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Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations, Part II, by julie
Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations
AN: I would like to thank Distracted who spent sooo much time going over this for me. Plus, of course, Linda and Myst for their help.
Soval composed himself and nodded to his companions before opening the transport doors. An armed reception committee awaited them. Under close guard, the four Vulcan prisoners waited to board the vessel. The young pregnant woman desperately trying to keep control of her fear, the stoic elderly couple, and the defiant teenager all looked strained. Sylea understood why Soval had been insistent on continuing the mission and her respect for him deepened. As they disembarked, the prisoners were guided into the transport. Within minutes they were airborne and on their way to freedom.
“This way!” The armed guard swung his weapon to indicate the desired direction. All three followed closely behind.
“Ah, welcome, Ambassador Soval!” The pirate’s voice was brittle with anticipation, and Sylea could feel his intense emotions.
“This is Dr Koris. He will perform the required tests,” Soval indicated his male companion. Koris inclined his head in a stiffly polite gesture.
“I will require a sample of your DNA. A skin scraping, a drop of blood, or a hair would suffice.” He stopped short as Fetz Nakar pulled a knife from his belt and slashed at his own hand. Emerald liquid oozed from the wound
“Take what you need.”
Koris moved forward and took several swabs for analysis, and then silently tended to the gaping wound. He opened his case and settled to his work without a backward glance.
“How long will this take?” asked Nakar. Sylea could sense Nakar’s eagerness to begin. The last five years of his life had become a quest to find out the truth about his father and to understand the circumstances of his birth. He had always felt the need to find the answers and, perhaps, some meaning to his existence. Now, on the brink of finding those answers, he felt unsettled and fearful of the realities that he could uncover. She felt his conflict and pitied him.
“It should not be long.” Koris looked up from his test pads.
“Who is she?” asked Fetz Nakar, indicating Sylea, standing quietly with Soval.
“This is Sylea,” said Soval in introduction. “She is my aide on this mission.”
“A non-Vulcan?” He looked slightly amused “You continue to amaze me, Ambassador.”
“I have a result,” announced Koris. “This is, indeed, the son of Sub-Commander Solen ….”
Soval dropped his eyes, momentarily pausing to allow himself to adjust to the news. Sylea sensed his discomfort. This situation had brought shame upon Vulcan, along with an uncomfortable truth. It was not only possible to mate with other species, but also to procreate without intervention.
Meeting Nakar’s eyes, Soval finally broke the silence. “On behalf of Vulcan, I offer our condolences for the grief visited upon your mother and yourself.”
“Do you know what happened?” This was the moment Fetz Nakar had awaited for many years.
Soval hesitated, glancing at Sylea. He dropped his eyes and proceeded to explain Nakar’s father’s condition.
“Sometimes being off world affects the cycle of the Pon farr. It may occur earlier or later than expected,” Soval paused. “The commanding officers and crew were unaware of his condition until it was too late. He escaped detention and abducted your mother.” The discomfort of both Vulcans at discussing this element of their physiology was evident. “The Pon farr brings about powerful physiological changes to the male system. The one affected by it must mate or die.”
Nakar hesitated. This was the most important question of all. “Where is he now?”
“He is dead.” Soval kept his eyes cast down “Memory repression was tried, but failed. He died by his own hand.”
“You already knew this was the truth even before you did the tests.” Nakar’s tone was accusatory.
“We discovered the resignation of the first officer and the events that followed. It was the logical conclusion,” Soval replied.
Fetz Nakar had begun to pace as he considered the implications of the situation. He stopped with his back to them.
“Tell me of this Pon …whatever you called it.”
Soval and Koris exchanged meaningful glances. “We do not discuss it,” said Koris.
The pirate turned towards them “I have researched Vulcan biology extensively, and found no reference to it. But it would seem that it would be important to me. So tell me!” His tone now had an edge.
Sylea kept her eyes fixed on the view from the port window. She could sense the ambassador’s intense discomfort over discussing the topic in her presence. She deliberately refrained from meeting the Vulcan’s eyes, attempting to give the appearance that her attention lay elsewhere. She felt his eyes on her for a moment. She heard him exhale heavily, and then from the corner of her eye she saw him signal to Koris to divulge their most closely guarded secret… their one great shame. No one on Vulcan discussed the terrible Plak Tau … the one part of their animal origins that they could not control.
“Pon farr occurs every seven years. It is the ancient drive that impels a Vulcan male to return home to take a mate, or die. It brings with it a neurochemical imbalance that leads to erratic behaviour - nervousness, sleeplessness, outbursts of anger and violence. The one affected can even become unaware of his actions. Huge amounts of adrenalin are pumped into his bloodstream at once, and if nothing is done about it, the physical and emotional pressures will kill him.” He paused. “Most of us would rather die than behave as your father did, but I accept that at a certain point in the Plak Tau he would have been totally unaware of what he was doing.” The doctor stopped abruptly. Sylea could almost feel him cringe inwardly at having to share this information, especially with a female still present.
