people have long expressed concern about Starfleet becoming a military organization. And now not only are they supporting Earth’s building of warships but also providing funding and technical assistance? That seems like a reckless policy change. )
( Maybe the Romulans have them scared? Maybe T’Pau’s government’s still struggling to keep ships manned? )
( That is possible… I can think of no other reason for my people to turn over shipping lane defense to Starfleet. Even then, I cannot believe they would turn over the protection of Vulcan transport ships to Starfleet. )
Trip shook his head. ( Yeah, something’s going on for sure… ) He took a deep breath and remembered something his grandmother told him. The avalanche has begun. It’s too late for the pebbles to vote. ( Oh well, I guess there’s nothing we can do about it. )
He felt T’Pol consider what his grandmother told him. ( I agree, there is not. )
Trip decided to move the conversation in a less frustrating direction. ( So did you talk to T’Lyr yet? )
( Yes, while you were speaking with the Ambassadors… I informed her we will arrive home before 1100 hours tomorrow. )
Trip smiled. ( Good, I can’t wait! )
( She has a surprise for us. )
( For us? ) Trip tilted his head and tried to think what it could be. ( What? )
( I do not know. She would not say. )
Trip chuckled. ( Okay, I guess I’ll just have to wait. Give me a few minutes to check up on things in engineering and then I’ll stop by the command center. I’ll bring something to nibble on while we look through the output. )
( Peaches? )
( Yeah, if chef has some. If not I’ll show you what she’s got on hand. )
Trip felt her agreement and stepped into the turbo lift that would take him to engineering. He still mulled around in his head why the Vulcans would ever agree to turn over shipping lane defense to Starfleet. Sure the new NC class was almost a match for the D’Kyr class, but the Vulcans still had more ships to deploy. After Cheron, Starfleet had only four remaining NC class ships and one of those was significantly damaged. He shook his head. The only conclusion he could come to was T’Pau’s government was still weak and couldn’t keep the ships properly manned. He couldn’t think of any other reason the Vulcans would not only agree to, but also fully support, those terms.
Captain Archer stood at the foot of a massive stairway. A rather large complex was perched atop the hill in front of him. “Is that it?”
Trip nodded and sighed. “Yep. That’s home…”
Jon turned toward him. “It’s huge.”
Trip shrugged and smiled. “It’s not as big as it looks… The living area’s only on the first floor… The second and third floors are for the observatory.”
“And Trip’s workshop,” T’Pol added.
Trip chuckled. “Yeah, and my workshop.”
Trip reached across and took Jon’s bags and slung them over his shoulder. Jon scowled at him as he moved to walk up the steps.
“I’m not letting you carry your stuff Captain… You aren’t used to the thin air and added gravity.” With that, Trip turned and began his way up the stairs. Both he and T’Pol left him there as they began to climb.
About two thirds the way up, Jon was relieved by Trip carrying his stuff. His legs felt heavy and the thin air made it difficult to get enough oxygen for the climb. He shot Trip a jealous look. I’m not that much older than he is and he’s not having any trouble at all. A smirk came across Jon’s face when he looked at T’Pol. I shouldn’t feel too bad. She’s carrying their stuff. Her load’s even heavier than Trip’s. He decided it wasn’t all that big of a deal to let them shoulder the load.
As they reached the entrance gate, after the grueling climb, Jon heard a blood curdling howl ring through the air. The sound seemed familiar, as if he’d heard it before, but he couldn’t place it. Trip appeared to be briefly startled when they first heard the howl but then started laughing. T’Pol shot him a look that Jon was unable to fathom.
Just as Trip reached to push his way through the gate, he turned to Jon and told him not to be alarmed and that everything was okay. Before Jon understood what his friend was talking about, a large animal lunged toward Trip with its fangs bared.
Jon’s heart started beating even more rapidly but Trip disappeared into the courtyard before Jon could fully comprehend what was going on. He turned to T’Pol who just slightly shook her head before turning her attention to Jon.
“Please, follow me Captain.”
As Jon entered the courtyard he saw Trip on his knees playing with the fearsome animal as it alternately licked his face and hands and rubbed its forehead into his face. Trip for his part was furiously rubbing the animal’s fur and making soft growling sounds to it.
