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New World Man: Daedalus
Author - Kevin | Genre - Drama | Main Story | N | Rating - PG
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New World Man: Daedalus
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).
For the purposes of this series, the “NC class” is the same as the “Daedalus class” described at Memory Alpha. You can see a picture of the ship there. I moved up the timeframe so the first prototype is complete in the spring of 2158 and kept the name Daedalus for the prototype.
Why the hell are we going to Vulcan? Captain Ben Stone wondered as his ship, Challenger, raced toward Vulcan. Admiral Cragen came aboard that morning and ordered them to Vulcan at best speed. Challenger was traveling at Warp 5.8–the maximum recommended cruising speed for the second generation of NX class ships. After losing her first set of nacelles to Enterprise, she received engine and nacelle upgrades capable of Warp 6+ speeds. Over the past year she’d been in service, the Challenger crew found the maximum safe speed was indeed just over Warp 6. The NX class hull design began to suffer structural integrity failures between Warp 6 and Warp 6.1.
“Sir, Admiral Cragen’s ready to see you now.”
Captain Stone nodded to his communications officer. “You’ve got the bridge, number one,” he said succinctly to his tactical officer and rose to join Admiral Cragen in Ben’s ready room. After joining the Admiral, he looked across the table to the Admiral and asked, “so why you have us hauling ass to Vulcan?”
“I’ve got a new assignment for you Ben.”
Ben was stunned. “I’ve barely had this ship a year.”
Cragen nodded. “I know. I’ve got a new one for you.”
Ben’s expression turned to confusion. “What other ship? Atlantis and Endeavor aren’t ready and Archer’s got Enterprise…” Then it dawned on him. He slumped his shoulders. “I’m getting an Intrepid class aren’t I?” He shook his head as he tried to recall what he did to piss off Cragen or Gardner.
Cragen gave a quiet chuckle. “Geeze, Ben, cheer up. I haven’t even told you about it and already you’ve assumed the worst… I’m not giving you an Intrepid class… Although I’d suggest you change your tone about them outside of this office. They’re the backbone of our war effort. Not everyone gets to roam the galaxy in an NX ship!”
Ben lifted his head to look at the Admiral. Cragen’s face was deadly serious.
“I’m giving you another ship–a prototype. She’s the Daedalus–the first of our new NC class of starships.”
Ben shook his head. “I’ve never heard of that before…” Then the realization dawned on him. “That’s why we’re heading to Vulcan. Starfleet built it in secret, didn’t we?”
Cragen nodded. “Yeah. We’ve got a secret shipyard around the second moon of the eighth planet. Only a few Vulcans even know about it… You shook the bugs out of Challenger faster than any of us could have hoped. I need you to do the same thing with Daedalus. We’re shooting for six more in two years, which means we have to start building in the next couple months. She’s basically got the same weapons systems as Challenger, but with higher output due to a stronger engine.”
“How much better?”
“The engine’s capable of Warp 7. So far we’ve had her up to Warp 6.8. Commander Tucker says she’ll travel all day at Warp 6.6.”
Ben couldn’t believe it. It could cruise thirty percent faster than Challenger’s maximum speed. They’d be able to effortlessly intercept any Romulan ambush.
“Plus, her shields are almost fifty percent again as strong and phase cannon output is nearly double Challenger. She’s the first dedicated warship we’ve ever built. We’ve also added some internal shielding to defend against their fission mines… Even if the ventilation system is compromised, the radiation should be contained to that section of the ship.”
Ben shook his head. He couldn’t believe the step up.
“About the only problems she’s got is that you’ve have to drop to impulse to get full shield strength and phase cannons. At Warp 6.5 you’ve got less than twenty percent shield strength. At 6.8 you basically have no shields. The cannons can only be fired at impulse speeds. When traveling at Warp you can only launch torpedoes.”
Ben snorted. “I can live with that. We can’t raise shields at Warp on Challenger at all. What she got for torpedo launchers?”
“Two fore, two aft. She carries a mix of Mark IV and Mark V photonic torpedoes.”
Ben scowled. “Admiral, I…”
Cragen raised his hand and interrupted Ben. “We’ve already had this discussion, Ben. Starfleet’s deploying Mark V torpedoes and that’s final… It’s not open for discussion.”
“Yes, sir,” Ben replied quietly. He understood Starfleet’s desire for higher yield torpedoes but the Mark V’s approached the limits of safety. They required special handling and protection to prevent them from detonating inside the armory. They were also ‘dirtier’ than previous designs and relied on an initial fission reaction to gain a higher yield from the subsequent matter/anti-matter explosion. The initial plutonium burst ensured a more rapid matter/anti-matter annihilation, but left a radiation ‘residue’ not all that unlike the Romulan fission mines, only on a smaller scale.
He and several others had protested that Starfleet was going down the same path used by the Romulans and predicted that soon both sides would revert to using fission weapons to cheaply kill large numbers of soldiers. Essentially their concerns were dismissed out of hand by Starfleet command. The same old tired excuse of “we are at war,” was trotted out to justify all sorts of behavior that normally would have been inexcusable.
Admiral Cragen turned the display panel to Ben. “This is Daedalus… Or at least that’s what she’ll look like after the spherical section’s installed. Right now she’s just an engineering hull and nacelles. We need to take her back to Earth for the spherical section install… Commander T’Pol will bring you up to speed as your science officer and Commander Charles Tucker already has his core engineering team in place.”
Captain Stone sat looking at the diagram. He shook his head. “Admiral, that is one butt-ugly ship…”
Admiral Cragen laughed. “Yeah, but she packs quite a wallop, as you can see. Once the war started, we focused on making her best warship we could–not the prettiest.”
Ben grinned at the Admiral. “And it shows,” they both laughed at his brief, but obvious statement.
Ben decided to broach an uncomfortable subject with the Admiral. He took a deep breath and summoned all his courage. “Admiral, permission to speak freely?”