Nakar had resumed pacing by this time, preoccupied with his own thoughts.
“I am a wanted man on Cynval Alpha. There is a price on my head.” His sudden announcement took them all by surprise.
“What was your crime?” Sylea asked. She continued to gaze out of the port, her knuckles white from clenching her hands so tightly.
“I grew up with other orphaned and unwanted children. They were always afraid because I looked different,” he pulled at an offending ear, “and I was much stronger, but I was lucky enough to find someone who cared for me anyway. I’d have done anything for her ….” His words trailed off and he turned to face the Vulcans. “One day I lost control and I raped her. I somehow became the same monster that I had always believed my father to be.”
Without another word, he turned and left the room. The silence was oppressive as they considered the consequences of Nakar’s ignorance of his own physiological inheritance.
The Security Chief entered Raldavoor’s office at a run. “We have a hostage situation, sir.”
“Fetz Nakar promised the hostages would go free when the Ambassador arrived,” cried Raldavoor.
“They did, sir. They have taken Ambassador Soval and his companions hostage now, and are demanding a substantial ransom.”
“Fetz Nakar doesn’t usually go back on his word,” growled Raldavoor.
“He has been taken prisoner as well. It sounds like a mutiny.”
The comms board lit up. The scarred face on the screen was unknown to him.
“We have the Ambassador. He, and his people, will die unless you yield to my demands. I am transmitting a list.” He leered closer to the screen. “Failure to comply will mean an untimely end for the Vulcan ambassador and his people.” The communication cut off suddenly, and a display board showed the list of requirements for the ransom. Metals, weapons, silks, and precious goods of all kinds were demanded.
“This would impoverish half of the system,” Raldavoor muttered. “Do the Vulcans know yet?”
The comms board lit up again “The Vulcans are waiting to see you, sir.”
He sighed and looked meaningfully at the chief. “Send them in.”
“Yes, they await my signal.”
The doors opened and Fetz Nakar entered. “You should now consider yourselves prisoners,” he said.
“You gave us your word. You wanted your questions answered and we have done that,” said Soval.
“Things are no longer under my control.” The guard suddenly pushed him forwards roughly. “Talrix, my second in command, has seized power,” he said bitterly.
Another man strode into the room, his cruel face disfigured by an angry, ragged scar.
“Consider the place under new management,” he smirked. “So long as the Golbarans pay up you’ll be safe. But believe me,” he walked close to Soval and then to Koris. “I owe the Vulcans for a couple of things.” He drew his finger along the ugly scar. “Legacy of a Vulcan commando.”
He stood close to where Sylea sat calmly and ran his fingers across her hair “And a little something to enjoy later. Things are looking better all the time.” She exchanged glances with Soval as a sensation that he didn’t recognise rippled through him.
We should remain calm, he heard her voice in his mind, but you should be sending that signal!
Soval eyed Talrix. The pirate looked away from them in resignation at their lack of response, obviously tired of trying to provoke his prisoners. He turned to Fetz Nakar. “You didn’t really think we could pass up an opportunity like this one, did you? We’ll be rich! Even if the Golbarans won’t pay up, the Andorians, amongst others, will be very interested in him.” He indicated Soval.
“You manipulated me.” Nakar had been analysing the sequence of events.
“You were very accommodating too,” Talrix replied. “It was so easy.”
“We will no longer be tolerated in this space, Talrix,” Nakar protested. “We’ve done well here, by keeping ourselves within boundaries. We inflict acceptable losses and we’re more palatable than others. But after this we’ll no longer be welcome.”
“Do you seriously believe that the Loracs, Vulcans or Garra Taus will allow this to continue? They’ll be policing the area heavily. There won’t be room for us here then. This is our last fling. Then we’ll say goodbye to this hole in the ground and good riddance!” exclaimed Talrix, and he strode from the room.
There was silence as the four of them regarded each other soberly.
Are there any listening devices in this room?”Soval heard Sylea’s question clearly, and Fetz Nakar’s head shot up. He had obviously heard her as well. The pirate’s eyes widened. Soval knew the man had just realised that Sylea was a telepath.
“No. Not to my knowledge. It’s my private quarters,” he said. “This was never my intention. We may steal within reason, but kidnapping has never been our style.” Nakar looked from one to another of the Vulcans as though seeking some kind of reassurance. Soval noticed that he appeared disappointed when there was no reaction. “I allowed my personal desires to cloud my judgement.”
“You could help us get out of here.” Soval spoke “Vulcan cruisers are hiding just outside your sensor range. On my signal they will storm this place. You would save lives if you could get us to a transport.”
“You did not trust me then?” Even though it seemed unreasonable now, Sylea could tell that Nakar could not help but feel angry at this turn of events.
“We picked up on the undercurrents of duplicity that were here” Soval indicated Sylea “We merely responded with a contingency plan of our own. We would not have used it had it not been necessary.”