T’Pol set their bags on the ground, which must have attracted the animal’s attention because it shifted its focus away from Trip. The animal bounded toward her and hit her in the thigh, knocking her slightly off balance. While she was no where near as animated as Trip, Jon was certain she welcomed the animal’s attention as she allowed it to rub vigorously against her legs while she stroked the fur on its back. She clearly was not going to allow the animal to lick either her face or hands as Trip had, though.
Jon smiled at the scene before him. He never really imagined T’Pol with a pet… anything.
Jon heard footsteps and turned to see Trip already standing, watching a Vulcan woman and a small child walk toward them. That must be the family that’s staying with them to maintain their house.
Jon watched as Trip raised his right hand in the traditional Vulcan salute and gave the proper greeting. He didn’t need to know much Vulcan to instantly recognize it. T’Pol did the same.
“Greetings, Captain Archer. I trust you had a safe journey,” the woman said to him.
Jon smiled and nodded in response.
He noticed Trip do a double take and even T’Pol turned to consider something.
“Yes, my news is that I have learned to speak English… Now that I am department chair for stellar astrophysics, my interactions with Humans are more frequent and using a translator became too great a burden.”
“Wow,” came Trip’s reply.
“If you have some time, you may wish to teach Commander Tucker,” added T’Pol.
Jon grinned at T’Pol’s teasing. He’d really come to appreciate her razor sharp wit. Trip must have also because he started laughing.
Jon noticed the small child move toward Trip and extend a hand. Trip said something, picked the child up and walked toward a gate at the side of the courtyard. Trip slapped his thigh once and the animal left T’Pol’s side to follow them out. And with that, Jon was left standing in the courtyard with T’Pol and the unknown woman.
T’Pol watched Trip exit the courtyard and sighed.
She must have recognized her oversight as she turned to him. “I apologize, Captain. Please allow me to introduce to you T’Lyr…”
Jon nodded to her.
“She is wife of Skon who maintains the house while we are gone. The child, who just left with Trip, is named Syrk…”
Jon chuckled. He found it amusing Trip just up and left them.
“The last quake exposed an interesting rock formation. Syrk has wanted to show Charles for some time… He has been awaiting your arrival all morning.”
“Captain, if you would follow me, I will take you to the guest room.” T’Pol almost seemed to frown. “I am not certain when Trip will return…”
T’Pol escorted Jon through the house and into a guest room off the south end of the house. She had apologized earlier for it being modest but it was larger than his quarters on Enterprise. It even had its own attached bathroom.
“Captain, feel free to contact Enterprise and have them beam down Porthos when you wish.”
“Thanks T’Pol.” Now that he’d arrived, he completely agreed with her recommendation not to bring him along for the journey. Although he was fairly certain Porthos wouldn’t like being beamed down, he knew he’d have hated traveling all this way even worse. Chef had given Jon some sharp cheddar and he was certain Porthos would quickly forgive him.
Jon decided he’d made the right choice by staying at their home until late tomorrow evening. He needed to get away from Enterprise for a bit. It had been a long time since he stayed in anything resembling someone’s home. He was anxious to see the domesticated version of Charles Tucker III.
Trip finished putting his robes on and returned to the main living area. He saw the Captain sitting on a chair reading while Porthos napped at his feet. He smiled to himself and was glad Porthos calmed down enough to sleep. This morning, they had to put I’Nan outside because she wanted to carry the beagle around like a Sehlat cub. Try as they might, they couldn’t get her to stop. Needless to say Porthos was shaken up by her efforts and eventually found he could protect himself by hiding under the bed in the guess room.
T’Pol was the first to notice him and he felt her curiosity peak. Then the Captain saw him and closed his book.
“Where you going dressed like that?”
Trip sighed. He didn’t want to lie but he also didn’t want either the Captain or T’Pol knowing.
“I have something I need to do in town.”
He felt T’Pol’s curiosity increase and then wane as he made it clear he wasn’t going to explain any further. She simply rose to her feet and approached him. They stared into each other’s eyes and he lifted his fingers to hers. That wonderful, tingling sensation passed through his arm as it always did.
( How long will you be gone? )
Trip shrugged. ( I shouldn’t be long. ) He could sense her slight displeasure at his deception. ( We will talk when I return. Okay? )
That seemed to satisfy her. He almost never hid anything from her and never for very long. He was glad for their bond so she could trust that he would never deceive her.
“See you later Captain!”
Porthos gave a little yelp. “Have fun!” The Captain said and started laughing.
Trip just scowled at him and left.