Ben saw the Admiral cock his head and give him a puzzled look. “Sure Ben, what’s on your mind?”
“It’s about Commander Tucker, sir.”
“Umm hunh…” Cragen just nodded.
“I would prefer to have a different chief engineer.”
Cragen acted completely surprised. “Why? You have a beef with him?”
“Sir, I’ve heard things… I’m just not sure he’s the best man for the job.”
“What have you heard?” The Admiral gave him a look like he suddenly remembered something long forgotten. “Is this about that time he was on Columbia?”
Ben tilted his head back and forth and winced. “Well that’s part of it. And…”
“There were medical reasons for that behavior,” Cragen interrupted. “I can’t go into the details, but if you look at his service record, you’ll see that wasn’t normal at all… He’s been an outstanding leader and teacher.”
“That’s not what I heard… I heard he was biting everyone’s head off and threatened to bust Lieutenant Southerlyn down to crewman for incompetence.”
Admiral Cragen nodded. “Well, I told you that was a special case. He was having medical problems that weren’t diagnosed until later.”
Ben made a face that betrayed his disbelief. “I’ve also heard stories about he and Commander T’Pol–like they speak to each other in some kind of made up language.”
Cragen gave a snort. “Don’t believe everything you hear Ben. That one got blown way out of proportion… It wasn’t a made up language–they just jumbled around English and Vulcan when they spoke to each other.” Cragen chuckled a bit. “I think Trip called it ‘Vulclish’ or something like that… Anyway I put a stop to that as soon as I heard about it. It wasn’t a problem since the first few months they worked alone together or with one or two Vulcans but they got into some bad habits–they got sloppy.”
“I don’t know…” Ben could tell he was coming close to crossing a line with Admiral Cragen. He had to tone it down a notch.
“If you don’t believe me Ben, why don’t you ask Lieutenant Southerlyn herself? We’ll see her this afternoon.”
It was Ben’s turn now to be surprised. “You mean Serena’s here? On this project? Working under Commander Tucker?”
“Yes. She’s practically Trip’s right hand… I think she knows the nacelles better than the people who designed them.”
Ben took a deep breath. “Still I would prefer to have Commander Stabler as my chief engineer.”
Cragen shook his head. “Not going to happen Ben. Elliot’s leading construction on the Carolina. We expect to start the engineering section next month.”
“Why can’t Commander Tucker have the Carolina?”
“She’s going on the front lines. I can’t assign Trip to her… I need Elliot there.” Ben saw Admiral Cragen take a deep breath and frown. “Ben, this doesn’t leave this room, got it?”
Ben just nodded.
“Starfleet’s still not sure what to make of Commander Tucker and Commander T’Pol’s marriage. The Vulcans insist that physically separating them for long periods of time is risky. They also insist that his judgment may be impaired where she’s concerned and based on some of the things I’ve seen, I tend to agree… Plus a lot of people back home are skittish about having a Vulcan in a command role on a warship… Not to mention the Vulcans themselves who are adamant she not be on one at all, regardless of her role. Daedalus is going to be our prototype, testing and training platform as we rush new ships into service… We don’t have time to build a training facility so Daedalus is going to do double duty.”
Ben shook his head. “Okay… I guess I see your point.”
Cragen stood up and straightened his uniform. “Ben, you need to go into this with an open mind. They know the ship’s systems better than anyone and Trip’s repeatedly demonstrated he’s the best engineer and teacher I’ve got… You better make this work. Don’t force me to revisit the command structure on Daedalus. I’ve got too many things more important to worry about than how the two of you get along.”
Ben stiffened at that statement.
“Understood, Captain?” Cragen’s look was uncharacteristically stern.
“Aye, aye, sir.” Ben understood the Admiral’s statement clearly. Given any conflict between he and Commander Tucker, Ben most likely wouldn’t come out with the long end of the stick. He probably would be reassigned.
Captain Ben Stone stared awestruck out the shuttle’s window as it slowly made its way around the shipyard where Daedalus’ engineering hull and nacelles had been brought together. The first thing he noticed was its sheer size. Although he knew from the specs it was over thirty percent larger than Challenger, he had to see the result for himself to fully comprehend the ship’s size. “She’s huge.”
Admiral Cragen nodded. “Had to be. Look at the size of the engineering hull.”
Ben also noticed how the nacelles were mounted in a pronounced V-shape. Normally Starfleet ships mounted their nacelles either directly opposed to their engineering hull or slightly upswept as in the NX class. That was not the case with Daedalus. Even without the spherical section mounted the ship looked… powerful.
A short while later the shuttle jerked slightly as it connected with the shipyard’s airlock. A quick hiss indicated the seal had been achieved and they were free to leave its very cramped confines. Ben was annoyed that only a single Lieutenant awaited their arrival. Neither Commander Tucker nor Commander T’Pol appeared, as they should have. Neither was any of Commander Tucker’s staff present. Ben recognized Lieutenant Mike Logan, Commander T’Pol’s second, from the duty roster as their lone representative.
Admiral Cragen didn’t appear as annoyed or at least he concealed it well. “At ease, Mike.” Ben saw the rigid Lieutenant only slightly relax. “Where’s T’Pol?” Cragen asked.
“She sends her regrets Admiral… She’s still meeting with the Vulcans.” Ben smiled once he parsed the statement. “They are being quite insistent on the need for an escort. She is trying to convince them the logic of Starfleet’s position.”
Ben didn’t understand what they were talking about. “Come again, Lieutenant?” Ben seemed to have startled the Lieutenant as if he just realized someone besides the Admiral was present.
“Sorry sir… The Vulcans are insisting the Tar’Hana provide escort. They’re concerned our return trip will take us close to Orion space and they do not want their technology falling into Orion hands.”
Ben shrugged as he considered that. “That seems like a reasonable request.” He quite didn’t understand the problem.