“I cannot do that. They are my people.” Sylea could sense that it stung Nakar to the core when he thought of what was happening. The disloyalty of his colleagues, especially Talrix, who he had trusted most of all, actually hurt more than the humiliation inflicted upon him.
“You are finished here,” stated Soval flatly. “It will never be the same, even if you survive the attack.” He hesitated, apparently in order to give the pirate time to reflect. “But you can save lives.”
“Where would I go?” Nakar was weakening now.
Sylea joined in the attack “You could start a new life somewhere else. There are always new colonies establishing themselves, I hear there are hundreds, many of whom do not ask questions about your origins.” She noticed the Ambassador’s raised eyebrow with some amusement.
“There are no such things as new starts for people like me. You can never know what it is like to be like this. Neither one thing nor the other, accepted by no one.” His bitterness ran deep. She could feel the pain in him. Sometimes, perhaps, knowing the truth would not heal a wound, but just bring a different kind of pain. “I will never be accepted by my people or anyone else. I am a physiological freak.”
“That is not true. It is those who have treated you that way that are beneath contempt!” She countered passionately. “There is never any justification for ill-treatment or rejection of someone because they are different.”
“Your sentiments do you credit, but they show your ignorance. Wherever I have ever been I have seen aliens, half-breeds or misfits reviled and marginalised. You will never convince me that it isn’t universal.”
“You are wrong,” she said “Look.”
She swept her hair away from her face, revealing her pretty but undeniably Vulcan ears. “I have family and friends on two worlds. They love and honour me. You could say that I have been lucky to some extent, but don’t tell me that everyone, everywhere, is cruel and bigoted, because that is not true.”
There was silence as all three men adjusted to the situation.
“The most important man in your life,” murmured Soval
“Is my father,” she finished.
“You understand?” Fetz Nakar said finally. She returned her attention to the pirate.
“Yes, in a way, I can. I can pick up on your feelings and understand them, but I cannot share them. I have never suffered in the same way. I have been loved and nurtured and accepted just as you should have been.” She had engaged with him and pressed her advantage. “There are places where you can make a new life. Maybe you do not have to lie or steal anymore!” She touched his arm gently. “Help us, and let us help you.”
“Look, the Golbarans will pay up. They have to, and then you will be free anyway.”
“No we won’t,” stated Sylea. “Talrix has no intention of losing a prize like Ambassador Soval. He wants to trade him further along the line. Whether we will be allowed to live is debateable.”
He turned his back on them in frustration. He hesitated. Appearing to come to a decision, he walked over to a large, garish wall hanging and swept it to one side. Pressing gently here and there, he appeared to be manipulating something. Presently, a panel slid back revealing a small opening in the wall.
“If you live amongst thieves you learn to be a little careful with some things. It is always wise to have a contingency plan.” He looked meaningfully at Soval. “I acquired this from a Markavian trader some years ago.” He extracted a small device from the hole in the wall. “It’s a Mark VI Neutronic disruptor, very powerful and highly illegal.”
He aimed just right of the door, and the air was soon filled with dust and debris as the wall disintegrated. The guards lay amongst the rubble in the corridor.
“I could have used of one of those to escape during the trade talks,” Sylea whispered to Soval, a small smile playing about her lips.
His brow rose and his eyes twinkled with humour, “But you seemed to be enjoying it so.” The moment was unexpectedly light.
“Follow me. It’s not too far,” whispered Nakar.
Four stealthy figures moved down through the wide corridors. “I know these people,” he whispered. “They’ll be celebrating their success well in advance. Their over-confidence is our best chance of escape …. . and let’s just say they aren’t that good at preparing for all eventualities. That’s why I’m in charge.” He glanced quickly down the next corridor. “We should come across few in our way.”
Two guards were stationed outside the launch bay. Both were momentarily distracted as the smiling young woman strolled cheerfully toward them. Both smiled automatically in return before slumping to the floor, victims of Vulcan nerve pinches delivered by Koris and Soval.
Nakar gave a quiet whistle “That’s quite a trick!”
Three Vulcan star cruisers hovered as close to the pirate moon as they could without detection. Waiting just beyond the range of the enemy sensors, they monitored the area closely. Covert sensor sweeps were sent out at regular intervals. Captain V’Nash of the Sh’Kir was the first to pick up the distortion.
“What is causing the interference?” he asked his puzzled communications officer, who was busy analysing the phenomenon.
“It has only just occurred, and appears to be getting stronger, Captain.” Sub-Commander Seltar worked his console trying different diagnostics. “I am attempting to pinpoint the source.”
“We need clear communications, Sub-Commander. We will have to move quickly if the ambassador signals,” V’Nash reminded him.
“I am receiving calls from the Sh’Ren and the Saiyus. They are experiencing the same readings as we are. Yet, sensors would suggest that there is nothing to create such a disturbance,” Seltar reported.
“Is it possible to tell if this is a technological or a naturally occurring phenomenon?”
“Evidence would suggest it is a naturally occurring ……” A violent burst of energy hit the ship, knocking the crew off their feet.