Less than an hour later Trip walked the halls of the Vulcan Science Directorate. He fought hard to control his laughter at the various students’ and instructors’ reactions when they noticed a blond haired, blue eyed Human wearing Vulcan robes traveling purposefully through the corridor. He still found it hard to believe none had stopped him and asked his purpose or if he was lost. I guess they must just assume I should be here. Either that or they’re too stunned to approach?
Finally he found the corner office he searched out. He quietly knocked on the door. ** “Enter,” ** came the reply and he walked into the office. He couldn’t imagine a more unassuming office for someone so important.
T’Lyr looked up at him. ** “Commander Tucker, I was not expecting you.” **
Trip smiled and nodded.
** “There was no reason for you to come all this way. We could have spoken at the house.” **
Trip shook his head. ** “No. This is official business. In addition, I did not wish T’Pol to be involved.” **
** “Official business?” **
Trip took a deep breath.
** “Yes… Skon tells me you are putting a proposal together for a mission to be launched in the near future.” **
T’Lyr nodded her head. ** “Yes. I have a team completing the proposal at this time.” **
** “Would it be possible to have T’Pol assigned to the science team and myself to engineering?” **
If Trip didn’t know better, he was certain he had just rendered T’Lyr speechless.
She seemed to quickly regroup though. ** “I am unsure. What does Starfleet say about this idea?” **
Trip shrugged. ** “I am not sure. I do not see how it is any of their concern.” **
** “How can it not be? The two of you are Starfleet officers. It would of course be…” **
Trip recognized a slight change in her expression just as she stopped speaking.
** “Are you planning on resigning your commissions?” **
** “Why? I was under the impression the both of you felt the need to serve.” **
Trip took a deep breath and looked away. ** “Yes, that is important to the both of us… However T’Pol has served Starfleet for over nine years… She needs to spend more time with her own people.” **
** “What about you?” **
** “She’s given nearly ten years to Starfleet. I can give a similar amount to the Science Directorate.” **
** “Are you certain you are ready to serve aboard a Vulcan ship? It will be unlike serving aboard a Starfleet vessel.” **
Trip sighed. ** “I assume I am as ready as T’Pol was to serve aboard Enterprise.” ** He paused but then looked right at T’Lyr. ** “I am certain I can adapt.” **
** “I will look into this… I will not mislead you. Since the High Command was disbanded, finding enough skilled crew for our ships has been… challenging. Both of your skills would prove valuable. If you were any other Human, my answer would most likely be no… However, I believe you could adapt to life aboard a Vulcan science vessel.” **
Trip smiled at her. ** “Will you consider it then?” **
T’Lyr nodded. ** “I will… When do you plan on informing Starfleet of your resignations?” **
Trip rolled his tongue around his cheek. ** “I am unsure. I feel we cannot resign in good conscience before the Romulan War is officially over… Once that occurs, I have every intention of immediately resigning.” **
T’Lyr sat quietly in her office with Trip sitting in front of her. Trip felt like she wanted to say something but was formulating the question in her head. Either way, she didn’t seem ready for him to leave, so he didn’t.
** “Why do you not simply serve in Starfleet’s scientific arm? It would be an easier transition.” **
Trip shook his head. He had already expected this question and decided to tell her the full truth. There really was no other way. ** “T’Pol has served aboard Human ships over nine years. It is not fair to her to insist she continue to spend time away from her own people.” ** Trip closed his eyes and took a deep breath. ** “In addition, I do not want her on a warship any more.” ** In truth, that was his real reason. Although there was always risk is space travel, serving aboard a Vulcan science vessel had about as little as any he could imagine, short of a space station or shipyard. Neither of them would be happy with an assignment like that.
T’Lyr seemed to consider his admission. ** “Could you not request service on a scientific vessel?” **
** “We could, but Starfleet may not honor the request. We have significant combat experience and I expect that we will always be assigned to a capital ship.” ** Admiral Cragen had already informed him he was going to lift the duty restrictions he, himself, imposed on Trip and T’Pol and wanted to assign them to the Yorktown, along with Captain Archer as soon as reasonably possible.
That meant T’Pol would be on the bridge of a warship and Trip found that idea unacceptable.
There was an extended pause as T’Lyr appeared to consider his request and subsequent revelations.
** “I will do what I can to honor your request.” ** T’Lyr stood up. ** “Good day Commander.” **
“Thank you for seeing me, T’Lyr,” he replied in English.
She paused for a bit before answering. “There is no need to express gratitude, Commander.”