Cragen turned to Ben. “Commander T’Pol doesn’t believe they are being completely truthful in their demand. Both the Hornet and Daedalus can outrun any Orion interceptor.”
“That’s a good point,” Ben replied.
“Commander T’Pol’s trying to figure out their real concern.”
Cragen nodded. “Okay. But where’s Trip?”
Lieutenant Logan simply shrugged his shoulders. “I’m not sure, sir. I left word for him that you would be arriving but his second said he was working on a problem and she wasn’t sure when she could tell him. Lieutenant Southerlyn expressed her regrets that she is in the middle of a detailed diagnostic on the port nacelle.”
Before Ben’s annoyance could get away from him he heard Cragen chuckle and shake his head. “It looks like Trip’s taking literally my order of making the ship ready to leave dock his top priority. I guess I’ll need to be more careful with his orders in the future.”
Ben saw a frown come across the Lieutenant’s face. “I’m sure he’s probably just lost track of time, sir. Commander T’Pol is often… ahhh… frustrated… when he loses track of time while working on a problem… She is frequently forced to… retrieve him personally.”
Cragen laughed briefly. “Same old Trip, I guess.”
Lieutenant Logan moved his arm in a sweeping motion. “If you follow me sirs, I’ll show you to main engineering. If Commander Tucker’s not there, at least Lieutenant Southerlyn should be. I believe she’s completing the full diagnostic on both nacelles to make sure we’re ready to go.”
“Lead on Mike,” came Ben’s simple reply.
As they walked through the corridor, Lieutenant Logan turned slightly to Ben and said, “Commander T’Pol also asked that I extend her invitation for you to stay with her and Commander Tucker. They have a spare room and she felt you’d be more comfortable there than in a temporary cabin on the Hornet.”
Ben wasn’t exactly thrilled with her invitation. He still wasn’t sure about the stories he heard of the eccentric couple. However he knew he didn’t want to spend his off hours over the next few days on the hot, dry planet in the company of two people he wasn’t sure he really even wanted on his ship. He chose to politely refuse immediately. “Please extend my gratitude to Commander T’Pol, but…”
Admiral Cragen interrupted him. “I think you should take them up on it Ben.” Cragen’s face was serious. “It’ll give you a chance to get to know your chief engineer and science officer better… Plus you’ll get to see a bit of Vulcan. Their house is beautiful and overlooks a large desert rock formation. The view from their garden as the first sun sets is amazing…” Cragen’s words drifted off, as he seemed to recall some distant memory.
Ben understood Cragen was gently giving him an order without making it appear so. He just nodded. “Tell T’Pol I’ll take her up on her hospitality.”
“Good choice Ben.” Ben wasn’t so sure.
A short while later both Admiral Cragen and Captain Stone entered the enormous main engineering. Ben surveyed the main engine and it became completely clear why the room had to be so large. Even though the engine was less than ten percent longer than the NX engine, it was easily fifty percent again as big around. Three levels of catwalks instead of the normal two surrounded it.
Apparently Cragen spotted who he was looking for and lead Ben to a blond haired woman standing at a status display. When she recognized them, she snapped to attention. “Welcome aboard Admiral, Captain.”
“At ease, Lieutenant,” Cragen said in a fatherly voice and she noticeably relaxed. “Where’s Trip? I want him to meet his new CO.”
“Humph,” replied Lieutenant Southerlyn as she turned to her console. She punched a few buttons, and then made a face. “I wonder why he’s working on that?” she said softly to herself. “Follow me sirs,” she said as she lead them toward the rear of main engineering. In a short while the trio reached an open access panel with a pair of calves and boots sticking out.
“Trip,” she said.
“Yeah,” he replied.
“Admiral Cragen and Captain Stone are here.”
“Shit…” They heard something metallic hit the floor. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“You said you didn’t want to be bothered. You had to get the bypass unit checked out.” Ben saw a slightly nervous look come over her face.
They heard him sigh. “Okay. Let me get out from under this thing… See if you can get Frank to finish up here.” Ben saw Commander Tucker start to wriggle and more of his legs came into view. “Do you think I at least have time to get cleaned up before we have to meet them? Since T’Pol’s stuck on Vulcan, probably both of us should be there instead of leaving Mike by himself…” A smile came over Ben’s face as Commander Tucker wriggled further into view. Commander Tucker had no idea he and the Admiral were standing right at his feet.
“It’s a little late for that Trip,” Admiral Cragen replied.
“Dammit,” Commander Tucker replied. When he finally extracted himself, Commander Tucker gave a sheepish grin and stood up. “Sorry about that. We’re trying to make sure she’s in shape for the trip home.”
“Trip, this is Captain Ben Stone,” Admiral Cragen said.
Ben reached his hand out to shake Commander Tucker’s. Commander Tucker lifted his right hand and Ben’s anger started to rise with it when it looked like Commander Tucker was going to give him a traditional Vulcan greeting. However Ben misjudged and Commander Tucker simply showed him a dirty hand. “Sorry Captain, I’ve got cleaning fluid and lubricant all over me. It’s pretty nasty stuff and I don’t want to get any on you.”
Commander Tucker turned his attention to Lieutenant Southerlyn. “Serena, how about you give them a rundown on the nacelles and that’ll give me time to clean up and I can give the Captain a quick tour before lunch.”
She just nodded. “Sorry sirs,” Commander Tucker said, “let me get cleaned up. I’ll be back in a bit. Serena can show you everything about the nacelles better than anyone else.”
Admiral Cragen just nodded.
Roughly twenty minutes later, while Lieutenant Southerlyn was going through the details of the new Warp coils, a crewman leaned in to whisper something to Admiral Cragen.
“If you’ll excuse me, there’s something I need to take care of,” the Admiral informed them and quickly left with the crewman.
Sometime later Ben heard footsteps approach and he turned his attention from the Lieutenant’s explanation just long enough to see Commander Tucker approach.