“What is happening?” cried V’Nash.
Seltar was back at his post, clinging onto his console to steady himself. “Massive electrical anomaly,” he responded. “It’s moving quickly, should be past us in 5.65 minutes.” There was a shower of sparks and the darkness enfolded them as the power went down.
“Emergency power,” shouted V’Nash. Dim lights began to glow as the back-up power came on line. “Can we get any sensor readings?”
“Negative,” said Seltar, “We’ll have to wait for the anomaly to pass before we repair the damage. Communications are down, but I suspect that the others will be in the same position.”
The buffeting was beginning to ease, but V’Nash was aware, for the moment, at least, that Ambassador Soval was on his own.
The launch bay doors were closed, but one transport shuttle lay tantalisingly close and ready. Somehow, they needed to open the outer doors. One guard was on duty, already the worse for wear, with an empty bottle beside him. He didn’t look as though he would give much trouble. They could hear what could have been some kind of muffled song emanating from his direction.
“I need someone to get over there,” Nakar indicated the opposite wall. “See that red box under the walkway? That is the emergency override door controls.” He looked at Sylea. He was not expecting the two middle aged Vulcans to take this chance. This was her task.
“Once you hit the button, all hell will break loose. You have less than 30 seconds to get back here,” he whispered. “I’ll fire up the engines the moment the alarms sound and we’ll have to get out as soon as there’s room. They’ll reverse the mechanism as soon as they realise what’s going on. They may be over confident, but they aren’t fools.” He turned to Soval. “Let’s hope your ships are very close.” He stopped and looked at Soval. “Are you sure your signal could penetrate the fields?”
“I believe the human term would be ‘I hope so,’” Soval replied.
Sylea was off across the floor before Soval could protest. Skirting around the edge of the bay, she could easily circle the semi-conscious guard. Her difficulty would be in returning, which would require a full sprint in a straight line directly past him.
Talrix regarded Raldavoor smugly. The Golbaran leaders’ face on the view screen was strained.
“That’s just what I expected you to say, and that’s exactly why the ambassador will remain with us until we are safely out of the area. Then we will put him in an escape pod. You might just find him.”
Raldavoor was acutely aware of what that meant. They never would find him. Talrix had no intention of returning the Vulcan ambassador. “What of the other Vulcans?”
“You will find them here,” stated Talrix. “You have my word on that.”
“Here are the co-ordinates for the ransom …” Talrix turned as the wailing sirens began. “What the …?!”
As soon as the alarm sounded, Nakar fired up the engine. Soval watched at the open door of the shuttle, waiting for Sylea’s return. All his mastery and control couldn’t crush the growing anxiety that gnawed inside him. She came at a run, and had almost made it when the guard regained his senses and fired without warning. She fell only feet from the hatch. Without thinking, he leapt out and grabbed her, only managing to haul them both in as the hatch slammed shut. The shuttle lifted and flew through the doors with only inches to spare as the mechanism began to close once more.
Taken off balance, he slammed into the opposite wall, still clutching the unconscious girl in his arms. He fell with her on top of him. Her scent overwhelmed him, a complex aroma fresh as a spring morning with the warmth of spice. His mind was still trying to analyse it as he lost consciousness as well.
Laser bursts flew from the base gun implants towards the tiny vessel. The sky was suddenly obscured by the hull of an immense white star ship that swallowed up the shuttle like a giant predator. The laser bursts bounced back with deadly force to their point of origin.
Soval was confused at first. He opened his eyes to an alien environment. The soft lighting lent a soothing atmosphere to the medical centre where he lay. The pain in his head seared as he tried to move.
“Be still.” Cool hands gently moved his head straight again. “It will only take a little longer for the healing to be complete.” A cheerful, unknown face hovered above him for a few seconds. He relaxed slightly, having ascertained that he appeared to be in friendly hands.
There was a pulsing light somewhere above his head, and a gentle rhythmic purring. He found himself drifting in a trance like state for a few moments, floating in a sea of calm. He was gently pulled back to reality as another pair of hands appeared to adjust the controls of a device just out of his field of vision.
“You should be able to move now.” The smiling face was back. It belonged to a short fair haired male in a bright, white iridescent uniform.
“Who are you? Where am I?” Soval struggled to sit up, ready to flinch at the pain that never came. He touched his head and felt nothing, not even a swelling.
“We are aboard the Kahiri Martis, Ambassador, a Garra Tau vessel.” He turned to find Koris, who now stood beside him.
“The Vulcan ships had not yet arrived, so we had to get you out of there quickly.” Another young man had joined them. “We have been in contact with them. They subdued the renegades quickly and they will pick you up shortly.” The speaker was affable and relaxed. “I hope you will forgive our interference, but we picked up Sylea’s distress call.” He gave a small indication towards his temple.
“Who are you?” asked Soval.
“I am Luca Antares. I command this vessel.” He swept his hand around in dramatic fashion. “This is our medical centre. I would be proud to take you on a tour before you leave if it pleases you.”