Trip smiled and nodded. “Okay… See you tonight… Also, T’Pol doesn’t know why I came by today… I’d appreciate it if you kept this between us for now.”
T’Lyr’s expression changed slightly but she nodded in agreement. Trip left her office. All that remained now was to inform T’Pol of his decision. Hopefully she’d agree with him. He chuckled to himself as he walked through the corridor. He didn’t want to invoke that whole her being his property business. He stiffened up and decided he would though if it meant he could get her safely away on a Vulcan science vessel. She doesn’t know it yet, but her days aboard a Starfleet ship are numbered. He grinned to himself as he thought about her initial reaction.
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A whole mess of folks have made comments
Nice addition, Kevin, although I'm a little annoyed that you stole my idea about Section-31, Malcolm and T'Pol. :-D I had the same thought a while back but never did anything with it.
And who knew Trip's grandmother was a Vorlon? :-D
The image of a sehlat carrying Porthos around in its mouth is one that I'm going to be carrying around for quite a while. :-D
Really liked how protective Trip is here and wanting to get T'Pol off of a frontline warship is entirely logical, although I wouldn't want to be the one to remind him of the Seleya...
I like the concept of Trip embracing Vulcan culture. It bodes well for when they decide to have children. I imagine these future children would be raised on Vulcan. Though, he deserves a bit of an ass-whuppin' for making life-altering decisions for T'Pol without consulting her.
Was he concerned that she would not agree? Or is this a gift to T'Pol? If the latter, he still deserves a kick, but then a kiss. ;D
I also like the egalitarian situation of the home. Clearly T'Lyr and Skon aren't servants, but important scientific personnages themselves. At least T'Lyr. I can't remember what Skon does, if he has a profession outside the home. Or is he raising the child? From what I gather, they maintain the property and in return live in what sounds like a gracious home. It sounds logical and pleasant. I'm sure there's a legal agreement to the arrangement to clarify duties. Nice concept.
Everyone will find out more about Trip's reasoning and T'Pol's reaction in the next story, probably in April sometime.
The question about Skon and T'Lyr is a good one. I worked out the details of how they came to live with TnT, but so far I don't have any good way to work it into a story. Here's the scoop for those who are interested.
Solkar is Skon's father. He is a diplomat stationed off Vulcan. Skon and T'Lyr, prior to having Syrk, lived off Vulcan somewhere with Solkar. Skon was one of T'Les' equivalent of "grad" students. T'Lyr's parents were Syrannittes who were killed in the attack on T'Karath along with T'Les. When Skon went through Pon'farr and T'Lyr got pregnant, they decided to return to Vulcan to raise their children on their homeworld.
The only problem was that since Solkar lived off world for so long, his family had no property on Vulcan. When the VHC found T'Lyr's parents were Syrannittes, they seized her family's property and raized their home. However, T'Pau felt personally responsible for T'Lyr since she was so close to her parents. Although she had no property of her own, she asked T'Pol to take in Skon and T'Lyr as a personal favor. T'Pol knew Skon when she was younger, since he was one of her mother's students, and so also felt some responsibility to help them if she could.
TnT agreed since their home is quite large (actually an estate) and they needed someone to maintain it. T'Pol's father's family was prominent/wealthy and therefore had significant property holding. So Skon and T'Lyr live in their home while maintaining the property. The homes for prominent Vulcan families are large enough to accomodate an extended family so it's easily large enough for Skon, T'Lyr, Syrk (and eventually Sarek), Trip, T'Pol, a guest room and a couple more rooms for the future. T'Les had a fully equipped observatory built on the second and third floors and T'Lyr is able to take advantage of the facility when she can't be at the Directorate.
Skon is a mathematics instructor and T'Lyr is the department chair of stellar astrophysics at the Vulcan Science Directorate in Shi'Kahr. I'm not quite sure how they share the child raising duties, so let's say each stays home every other day.
This was good. Trip on a Vulcan vessel, I'm looking forward to read about that. That could be very interesting. Really wanna know T'Pols reaction to the whole thing. Please update soon.
After some additional consideration, your math doesn't work, Kevin. Reed was assigned and aboard ENT *before* T'Pol was assigned there. Either Section 31 is a lot better than they came across on the show, or Malcolm is misremembering. Solution: he was "reactivated" by Section 31 following T'Pol's assignment to the NX-01...