“I’m sorry about not showing up when you arrived Captain… Serena and I should’ve been there to welcome you aboard.”
“Don’t sweat it, Commander,” Ben shrugged. He decided to not let his annoyance at Commander Tucker’s first impression cloud his judgment. The Admiral made it clear Ben needed this to work out.
“Why don’t we check out the engine, Captain?” Commander Tucker asked.
Ben nodded and followed him back down into main engineering.
Commander Tucker took Ben through every detail of the engine room. Although it was laid out quite differently than the NX class engine room, fundamentally all of the same components existed. Everything was just larger.
“Commander, I need your signoff on this diagnostic,” an ensign interrupted.
Commander Tucker turned to Ben, “Captain, if you’d like, my office is right over there. Make yourself at home while I review this. It’ll only take a few minutes.”
Ben nodded and went to Commander Tucker’s office. The room was very spartan and kept spotless. He wondered if Commander Tucker even used it. He decided to take a seat and wait for the Commander to return.
On the desk were two moderate sized picture frames. The one on the left had a picture of an older couple and Ben assumed they were Commander Tucker’s parents. The one on the right had a picture of a Vulcan woman in light tan robes with enormous statues in the background. The background appeared slightly out of focus and he assumed she must have been standing in front of a lava field and the heat was causing the distortion. She stood there looking at the camera with her arms folded behind her back and a blank look on her face.
As he stared at the expressionless picture of Commander T’Pol, he wondered again just how these two could have ever gotten together. Not only were they married, but somehow connected to the point where the Vulcans insisted they couldn’t be separated for more than a few days. He recalled the stories he heard of Commander Tucker’s time aboard Columbia. Tucker was an abusive, intense workaholic who did get the ship out of dock but at a high cost. Maybe that’s why the Vulcans insist they can’t be separated? Captain Hernandez told Ben she had mixed feelings about giving him up but it was pretty clear he didn’t want to be on Columbia.
“That’s Mount Tar’Hana.” Commander Tucker’s statement startled Ben out of his daydream.
“The picture. T’Pol’s in front of Mount Tar’Hana.”
“Oh,” Ben nodded. Commander Tucker sat down across the desk from him.
“So what’d you think? Pretty impressive, isn’t she?”
Ben cocked his head. He couldn’t believe Commander Tucker was actually asking him about Commander T’Pol.
Apparently Commander Tucker recognized Ben’s confusion and he gave an amused snort. “The ship, not T’Pol… Well she’s impressive too,” he chuckled slightly, “but she wasn’t who I was asking about.”
Ben nodded uncomfortably. “Yeah. Daedalus is pretty impressive… I think we’ll finally be able to go on the offensive for once when these things go into service… I still can’t believe how familiar the engine is. It’s basically just bigger.”
Commander Tucker shrugged. “It’s still a matter/anti-matter engine. There’s not many ways to skin that cat… The secret is better manufacturing and control systems. They allow the engine to grow and maintain a larger reaction chamber… Do you know we can generate nearly three times the output as Challenger?”
Ben shook his head. He recognized how proud Commander Tucker was of the ship. “If that’s true, why are we stuck at Warp 6.8?” Ben was curious, not accusatory.
Commander Tucker scowled. “We’re still working out the kinks in the nacelles. They’re pretty inefficient above Warp 6.4. I’m sure we’ll figure it out. I’m sure it took the Vulcans a while to get the ring nacelles to work at Warp 7 too.”
“Humph,” Ben replied. Then he heard his stomach growl. He had been running around all morning and now just realized how hungry he was.
Commander Tucker stood up. “Come on, we’ll head down to lunch. I brought some stuff from home today. There’s plenty for everyone.”
A short while later Ben heard footsteps coming up behind them and turned his head to see Admiral Cragen approaching. He slowed down and motioned Commander Tucker to do the same. Commander Tucker turned his head and after seeing the Admiral said, “I didn’t know you were still on board Admiral or I would’ve come got you. Want to join the us for lunch?”
Once the Admiral caught up to them he smiled at Trip and said, “Where’d you think I was going?” Commander Tucker shrugged. “Trip, there’s a reason I brought Ben out here today. I didn’t pick Wednesday at random.”
Trip started laughing and the Admiral joined him as the walked toward the makeshift mess hall. “I’m not following,” Ben said to them.
“Every Wednesday Trip makes lunch for his engineers… He’s gotten pretty famous…”
“More like infamous…” Trip gave an amused snort.
“Hardly… I heard people were fighting over your Vulcan burritos last week,” the Admiral replied. “I figured I’d horn in on some food… What’d you make us today Trip?”
“I call them Vulcan gyros. I found something similar to Pita bread and I’ve got a bunch of different things to stuff in them. You know, sprouts, mushrooms, sliced veggies, some cheese, a few spreads… that kind of stuff.”
“Sounds good,” he heard the Admiral say.
“They don’t put things inside the bread like we would but I found it works the same way. All of the stuff is local but I seasoned everything to match Human tastes more than Vulcan. They like stuff too salty for me and I prefer things a bit hotter so I use more of these things like peppers… Oh and I also made some fruit cocktail.”
Ben’s mouth started watering just hearing Commander Tucker describe the food. Once they entered the small room, people cleared away from the table to allow the Admiral, Captain and Commander Tucker to go through the spread. Rank has its privileges! He was amazed by the variety of colors and types of food on display. Commander Tucker attempted to have all of the similar types of vegetarian stuffings for pocket breads but his use of native Vulcan produce gave everything an exotic, alien feel.
Commander Tucker pointed toward a few dishes. “This is what I put in mine… I use these sprouts… some of these yellow things that taste like cucumbers… some of these mushrooms and this stuff here… it’s like a spicy mayonnaise.”
Ben nodded and looked around.