Soval found he was irrationally irritated with the man, who was relaxed and oozing charm. He only just managed a passably polite grunt.
The bio-bed he sat on was incredibly comfortable too, which only succeeded in irritating him even more. From where he sat he could see an impressively stocked hospital area with a vast amount of glass and crystal lighting up the surroundings. Everything gave the impression of cleanliness, efficiency and high professionalism.
“Sylea?” he asked Koris.
“Alive. She is sedated at the moment, but she will be healed in a few hours.” Koris looked remarkably animated. “This is a most interesting medical facility.” Soval could sense that he was impressed. Presently, Koris gave in to his curiosity and wandered off to question the Garran doctors.
“We will let you know when she is awake.” Commander Antares studied the Vulcan diplomat for a few minutes. “That was a high risk manoeuvre you pulled.”
“It was Nakar who got us out.” Soval stopped and looked at the Commander. “Where is he?”
“He is in detention.”
Soval nodded, “When will the Vulcan ships arrive?”
“Very soon. You will be informed of their arrival immediately. May I offer you some refreshment, Ambassador?” It appeared he had remembered his manners. Realising that he had not eaten for some hours, Soval accepted the offer of food and drink.
The Vulcan ship had docked with the Garran vessel. Soval had been pleased to leave the cool atmosphere of the Garran ship and feel the dry warmth of the Vulcan Sh’Kir. He had asked to be informed of Sylea’s condition and notified when she awoke.
Some hours later, as he made his way back through the Kahiri Martis, he grudgingly admitted to himself that he, too, was impressed. The predominance of crystal intrigued him. The interior was strikingly beautiful, if a little ornate, compared to the starker, more functional Vulcan style.
He considered the interlinking circular motifs that occurred frequently throughout the ship. The intricate knot like details made it impossible to see where the design began or ended. As far as he could see, there was little reason or logic to the decor. A frieze ran along one side of the corridor depicting humanoid figures in various scenarios. He inspected them more closely. His eyebrow arched almost to his hairline when he realised that the figures were engaged in various activities, many of which were extremely … intimate. Regaining his composure, he headed for the medical centre.
She was sitting on the bed looking fresh and cheerful.
“You have recovered well, I see,” he said. Sylea hardly looked as though she had just gone through a hostage ordeal and a narrow escape.
“Garra Tau constitutions are strong. We heal quickly,” she said simply.
Soval looked around once more, and noticed Koris still roaming around asking questions and studying the equipment.
“Koris is intrigued by your medical facility. He will be getting in the way of your doctors and their work.”
“Oh, no, they will be more than happy to tell him all about everything - in exhaustive detail!” she laughed. Drawing a deep breath she asked “What will happen to Fetz Nakar?”
“Raldavoor has indicated that he should stand trial for his crimes, and the Lorcans support that. It seems the correct course of action.” He saw her grimace as he spoke. He allowed a short pause before continuing “However,” he had her attention now “He was instrumental in our escape and a debt is owed.” Her eyes were fixed on him and he found it pleasing, but also unsettling. “I have petitioned for extradition and offered to remove him to be tried in a Vulcan court and serve his sentence in a Vulcan colony. This is logical, as most of his recent crimes have been against us.”
“And what of his father’s crime, and the cover up? Not to mention the lack of co-operation when he was trying to get answers from you.” She was furious. Her calm gentleness had disappeared. The change was as dramatic as it was unexpected.
“He is a criminal, a pirate. I am considering Caxtar IV. The government there is of a liberal nature, and once his sentence is served he could settle there. He will also have access to guidance in reconciling himself with his physiology.” He spoke a little more gently. “Your sentiments are commendable, but you have a fellow feeling which prevents you from looking at this in a logical fashion.”
“So you’re letting him down. You lied about helping him. You are as bad as the High Command.” She glared at him, “I should have known better. They are not to be trusted and you are one of them.”
He was taken by surprise by her verbal attack. “I had not expected you to insult Vulcans in that way when ….”
“I’m not insulting Vulcans, I am insulting the High Command. That’s entirely different,” she stated. “I thought you were different.”
“Is there a problem?” Luca Antares was surprised to see the two of them arguing.
“He’s breaking his word to Fetz Nakar,” she announced. “The Vulcans intend to punish him regardless of his actions in saving their ambassador.”
“Had it not been for his actions, I would not have needed saving,” Soval said, convinced that he was being entirely reasonable.
Luca looked solemn. “I need to know what you intend to do, Ambassador.” He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “If we are not satisfied that he will receive appropriate justice from your people, we cannot hand him over.”
Soval was surprised. This event was unexpected. He looked from one to another. “Your stance has no logic.”
“We are not interested in logic, Ambassador, only what is right,” replied Luca. Soval decided that now was not the time to argue. He had not expected a political break down at this point. With a curt nod he left them.
Shortly after Soval returned to his ship, the Garra Taus detached and moved off. The ships then sat adjacent to one another. It was a stand off.