I have an answer for that based on Malcolm's wording. He says he was assigned to Enterprise 'to keep tabs on the Vulcan', not to keep tabs on T'Pol. He was to watch whomever was assigned and make sure they didn't get in the way. T'Pol turned out to be the Vulcan, but Vulcans were always going to require a babysitter to be aboard Enterprise. In fact, if Columbia had been launched prior to "Kir'shara", it would have had a Vulcan babysitter also. And likewise, Section 31 would have had one or more operatives watching that individual. Or at least in my storyworld...
Ahhh...good answer. Carry on.
Oh, something else I forgot to mention, but was asked before was about officer grades and ranks. I'm taking the approach that Starfleet, as a non-military organization, had a very simple rank structure. Crewman, Ensign, Lieutenant, Commander, Captain, Admiral and Fleet Admiral, nothing else. Once the Romulan War started, a Commodore was added to coordinate day to day operations for a group of ships. For example, Commodore Branch was operationally responsible for the NX and NC class ships. Another Commodore, let's call him Commodore Schiff, was responsible for the Intrepid class which were more numerous and formed the backbone of the war effort. That freed up Admiral Cragen to work out development and deployment strategies for the Intrepid, NX and NC class ships.
On an NX class ship during the War, there would normally be three Commander positions, one for each department. The three departments were weapons/tactical, science/sensors/communications and engineering. Commander Kincaid is WSO for weapons/tactical, Commander T'Pol is science officer for science/sensors/communications and Commander Tucker is chief engineer. Lieutenant Reed is Commander Kincaid's second, Lieutenant Sato is Commander T'Pol's second and I don't know Commander Tucker's second is since I move Lieutenant Hess off Enterprise and killed off Lieutenant Southerlyn.
All I can say is that Trip is one seriously BRAVE man to make unilateral career decisions for someone who's capable of doing serious damage to both his ego and his bones if he pisses her off. If I were T'Pol, I would NOT respond well to having a decision like this made for me... and Surak FORBID he should EVER raise the "ownership" issue. I'm interested to see where you take this.
Sometimes comments completely baffle me.
When I move T'Pol in any way remotely close to acting emotional, no matter how privately she may be doing it, I get told my T'Pol is not in character. Now I have two comments saying that T'Pol damn well better act emotional and get pissed off because that's what a woman would do.
My guess is that you may as well not bother reading the next story. The New World Man version of T'Pol is Vulcan. I don't know how she's going to react, but it won't be violent, it won't be overly emotional and it won't be filled with rage. This is T'Pol five years after her last Trellium injection, not half way through "Damage".
Although I may just skip it altogether. I don't need a bunch of people telling me my writing is disgusting and they won't ever read anything more from me again. How T'Pol reacts to this is mostly irrelevant in the New World Man series so leaving it out won't affect the series in the slightest.
I actually thought you were going to pull a fast one, Kevin, and have Trip find out that T'Pol was doing the same thing behind *his* back in order to get *him* off the front lines. :p
I don't actually think that they were necessarily saying that she's out of character; they just put themselves in that position and reacted EMOTIONALLY. :p
Kevin has a good point though, Distracted. You're looking at the situation from a Human-centric POV and T'Pol is not human. YOU might not respond well to your mate making such a decision without consulting you but your human-centric POV is the reason for that. From what I've seen of Vulcans, I could easily see T'Pol not only agreeing to the new job but also congratulating Trip on an excellent use of logic.
And I for one really like your take on T'Pol, Kevin.
There's no point in getting defensive, Kevin. I wasn't criticizing... just commenting.
I see your viewpoint, Rigil, but an independently minded being... female OR male... Vulcan OR Human... which we know T'Pol to be, or she'd have never left the Science Directorate and stayed on Enterprise... is not going to be pleased with someone else making unilateral decisions FOR her without consulting her first.
Trip's behavior itself is emotional and not logical. If he were truly being logical, he'd sit down with her and have a straightforward, logical discussion of their options and what her preferences were. Instead, he's being secretive, which implies to me that he's anticipating a reaction from her that is emotional and NOT logical.
Of course it makes more sense from a logical point of view to stay off the front lines during a war so you don't get killed if you have something significant to contribute other than being cannon fodder, but I think he's afraid she'll act emotionally and not want to desert her human allies in a crisis.