Commander Tucker continued pointing to different food items. “This stuff here is like a green pepper sauce. It’s not as hot as Jalapeño sauce but it has a similar tangy flavor. Most people who like it also like these things here… they’re like sweet onions… those are bitter greens…”
Ben watched as Admiral Cragen surveyed the table and took a little bit of everything. He stopped and looked around. “Do you have anything like mustard?”
Commander Tucker shook his head. “Vulcans don’t eat meat so I haven’t found anything like mustard. They normally use these different pepper-like things to add kick to their food…” Commander Tucker paused and seemed to be considering something. “Oh and the cheese isn’t Vulcan either…” He raised his head and smiled at the Admiral and Ben. “T’Pol made me stopping eating meat back on Enterprise and it was either have cheese or mix this nasty, powdery stuff with water… It was pretty awful. So I have different cheeses brought here… The stuff over there is just plain old Feta you’d get anywhere on Earth. Nothing special but it tastes pretty good.”
Ben finished his lunch a short time later. He loved the Pitas and ended up following the Admiral’s example of taking a little of everything. The fruit salad wasn’t anything special and decided he preferred Vulcan vegetables to Vulcan fruit. Every piece of fruit seemed to have the texture of apples or pears and with about as much flavor as an over-ripe tomato. Commander Tucker said he only knew of one other type of native fruit but it was only any good for making juice. You really couldn’t eat it because the flesh was far too fragile.
Two hours later Ben observed Commander Tucker read through the briefing material the Admiral provided. His face revealed no reaction as he sat there. Ben wondered if Commander Tucker had spent too much time in the company of Vulcans or if he restrained his response due to a new commanding officer. He also considered the true answer might really be a combination of the two. Finally he grew impatient. “So what do you think?”
Commander Tucker turned away from the PADD. “It’s an interesting idea, Captain. Archer always kept T’Pol on the same shift.”
“I don’t think that’s the right approach for a warship. I’ve kept my XO on the opposite shift to make sure I have a fresh senior officer on the bridge at all times. I don’t want to get caught with a sleepy commander.”
Commander Tucker nodded. “Makes sense… Excuse my asking Captain, but what’s a weapons systems officer? I’ve been out of the loop for the past three years. We didn’t have one on Enterprise.”
“Just after the war started, Starfleet decided the tactical officer needed to remain on the bridge but the armory really needed an officer too. So the brass created a WSO. That way the tactical officer can focus on battle tactics and not have to worry about maintaining the weapons. The WSO has a team so the engineers don’t have to worry about maintaining the weapons systems.”
“Humph,” Trip said with a slight grunt. “Interesting. I guess things sure have changed while I’ve been hidden away out here.”
Ben sighed. He wanted to make sure he and Commander Tucker were on the same page before they left. “Commander, I need to know you and T’Pol aren’t going to have a problem with the command structure on Daedalus.”
Ben saw Commander Tucker straighten up and shoot him a confused look. “Captain?”
Ben twisted his mouth to the side as he carefully considered his words. “Both Commanders Eames and Goren have less experience than you. T’Pol has more experience than all three of us… Both of you are going to be reporting to people with less deep space experience and far less experience on this ship and its capabilities. I just want to know it won’t be a problem.”
Commander Tucker shook his head and smiled. “Don’t worry about it Captain. T’Pol knows she’ll always have more experience than anyone she serves under.” He grunted and gave an amused snort. “As for me, don’t worry about it. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve wanted to be anything more than chief engineer. That desire ended… oh about… the second day Enterprise came out of dock.” Again Commander Tucker chuckled.
Ben wasn’t convinced. You don’t get where he’s been without ambition. “Are you sure?”
“Yeah… You’ve got nothing to worry about Captain.” Ben saw Commander Tucker sigh. “I’m just happy to be on a ship. I didn’t think Cragen would ever let us back on one. I thought sure I’d be stuck in some shipyard or behind a desk for the rest of my career… You can’t believe how much I want to get back out there.” Ben watched as Commander Tucker made this vague sweeping gesture with his hands.
Commander Tucker stood up. “Come on Captain. I’ll take you home and we’ll see how T’Pol’s meeting went… My guess is not well… Vulcans are stubborn as mules when they think they’re right.”
Ben stood up. “Who do you think’ll win the argument?”
“My money’s on the Vulcan…” Commander Tucker said and then started laughing. Ben joined him once he realized what Commander Tucker said.
Commander Tucker shrugged. “Don’t know… Honestly I don’t understand the fuss.”
“What do you mean?”
Commander Tucker shrugged his shoulders and flipped his hands up in confusion. “The Tar’Hana is heading to Earth anyway…”
“Really?” Ben couldn’t understand the issue either then.
“Yeah. All they’re asking is that we leave a couple days later and the ships travel together in a convoy.”
“What the hell’s wrong with that?” With a war going on, a convoy just made sense.
Trip returned another baffled expression. “Don’t know.”
Ben chuckled. “It’s your wife doing the arguing Commander. I thought your connection would let you know stuff like that.”
Commander Tucker shook his head. “It’s not T’Pol’s idea. She’s just doing what she’s told… Plus the Vulcans’ reasons don’t make any sense. Both the Hornet and Daedalus can outrun anything the Orions got… Why would they need the Tar’Hana as an escort? Sure, she’s got more firepower, but I can’t believe we’d engage the Orions when we can just run.”
Ben agreed with his chief engineer. “Yeah, that makes sense. I know I have no intention of engaging them.” Then a crazy idea popped in his head. “Maybe they want us to escort them?” That would be like the Vulcans. Trying to trick us into helping them instead of just asking.
Commander Tucker nodded and smiled. “That’s what I think but T’Pol says that’s not logical.” His tone and facial expression made Ben think he was almost mocking his wife.
“What does she think?”
“She won’t guess.” He shrugged. “Anyway it seems kind of a stupid pissing match to me. All three ships are headed to Earth. I don’t see why we can’t delay until the Tar’Hana is ready to leave… It seems like arguing for the sake of arguing to me.”