“What are your intentions toward the prisoner, Ambassador Soval?” Zannik regarded him placidly from the comm board.
Soval was losing patience rapidly. Perhaps their ancestors had been right to avoid this species.
“Once again, may I point out that without the actions of this man we would not have had to escape at all. He took four innocent Vulcans hostage in order to get to me.”
“Do you acknowledge that the Vulcan High Command or your fleet commanders should have dealt with the situation properly in the first place?” Zannik looked earnestly at Soval. “Had this occurred then it is likely that this incident would never have become manifest.”
Soval reasserted his belief that their original plan was the fair and logical approach, but there was a ring of truth that niggled at his psyche.
Fetz Nakar sat in his cell on the Garran ship, marvelling at the fact that he was actually in a place of detention. There was no force field and no bars. He appeared to be in normal quarters. The doors swished open and closed. People were in and out with food and drink for him. From what he could see there were no guards, either. It was puzzling. He decided to test the lax security as a matter of honour. As he approached the door, it opened, revealing an empty corridor. Gingerly he raised his hand, expecting to come into contact with some kind of force field, but nothing happened. Shrugging his shoulders, he walked through the open doorway. He stopped short. He was walking into the room again. Confused, he turned. The still open door was behind him again. He squared his shoulders and strode through the door purposefully, straight back into the same room. He was intrigued. After his third attempt, he turned to find Luca Antares, who stood with folded arms looking somewhat amused.
“You have become familiar with the Protaxian Loop,” he said, grinning.
“What is it?”
“It’s our answer to bars and guards. How it actually works …… well, it wouldn’t be a good idea to let you in on that right now. Maybe later! Suffice to say that you will not be able to leave your quarters.”
“Can you tell me what is happening then? How long am I going to be here?” he asked, feeling frustrated.
“As soon as the Ambassadors have finished arguing over your fate, you’ll be the first to know the outcome,” Luca told him. He stopped for a moment, eyeing the pirate. “You have no idea of the interstellar incident you’ve sparked, have you?”
“What do you mean?” Fetz Nakar listened intently to Luca’s tale of how his future hung in the balance. After some time in deep thought he said, “I need to see Sylea.”
“How are you?” Sylea asked, strolling in through the open doorway.
“How does that work?” asked Nakar, hoping to catch her off guard.
“What? The Protaxian Loop?”
“Yes! It’s fascinating!”
“Well, I’ll tell you,” she said smiling. “Right before you leave.”
He sighed. “It was worth a try! Now, what is going on?” he asked.
“What do you mean?”
“The debate over my future. You know I have to go with the Vulcans.”
She stared at him in surprise. “Why? The ambassador is going back on his word to help you. I promised you that I would assist you and I will not turn away from it.”
“Let’s sit down,” he said. “We need to look at this ….logically.” She gave him an accusing look. This was no time to joke.
He took her hand as they sat down. “Thank you.”
“For caring,” he said, “it’s a long time since someone did.” He was silent for a while and she waited for him as he wrestled with the words. “I have to go with them. I have this genetic time bomb inside me that I need to understand. It is five years since what must have been this Pon farr. In two years time I need to be able to do whatever it is that you have to do to get through it without hurting someone.” She watched him as he steepled his hands in front of him, a natural Vulcan gesture. “I don’t have any other choice,” he said earnestly.
“We will find a way to help.”
“Do your people have experience of it?”
“No, but ……”
He stopped her. “I don’t want to hurt anyone else.”
“How did you become a criminal?” It was almost impossible that this man could be anything other than honourable. It also amused her how Vulcan he seemed at times. A great deal of the Vulcan nature had been passed from father to son.
“You already know that,” he said, “and you know what I have to do.”
“I suppose you are right.” She cringed at the thought of having to explain this to her uncle, Luca and Ambassador Soval. Patting his hand she rose to leave.
“What is your father like?” he asked suddenly. “I often wondered about mine.”
“Well, he’s grumpy, fractious, overprotective and totally wrapped up in his work,” She said “I adore him.” The fond look in her eyes spoke volumes. She sensed that he envied her.
Soval decided that the situation had blown itself into a ridiculous storm in a teacup. He spoke to Captain V’Nash decisively. “Get me Ambassador Zannik. This has to end.”
Zannik gazed back at him from the monitor. The mild mannered diplomat could have appeared weak to a lesser man than Soval, who had found himself respecting him. Not one sign of irritation had manifested itself on Zannik’s face or in his demeanour. His tone of voice had never been raised in anger or lowered in menace or shame.
“Ambassador Zannik, I have given this problem a great deal of thought. The problem of Fetz Nakar is one of honour to my people. However it is not to such a degree that I cannot bear to lose the argument.” Soval hesitated and looked down at the ground. “You may offer him shelter if you wish. We will consider it one less problem to have to deal with.” He drew himself up straight and raised his eyes to the screen. Zannik was smiling at someone who was just off of the screen.