How she actually reacts is, of course. up to Kevin. If he says she won't get angry, then she won't. It's his story. Trip is obviously afraid she might, though, otherwise he wouldn't be hiding his actions. For that reason, if for no other reason, I still think Trip's being very brave... and kinda dense... in an endearingly masculine "lemme take care of you darlin'" kind of way. : )
Being "pleased" or "displeased" is an emotional state, Distracted. And besides, we already know the real reason that T'Pol stayed on ENT is because her *friend* was hurting. Oh yeah, and to help save Earth too. :p
I get your argument re: Trip acting without T'Pol's input but see it more as an action that she will approve of since, from a certain POV, he's trying to protect her. I point to NWM: Vulcan Biology 101 as exhibit A. T'Pol's own words: "Protecting his mate is a primal drive for a Vulcan male. It happens unconsciously. I believe that is why you attempted to prevent me from testing the telepresence unit and later crossed the cable to Enterprise."
Hence, he's just doing what comes naturally in regards to the Bond. You just don't agree with his methods. :p
But, again in Kevin's defense, Trip merely ASKED T’Lyr if it was possible to be assigned to a science vessel and she told him she'd look into it. Given what we've seen of the bond thus far, it seems very likely that T'Pol will be aware of what Trip is planning LONG before T'Lyr accomplishes this task. They'll have an argument (with Trip being emotional and T'Pol being cool and calm), come to an agreement, then make up.
The defense rests.
LOL! Good job, Rigil. I agree that that is what will probably happen... but since Trip is obviously afraid of telling her about it, I STILL think he's being very brave. Bravery, after all, is doing something you think is right DESPITE your fears, right?
Maybe T'Pol will approve of his attempts to protect her, or at least understand them, based on her understanding of the way the bond works. In a similar situation, I might understand his motivation, but still be concerned that his unilateral decision making might set a precedent for future decisions without my consent that might not be so favorable. But then... as you pointed out... I'm not Vulcan. I AM female, though. We don't like men making decisions for us without our consent or knowledge. : )
This is a great series you've got going here. I'm really enjoying it. Hope there's lots more to come.
Don't leave out how she reacts, please. Want to read about that.
Distracted: You go girl! I was about to say exactly the same thing. T'Pol will NOT "like," "appreciate," "find it logical" (however you want to put it) that Trip would pull a "you're my property" on her. Furthermore, Trip would NEVER do or thing of doing such as thing. He is COMPLETELY egalitarian with the sexes in the official series and in almost all the rest of Kevin's stories. (I remember the last time Kevin had something like this in a story and it really stood out to me as anomolous.)
BUT . . . other than the last paragraph, THIS STORY IS PERFECT!!! I think it is the best one yet in your New World Man series. I love the plot twists; I love the covert PG sexual tension (Very, very sexy AND PG--that's tricky) Good job. I love the atmosphere of the whole story--especially when they spend time at their house on Vulcan. I love your whole idea that Trip would adapt so well to Vulcan culture and be so open to it. Your extensive backstory really makes your stories shine; they are more real and full of surprises because of it. There were alot of great lines and moments in this story: I was startled when T'Pol answered Jon in Trip's voice. I could go on, but Two Thumbs Way Up on the first 99.9 percent of this story! That's an A+!
P.S. Bucky likes you best. Your Trip got to say "ain't."
I so love this series! It always keeps me wondering what will happen next to TnT and the fate of the other characters. It's quite unpredictable. I actually like the idea of Trip taking control and deciding what's best for him and T'pol at this point of the story. Very human of him.
The on-going comments on this story have convinced me I need to change how I was going to approach the next one. I've pretty much been convinced that if I don't have T'Pol react like an American woman in 2006, there will be hell to pay.
The next story is vitally important to the series (one of three, with "Vulcan Biology 101" being the only one posted so far). I don't want the important parts of the story ignored due to a sideshow. T'Pol's reaction is largely irrelevant and I'm not willing to cave in how I think T'Pol will react. Showing Trip's reasons behind his decision, T'Pol's reaction to the United Federation of Planets treaty and revealing one more detail are important to understanding the rest of the stories. T'Pol's reaction to Trip's decision, while interesting, simply isn't important enough to allow the rest of the story to be derailed. I'll probably show Trip's reasoning by having him sit down in a man to man with Jon.
I guess I'm kind of disappointed in some of the reaction. I would have thought by now, I'd earned some measure of credit in laying the foundation and tone for this story-especially after the first scene where it's pretty clear Trip has just gone through two very emotionally traumatic experiences. He's far more attached to T'Pol and look how he reacted to losing people he simply trained. Two of the sentences in the last paragraph have Trip chuckling and grinning. Those appear largely ignored.