Ben nodded. It sure seems that way.
A few hours later, Captain Ben Stone looked at the flight of stairs still remaining until they arrived at Commander Tucker’s house. Inwardly he sighed and wished he had taken Commander Tucker up on his offer to carry his bag. It was very hot and very dry and the additional gravity, which didn’t seemed to bother him at first, now weighed heavily on him.
After a few more steps, Commander Tucker must have recognized his struggle because he reached over and took Ben’s duffle bag and slung it over his shoulder. “I told you Captain to let me carry your bag. I’ve gotten use to this. Cragen’ll have my ass if you fall over dead of a heart attack just walking home,” Trip chuckled to himself. “This is the hottest part of the year.”
Ben nodded. “Thank you, Commander.” A couple steps later he added, “I didn’t realize how much effort it’d take to get to your house.”
When they reached the top of the steps, Ben was taken back at the size of the house and its surrounding area. This was easily the largest home and estate he had seen on their journey. Cragen told him Commander T’Pol inherited the home from her mother and he wondered just how much wealth her family possessed. That must’ve been why they were so determined to get her off Enterprise.
“This way Captain,” Commander Tucker motioned him and opened the gate into the courtyard.
Once again, Ben looked around in disbelief at the courtyard. It was beautiful. He never imagined Vulcans ever creating anything beautiful. The courtyard was decorated with various ornate statues–some of them acting as fountains. He had assumed the home would be a bland, functional place to eat and sleep.
Commander Tucker took a few steps toward the house as Ben took in more of the sights. Just then he heard growling and the movement of what sounded like a pair of large animals. He turned toward the entrance to the living area as two animals about the size of grizzly bear cubs came rushing toward them. They were growling loudly and heading right for Commander Tucker! Their fangs looked like they could tear his throat out in an instant.
Panic overtook Ben as he screamed, “Commander! Watch out!” and froze in terror. Then something completely unbelievable happened.
Just as Ben was certain the two animals were to pounce on Commander Tucker and maul him to death, he knelt down toward the two menacing beasts in front of him. They immediately started vigorously licking his face and Commander Tucker rubbed their heads as they bounced around him with their tails wagging furiously. They continued growling the whole time and Ben assumed what he mistook as anger must mean pleasure at their owner returning.
Ben noticed that Commander Tucker had stood up and was watching him as the larger of the two animals approached Ben. The growling had stopped and it just stared at him as it came near. He tried to remain as calm as possible in case the animal sensed his fear but that was getting harder to do by the second. The animal’s fangs were bared as it sniffed around him.
Commander Tucker must have understood Ben’s predicament because he said, “Sorry about that Captain… Don’t worry about her… I told her you’d be staying with us for a few days and she’s just memorizing your scent.” He chuckled as he noticed Ben’s discomfort at the animal sniffing his groin.
Commander Tucker looked toward the animal and said ** “Stop that I’Kea. Come here.” **
Ben wasn’t sure exactly what Commander Tucker just said, but at least the animal stopped sniffing at his groin and returned to Commander Tucker’s side.
“Let’s go inside Captain… I’ll get you something to drink…”
“Thanks, Commander, I’d like that.” After Commander Tucker turned his back to him, Ben just shook his head and wondered what other surprises lay in store while he stayed with Commander Tucker and Commander T’Pol. The idea of sleeping in the cramped quarters on the Hornet was more inviting by the minute. Unfortunately turning down Commander Tucker’s invitation at this point would only hurt his feelings–also Cragen was pretty clear he wanted the three to get to know each other better.
“Have a seat Captain,” Commander Tucker motioned to Ben as he walked to another part of the house–fortunately with the animals in tow. Ben took a seat in a chair across a low table from a piece of furniture that resembled a short couch. He surveyed the sparsely decorated room while waiting for Commander Tucker to return. The only item that revealed a Human lived here was a small picture frame across the room. Although he couldn’t make out the picture it contained, he assumed it was a picture of Commander Tucker and Commander T’Pol.
In a few minutes Commander Tucker returned with the animals following behind and set a pitcher of light bluish-green liquid and ice cubes on the table then poured a couple of glasses. He gave one to Ben and took a seat on the short couch. Ben took a tentative sip of the drink. It was slightly sour but refreshingly good. He took a longer draw of the interesting juice. The drink was citrusy and he thought this is what unsweetened lemonade would probably taste like if it were bluish-green.
He took his eyes off his drink to see Commander Tucker seated on the couch with the smaller of the two animals also lying on the couch with its head in his lap. It was growling, or more likely purring, while Commander Tucker slowly stroked its fur. The animal’s tail flailed around constantly and it reminded him of a squirrel’s tail as it climbed through the trees. Commander Tucker focused his attention on the animal and only stopped stroking the animal’s fur briefly from time to time to take a drink.
The larger of the two animals slowly lumbered over to Ben and stared intently at him with piercing red eyes. Its head was only a few centimeters above his lap and its fangs lightly brushed across his thighs. “Commander Tucker?” He said nervously not sure how to react to the animal’s attention.
Commander Tucker looked up at him and grinned. “I think like she likes you. She wants you to stroke her fur… Just rub her head.”
As Ben reached down toward it, the animal rose up a bit, tilted its forehead and leaned into his stroking. The animal moved its head around to ensure Ben stroked all over its head and ears. The growling sound came back and now Ben was certain it was equivalent to purring. After a while the animal rested its head in his lap with its fangs wedged between his thighs. Its tail too flicked around frantically as he stroked its fur. He hoped that the purring sound along with the tail wagging was a sign it enjoyed his attention; he doubted his death would be a long time coming if the animal became upset.
“Let me top you off,” Commander Tucker said and stepped over to refill his glass. Once he did so, he sat back down and resumed stroking the animal. “I should probably introduce you,” he said. Commander Tucker pointed to the animal resting its head in Ben’s lap. “She’s I’Kea and this,” his pointed to the animal lying on the couch with him, “is I’Nan. She’s I’Kea’s cub. I’Kea’s training her to take care of T’Lyr’s son, Syrk.”