“Ambassador Soval,” Zannik responded “Your communication was timely. I thank you for your gesture, but Fetz Nakar will shortly be on his way to your ship.” Soval looked at him in disbelief. He experienced some irritation that he had delivered his grand gesture only for them to capitulate.
Zannik stood back and gestured for someone to come forward. Sylea stepped into view. She stood looking at him with an awkwardly uncomfortable smile. Soval inclined his head politely and waited to be enlightened. Zannik’s eyes remained fixed on his niece, and she looked to him quickly before she spoke.
“We .... I …. must apologise to you, Ambassador, for this fuss.” She looked to her uncle once more. He was unmoved. “We.....I …..was so intent on defending Fetz that I ...” She looked at Zannik once more. There was no response. “I neglected to take into account what was best for him.”
Soval said nothing, but raised one quizzical eyebrow. He could see that she was trying to cover her discomfort in front of the two silent diplomats. She took a deep breath and said, “He wishes to be returned to Vulcan custody. He believes that you can help him with his physiological needs.”
Zannik now spoke, “We will be docking with you shortly to deliver him into your hands.”
Once again Soval remained silent and nodded to both before turning off the screen. “Illogical hedonists” was how his ancestors had defined them. It does not begin to ….. He abruptly banished the thought. No…he mused. There is so much more to these people.
“Please confine Mr Nakar to quarters and set a guard,” said Soval. “I don’t expect any problems from him.”
The security officer inclined his head and motioned to his men to do as the Ambassador ordered. He would have taken him straight to the detention cells.
Sylea had just come aboard with Zannik, and stood beside her uncle, watching Soval covertly from beneath the lashes of her downcast eyes.
“I trust we can return to business as usual on Golbar now,” Zannik said amiably. Bowing with both palms pressed together in the traditional Tau farewell gesture, he withdrew. Sylea lingered. “I owe you an apology,” she admitted.
“I believe you have already given one.”
“No….. I mean for suggesting that you were the same as the rest of the High Command. I know that is not true, I knew it even as I said it. I am very sorry for my behaviour.”
“As I said before your actions were not logical,” he said, catching her bristle slightly but remain penitent and dignified. “However, your concern for another being was also commendable. Please do not concern yourself about it. The incident is closed.”
“You are generous, Ambassador.”
“Besides we owe your people and yourself a debt as well. Without your help either the hostages or Koris and I would have been in desperate trouble.” He thought for a moment “Are you returning to Golbar with your uncle? If you are will you please join me for dinner this evening?”
She gave him a slow, lovely smile, the one that had intrigued him when he first saw her, “I would be honoured.”
The flickering candlelight seemed to enhance her natural luminescence, and Soval checked himself again and again through the evening. He had been experiencing emotional responses since the time they first met and they seemed to be getting stronger. They had discussed many subjects, moving from one to another with unprecedented ease. Soval found himself more and more impressed by her. At length his curiosity became too much for him.
“What does a Cultural Attache do, exactly? How does it work?” he asked.
“We are a team belonging to the ‘Outreach Project,’” she explained. “We are assigned to ships, sometimes planetside, but usually star ships of participating worlds. We are there to study their culture, behaviour, biology and, of course, in turn, we are there to be studied by them if they so wish.”
“How many are of you are on board?”
“We are alone.”
“Completely alone!” He was surprised.
“Yes, we call it total cultural immersion. It is better that way, as we can integrate more quickly,” she explained.
“That must be difficult.” Soval looked thoughtful.
“For some, yes, but most of us are empathic chameleons. We are able adapt very quickly. We pick up very soon on what is acceptable and what isn’t. It makes it easier for us to ……fit in”.
“Is that what you are doing now with me, behaving in an acceptable manner to a Vulcan?” He was irrationally irritated by the idea.
“A little, but please remember I am half Vulcan, Ambassador. My foremother, T’Mila, has taught me how to behave properly.”
“Yes, of course” He was both intrigued by her and attracted to her. For a moment, he was unsure of the certainty of his logic. This was not the time to analyse the situation. He decided to regard it as the consequence of a traumatic few days. He would revisit his state of mind at a later time.
“It is true of my father’s homeland,” she said. “It is what the High Command considers to be a hotbed of sedition and dissent on Vulcan. I believe they keep a particular eye on K’Lan-ne.”
He knew of it. K’Lan-ne - the only habitable area on the whole of the continent of Xir’Tan. Set between the beautiful but deadly Gorgoth and the great Voroth Sea, its breathtaking scenery was prized by artists from all over Vulcan. Its roots as an artists’ colony had left its inhabitants with a far more liberal attitude than most of Vulcan. He knew of colleagues and friends who had taken refuge there to escape oppression and intolerance elsewhere. He had heard whisperings of the tolerance of melders. It was seldom spoken of amongst the High Command, but the members of Vulcan’s highest governing body kept wary eyes trained in its direction.
“Tell me of your father.” His curiosity was fully charged.
“You ask a lot of questions for a Vulcan,” she teased, trying hard not to laugh at this unexpected behaviour.