Trip is not going to allow T'Pol to be on another Starfleet warship. If he has to use the nuclear option, he's going to. I would have thought though by now it would be clear he won't have to.
Kevin... I don't think you understand what I'm trying to say here. This is YOUR story. Go ahead and write it the way YOU interpret your characters. None of us are trying to force you to change your vision or to "cave" to pressure to change your view of T'Pol. I can't speak for Binah or justTrip'n, but from my point of view, I find this debate quite fascinating.
What we're dealing with here, I think, is a core difference in male vs female thinking. I am commenting on the story from the point of view of the female, trying to foster discussion about independence in relationships... the delicate balance between being a COUPLE, and yet still being individuals at the same time. I really don't think the typical single male understands the female need to retain her own identity and decision-making capacity within a relationship. If you talk to the typical happily married male, such as my husband, for example, I think you will find that he has a better understanding of the issue. (Of course, being an OB/GYN also probably gives my husband an unfair advantage here!)
Kevin, I don't need you to "fix the problem". That's also a typically male response to a difference of opinion.(Have you ever read "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus"? It's an old book, but very accurate in its depiction of male vs female thought processes. In that book, the author describes how women like to discuss relationships, while men are problem oriented and often focus more on "fixing the problem" rather than the discussion itself.) All I'm trying to do is to provide you with the female POV. What you do with it is YOUR choice. This is your story, and, quite frankly, I'm really interested in seeing what you're gonna do with it. Please don't skip over the scene because you're afraid of our reaction to it. I really DON'T expect T'Pol to react like a modern human woman in this instance, and I really want to read your version of how this plays out.
Your last two replies, Distracted, demonstrate exactly what I'm talking about. You speak of your POV of view as if it's a universal female point of view. I know for a fact it is not. It is a modern, American/Western cultural POV. It's not even representative of many, many women in 2006 on the planet Earth, let alone represents in any way a possible relationship between a 2160 Human male who's been bonded for five years to a Vulcan female.
And before I start getting lectures about how females react, I've had significant exposure over the past twenty years to traditional, but current, Chinese, Indian and Muslim cultures and marriages. While I, in no way, claim to be an expert in, or to even fully understand those cultures, I feel I do understand them well enough to say without hesitation, there is no such thing as a universal point of view, male or female. Referencing various self help books is meaningless as evidence because they present the American (or at most the Western) culture as the only/correct one.
You speak of your response as if its some inherent biologic thing having to do with women, when it's completely cultural based. I simply don't trust you to allow me the flexibility to create a cultural reaction much different from an American woman in 2006. Therefore, based on experience, I'm not willing to put my next story at risk by including T'Pol's reaction. The story is far too important to the series to get derailed by the topic. I want people to understand Trip's reasoning because it shows how he's personally evolved since "Terra Prime" and foreshadows some of opinions and traits he'll possess later in the series. I don't want anyone to ignore the 90% of the story that's important because they can't get past their dislike for the 10% of the story that's not.
While I don't particularly know what T'Pol's reaction would be because I never fully thought it through, so far none of the comments on how she should react seem right. They simply don't sound appropriate for a Vulcan female, raised in what appears to be a conservative/prudish/logical society who's "shared her very existance" with an emotional Human male. I believe it would be far more subtle, far more subdued and far more understanding than comments made here lead me to believe is acceptible to some.
You're absolutely right, Kevin. There are many cultural aspects of male/female relations that I have no experience with. I can see your point that not ALL women would respond in the way that I would respond in a given situation. Independence in relationships is not a luxury that many women within the more repressive societies on our planet have the opportunity to experience, but cultural mores which allow the subjugation of one group of people at the expense of another should be changed, not celebrated, IMO. The Star Trek philosophy of IDIC...I interpret it ultimately as an overreaching respect for the right of each individual to be themselves... which is so well portrayed in all of the various series, movies, books, and fanfics that I have read, does not seem to jive with the concept of one person being the "property" of another. I understand that not all cultures within the Star Trek universe will adhere to this philosophy, but it seems to me that the creators of said philosophy... the Vulcans... would be expected to do so.
Of course, being willing to GIVE oneself freely to another is not at all the same thing as being OWNED by them. I can see your version of T'Pol making this decision. I can also see your version of Trip being willing to do ANYTHING to protect the one person who is more important to him than his own life. I really like your take on his devotion to her. It's very romantic.