“I’ve never seen anything like this before. What are they?” Ben asked.
“They’re called sehlats. I think of them like big, smart dogs. They help take care of Vulcan children and teach them not to depend on their parents for everything. I’Kea’s full-grown but I’Nan’s still a cub. Syrk is I’Nan’s first child so I’Kea will keep teaching her what to do for another next couple months or so.”
Ben was confused. “You make them almost sound sentient. Are they?”
Commander Tucker made a face. “Hmmm… I don’t know if I’d call it sentient. But they do understand simple commands and Vulcans can teach them telepathically… They only understand Vulcan so if either of them does something you don’t like just say Nirsh. That means no and they’ll stop.” Ben noticed both animals raised their heads and turned to Commander Tucker when he said the word ‘Nirsh’. But they soon dropped their heads back down, most likely realizing that neither Human as going to stop stroking their fur.
A short while later, as Ben vigorously rubbed the fur between the ears of the one in his lap, it raised its head, looked toward Commander Tucker a moment and gave a blood-curdling howl. Ben felt the blood drain from his face as the frightening noise echoed off the walls in the sparsely decorated house. The animal lying with Commander Tucker, I’Nan, raised her head and did the same thing. The look of sheer terror on Ben’s face must have been amusing to Commander Tucker because he laughed before saying something to the animals Ben didn’t understand.
** “Yes, they are almost here. Go out and greet them.” **
Whatever Commander Tucker said, the two animals took off toward the front entrance of the house.
“I’Kea could tell I knew T’Pol was almost home. I guess she figured out that meant T’Lyr and Syrk were also almost home too… They were howling in excitement. You don’t have anything to be afraid of.” Ben hoped he could get used to having a pair of sehlats around before he died of a heart attack. Commander Tucker stared into space for a bit before standing up. “T’Pol’s bringing some stuff home from the market. I need to go help her.”
“I’ll join you,” Ben said as he stood up.
Ben arrived in the courtyard to see the sehlats circling around two Vulcan females rubbing their legs and purring louder than before. He recognized the petite woman carrying two bags as Commander T’Pol, which meant the taller one holding a very young Vulcan male, must be T’Lyr.
Commander Tucker briefly said a hello to Commander T’Pol as he ran his hand along her left arm. He turned to T’Lyr as the young child reached toward him trying to escape his mother’s arms.
** “Hello Syrk,” ** Commander Tucker said as he lifted the child into his arms. ** “I will take this to the kitchen,” ** he said as he took the two bags from T’Pol.
Commander Tucker took a couple steps away and turned to Ben. “Captain Ben Stone, this,” he pointed to the smaller female, “is Commander T’Pol. And this is,” he pointed to the larger one, “is T’Lyr… And this guy,” he bounced the child he carried in his arm, “is Syrk.”
Syrk didn’t seem all that interested in Ben and kept playing with Commander Tucker’s right ear and babbling something to him. Ben wasn’t sure if it really was babbling or if the child was merely speaking Vulcan. Either way Syrk seemed intent on sharing a lot of information with Commander Tucker in a very short amount of time. If Commander Tucker understood anything the young child said, he showed no particular reaction other than the occasional nod of his head.
Commander Tucker turned to T’Pol and said, “I’ll take this stuff in the kitchen and get I’Kea and I’Nan out of the way…” T’Pol just nodded and Commander Tucker carried the child who now had both hands on Commander Tucker’s ear and was babbling away for the remainder of trip into the house. The two sehlats followed him leaving Ben on the patio with the two females.
He looked at them and said, “Commander T’Pol, it is a pleasure to finally meet you.” She just bowed slightly to him. “T’Lyr, it is a pleasure to meet you also.”
“She does not speak English, Captain. I will have to translate.”
“Oh,” Ben said as he frowned.
** “T’Lyr, this is Captain Ben Stone. He will be Trip and my commanding officer when we leave in three days.” **
** “I am honored to meet him.” **
“T’Lyr is honored to meet you,” T’Pol translated for him.
Ben bowed slightly to T’Lyr as he learned was proper. He returned to T’Pol and said, “I want to thank you for asking me stay here until we head back to Earth.”
Commander T’Pol shook her head. “Think nothing of it Captain. We have plenty of room. It would not be logical for you to remain in temporary quarters on the ship.”
Just after the two entered the house, he heard T’Lyr say something to Commander T’Pol.
** “Syrk is hungry. I am going to feed him.” **
T’Lyr left he and Commander T’Pol alone together in the main living area. She motioned for them to return to the seats he and Commander Tucker had used earlier.
“Captain, was Trip’s tour and briefing adequate for your needs?”
“Yes,” he replied. “I’d already read a lot of your reports on the ride over. It’s an amazing ship… I can’t wait to see what she looks like with the spherical section. It looks weird without it, although I think the ship’s going to look pretty ugly either way.” He smiled hoping for any reaction from the icy Vulcan.
The only response Commander T’Pol gave was a brief nod in agreement. “Indeed. Trip has said the same thing.”
Commander Tucker rejoined them and took a seat next to Commander T’Pol. “T’Lyr’s taken Syrk so she can feed him. I’Kea and I’Nan will stay out of our hair… I think Skon should be home in a bit and we can start making supper.”
Ben saw Commander T’Pol give a brief glance at Commander Tucker. Commander Tucker grinned and shrugged and took a drink from his glass.
Commander T’Pol returned her attention to Ben. “I hope the sehlats did not cause you too much distress… They are gentle animals but Humans find them intimidating.”
“I think I made it through the experience okay… Although I thought sure they were going to attack Commander Tucker.”
“Trip’s first experience with sehlats was no less traumatic,” she said and he heard Commander Tucker laugh, “and now he spoils them.”