He had raised an eyebrow, the small gesture fully expressing his deep interest. “Forgive me, but it is an unlikely union.”
She nodded “True! My parents were both archaeologists, passionate about their work.” She smiled “It appeared that their passion extended to each other as well.”
“The use of the word ‘passion’ seems unlikely be applicable to your father,” he pointed out.
“I know Vulcans have passions. They are just well hidden…..” she stopped and looked thoughtful. “Well, sometimes….. I have seen my father with a broken piece of pot, a lump of worked stone or a hulk of rusting metal and I have seen true passion.” Her eye twinkled with mischief, “I’m guessing that you are a passionate man too. You remind me of him.”
Once more the arched brow spoke a thousand words.
“They married and were together until she returned to Tau when I was four years old,” she continued, “I know no more. She died when I was six.”
He regarded her solemnly, and silence descended for a little while.
“You would appreciate Earth,” he said, abruptly changing the subject.
“I do not know of that planet. Where is it?”
“Their solar system is 16.2 light years from Vulcan. They are now developing warp drive and attempting to leave their own solar system. It is too early, of course. They have much to learn, but they are an intriguing race.” Pausing once again he ventured, “Has the Outreach Board or the Council of Elders heard of Earth? They might find it an interesting study case.”
“What is it like there?” she asked. He had had sparked her curiosity.
“It is two thirds water. Most of the land mass is in the northern hemisphere, and its landscapes and environments are as diverse as its people.” She noted that he seemed unaware of the fact that he spoke fondly of this world that he was describing. He spoke of the vast deserts, of dense jungles and rolling plains. She found herself listening in total fascination. He painted a vivid picture.
“Have your people studied an emerging species? It could be a valuable opportunity……” He stopped suddenly as he noticed that she was no longer listening. She was concentrating on something, though he did not know what.
Suddenly alert again,she looked at him regretfully. “I am afraid that I have to leave Ambassador. I had not realised that so much time had passed. I have preparations to make before I go.”
“You are leaving? But the conference goes on for a few more days!” he exclaimed.
“I would like to stay on, but I am required on a first contact mission, urgently. That is why the Kahiri Martis was here. They came to collect me,” she explained.
“It was fortunate that they were around,” he agreed. But the news was unwelcome.
There was a momentary silence. “If you wish, you could explain to Zannik about the humans. He could act as intermediary with the Council of Elders on your behalf,” she paused. “It may be an interesting suggestion.”
He walked her to his door with reluctance, “I will indeed contact your uncle. I believe it is time that our two cultures resolved their differences. I believe we could have much to gain and learn from each other.” She nodded. There was nothing to be gained from pointing out that Garra Tau had never had a problem with Vulcan. “I will also discuss the subject of Earth and the humans with him,” Soval continued.
“I should allow plenty of time for that meeting,” she said smiling. “We are telepaths and, therefore, we do not need to verbalise. We do so because it is pleasurable for us, and here I caution you, one word will never be used where twenty will work just as well.” She hesitated for a moment, “Live long and prosper, Ambassador.” She raised her hand in salute.
“Peace and long life, Sylea,” he responded. A surge of regret escaped his control ….. regret that she was leaving so soon.
The door closed between them and he stood in quiet contemplation for a few moments before calling for his aide.
“Please arrange a meeting with Ambassador Zannik before we leave Golbar. We have much to discuss.”
Sylea stood outside the closed door for a few moments, analysing the strange feelings that meeting this man had aroused. She had experienced a sudden fondness for the ambassador, a connection with him. Was it because he reminded her of her father? Maybe it was his willingness to put himself in danger to save the hostages, even knowing the risk to his own life. He had saved her life…. She sighed, glancing back at the closed door. She hoped that this would not be last time they met.
Seven people have made comments
I really enjoyed this. You created an absorbing tale with interesting characters and...dare I say...a possible romance in the works? I can't imagine how challenging it must be to write for Vulcans such as Soval. There's a lot to explore and learn about them though, so thank you for writing this!
It turned out so well! You've really put a lot of love and attention into this. The italics look like they didn't transfer, though. That can be easily fixed. Did I forget to tell you about the HTML italics codes? Oops! Sorry! You've got to put the codes in or ask your poster (I'm assuming that was Myst?) to do it for you like this:
This would be in italics if you surround it with the symbols I've put around it.
Hmmm. The symbols didn't show when I tried to post them above. I'll email you with the correct codes.
Hey Julie, I hope you get lots of comments here! You deserve it! And readers, please see Julie's other stories written earlier but continue the story of Soval and Sylea into the future.
Bether - I'd say you're very good at vulcans too, I think you write T'Pol very convincingly, I recognise her. In fact, you write really well, keep it up.
I'd like to carry on and the next part will have the Enterprise crew so I suppose it could go through to the TnT side - if its good enough!!
So you ARE gonna connect this with Enterprise. Goody! I can't wait!
I'm on it already. Look out it could be coming your way soon!