I am not of the opinion that the modern Western female POV is the only one. It's merely the one which 90% of your female readers will likely hold to. I don't think you give me enough credit for being open-minded, Kevin. I really don't think a scene about T'Pol's reaction to this, should you choose to include it, will "derail" your story. I think it will enhance it. And it is, of course, entirely your decision whether or not to include her response... although after all this discussion I think that many of us might be a bit disappointed if you don't. BTW... an understanding, subdued and subtle response sounds very Vulcan and in-character to me. : )
Now THIS is feedback. You should feel pleased, Kevin! I just get compliments on how well I blow stuff up or kill off characters. LOL.
Seriously, do what your Muse dictates. If you think the story needs the scene, go for it. If not, go for that too. Either way, I've been absolutely fascinated (in a good way!) with your NWM story and will continue to read...
Once more from me, please put the scene in.
I think that the "not wanting to be property" feeling is not cultural but is something fundamental to all sentient beings--particularly sentient beings who have had a taste of freedom, as T'Pol has all these years. Think of the "cogenitor" who asked for asylumm after Trip taught it to read and took it around the ship. By the way, right or wrong, Trip's actions in that episode, his concern for human rights, were one of the main reasons I feel for him.
I beleive we do have something to learn from Muslim/Arabic/and some Asian and other cultures. In particular, I know that arranged marriages often turn out well. I think that fact should give science fiction fans something to think about becuase it call into question certian of our unquestioned beliefs.
I also know that there are some practices that thought culturally accepted, somewhere, are just plain wrong. I was closely involved with an Asian culture in which the future wife is "kidnapped" (often at age 14 to 16), and brought to the future husband's house prior to the wedding. Often the "kiddnapping" is symbolic or playacting, and the fiance goes along with the whole thing and helps to arrange it. But sometimes the kidnapping is the real thing and amounts to rape of a minor.
Kevin, it must be annoying that everyone is focusing on one line in your story. Please be assurred I am a huge fan of your work and will read on whichever way you go. But I just LOVE debate!
Great story. I like all the series so far. Please keep writing, whatever you feel/think is the best way to tell your story.
And I agree with Rigil THIS is feedback.
By the way, I thought Trip was being quite sensitive with T'Pol, by getting her out of a war ship even without asking her. I've allways thought she was kind of a pacifist and avoiding violence would be one of her musts.
Just my 2 cents.
i just wish you had gone into it more in this story why trip thought he had to sneak behind tpol's back in making a decision for her.
it especially can be seen a belittling trip's view of tpol's intelligence and use of logic.
as for the vulcan baby sitter .. sorry considering this conversation that wasnt the intent at all.
hoshi and archer/..
"I thought you said the Vulcans
and later jon and trip..
jon.."Admiral Forrest says
trip... " I thought
jon.. "Four days there
the whole implication of the conversations was that there originally wouldnt have been a vulcan at all on board.
the decision for her to stay didnt come up until the end of the episode.
overall i have really enjoyed the series but just wondered about the two above things.
Man, can you guys comment, or what? Great stuff, Kevin, and I can't wait to see what happens next! :)
Took me a while to get all the way down here to comment, but man this was a great story.
I thoroughly enjoy your stories and writing. I see absolutely no problem with the characters as you present theme writing about an alien as percieved and modeled in your own universe. They may or may not be as I "see" them but that matters not. Yes T'Pol is based on a persona presented on screen indeed an alien. However you are not the first nor will you be the last to present her differently.
Follow your muse and write what you find true to your vision.
The quickest path to mediocrity is hold opinion polls and write what they dictate.
You can argue all day about how we bad female reviewers are foistering our "American" views upon you and T'Pol (arrogant of you to assume that's where we all live, by the way) but frankly, it's out of Character for T'Pol to be aokay with Trip making her decisions for her. What's the point of reading fan fic where the characters don't act in character?
And if you honestly think Vulcan women and Muslim women have anything in common, what are you smoking? I haven't exactly been told that a Vulcan woman's place is in the home, to be protected by HER MAN, which is exactly what you are trying to shove down our throats in this story.
By the way, a woman's opinion on how a woman of ANY culture should react is simply more accurate of any man of any culture. It's sad that you don't realize that.
Maybe you should worry more about the characters AS PORTRAYED ON SCREEN rather than forcing across your agenda.