Ben laughed at her choice of words. That was exactly what Commander Tucker was doing just a short few minutes ago.
“For example, they are not permitted on the furniture but he continues to indulge I’Nan’s desire to lie on the couch with him.” He saw her give a minute scowl to Commander Tucker.
Commander Tucker smiled and said, “I can’t say no to her when she looks at me with those red eyes,” and winked at the Captain. He stood up and motioned to Ben. “Come on, I’ll show you to your room. If you want, you can freshen up a bit before supper. I’m sure a real shower would sound good right about now.”
Ben nodded and chuckled. “Yeah. That sounds real nice… Lead the way Commander.”
Commander Tucker led him down a hall and opened the third door on the left. “This is it,” he motioned Ben inside. “There’s a bathroom through there with a shower. It’s already got towels and soap and stuff out.”
“Thank you Commander.”
“Don’t mention it. But you can call me Trip.”
“Okay… Trip.” Commander Tucker smiled and left him alone.
After he took a wonderful shower, he was startled by the larger sehlat, I’Kea, standing in his room, staring at him and wagging her tail. “Now how did you get in here?” He rubbed her head as she followed him around the bed to his clothes. Ben realized he must not have closed the door completely. He felt kind of strange getting dressed in front of this animal that just kept staring at him. She seemed to have intelligence in her eyes that he never saw in any other animal before today.
The next few days he stayed with Commander Tucker and Commander T’Pol were some of the most… interesting… in his life. He was glad though to be back aboard the ship when it left dock and headed toward Earth to have its spherical section fitted. At least he came away with an interesting set of stories to tell his wife when he saw her next.
Hopefully she would believe him.
Continue to New World Man: Reunion
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A whole mess of folks have made comments
Originally the drink Captain Stone and Trip had at TnT's house was blue. I decided to change it to bluish-green after reading TLR's A Very Vulcan Christmas. It's made from the same fruit just cut with water.
Good intro to the new crew, Kevin. If Ben Stone is an OC, can we get a physical description of him so we can envision the story as it plays out?... And is the child actually Sarek... or maybe Sarek's older brother? Inquiring minds want to know. : )
Syrk is Sarek's older brother. Sarek is born in 2164 after Skon's next go around.
Since I'm lifting character names from Law & Order, I may as well lift physical descriptions too. :-) Ben Stone looks a lot like Michael Moriarty.
Loved it, looking forward to read more.
Excellent. Loved this chapter. Look forward to your next update. Thank you
Great story, Kevin! I'm really looking forward to the next chapter!
I love this line of thought the characters are even perfect can i have a sehlat for cristmas?
Great update. I really enjoyed it. It looks like the Tuckers and Cap. Stone will have an interesting relationship. I like the way you're using names from L&O makes it easy to picture what the character might look like. Any chance you have a Munch coming in soon?
I'm intrigued. Who is Skon? What medical problems did Trip have on Columbia? Did I miss something? The sehlats your innovation? Very, very interesting.
I also enjoyed all the shop talk about the new ship. I feel like I was there. Very Star Trek! Enjoyed this! Ann
^^ Skon is Sarek's dad. Medical problems = Mating bond issues. :-D
For this series, Memory Alpha (http://memory-alpha.org) is a good reference. You can find out more about Skon, Sarek, Daedalus class and sehlats. The idea about sehlats taking care of kids is taken competely from TLR's Honeymoon on Vulcan.
I'll go into more detail about TnT's problems after Trip left for Columbia in an upcoming story. It's called "Vulcan Biology 101".
Good story, very interesting OCs, very well written. I just have one quibble and a question: I don't believe that T'Pol would make Trip quit eating meat. He might do so out of respect for her sensibilities, but I don't think she would require it. That seems a little out of character.
LOL!!!!! OMG YES their has never been an uglier ship then the Daedalus.,,,,,, I can hear Trip's first impression Now,,"What 2 year cadet thought of this weakass, uglier then Hell design?!!?!?" LOL!!
Loved the sehlat,,, sound like a combination of a dog an a cat.,,, Very cute.,,,,,,, I cant wait to see how long it takes TnTs knew Capn to realise how lucky he is to have them on his ship.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, I thinks its very sweet for Trip to give up meat for T'pol, But I cant see her makin him give it up,,,,,,,,,,,, An dangit Id never give up meat,,, sorry If a gal cant love me cause I eat meat then she can hit the road jack were predator's an were also omnivours so deal with Yal,,, It aint logical to ignore one's biological impulse's,, such as eatin juicy steaks,, Yummy. :D,,,,,,,;) Trip can just brush twice as long after every meal :P,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, Really did love this story,,,,, an that engineerin scene Had me LOL,,, when Trip found out the hard way that the Admrial an Capn were there. Great stuff,, just great,, keep it up.
I liked the story, but there are some gaping holes.
If the ship is still working up in the yard and hasn't yet been commissioned, the captain can't expect everyone to greet him in dress whites as they pipe him aboard.
If no watch is being kept, the ship is clearly not in commission and thus there is no fault in Tucker not greeting him. In fact, Tucker is doing his job and any captain would like to see that his engines rudders and guns were going to work.
In fact, even if the ship was in commission, a new captain would be expected to read himself in as captain before strolling around and giving orders. His orders to take command would be read into the ships log and entered by the officer of the day. As of the moment of that entry, all of the new captains orders on the ship would have the full force of the law behind them. Before the reading in, he is just a very influential tourist.
The watch officer, upon being surprised by a new captain's arrival, would simply offer him refreshments while ordering the crew to fall in by divisions, giving everyone the chance to be uniformed and properly ready to greet the new captain and acknowledge his authority at the reading in.
Now if Tucker missed something like that, the Captain has a right to be pissed off. It would be a personal insult as well as a subtle attack on his authority.
That was just pretty, I really like how you showed T'pol's and Trip't life. I hope to read more from you Kevin.