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Welcome Home, by myst123
“Enterprise is coming home. They should be here within a day.”
The news from Admiral Forrest was astonishing. After months in the expanse, with communication between the ship and Starfleet sporadic at best, the Xindis and humans not only came to an understanding, but had actively worked together to successfully prevent the annihilation of Earth. Soval had little faith in Archer’s abilities to lead the doomed mission, but the Captain not only prevented another holocaust, he had formed an alliance with the sworn enemy.
“Your people have done well. For an overly emotional being, Archer was able to accomplish the mission with a most satisfactory conclusion.”
Even over the view screen of his computer Soval noted Forrest’s eyes narrowing and his cheeks flush, and realized he must have said something to upset the Admiral.
“No thanks to the Vulcans,” Forrest spat out. “You just sat around…as usual…waiting for God knows what to happen before you would get off your collective butts to do something.”
Soval had known the younger man for 30 years. This response was not unexpected, but the vehemence was atypical.
“We have been working with Starfleet to interpret the data collected in the expanse,” the Ambassador reminded Forrest. “We have not been idle. If Captain Archer feels our assistance was not sufficient…”
“Captain Archer is dead,” Forrest interrupted. “We received a communication from Lieutenant Reed. After hours of scanning the debris field, he and his colleagues found no trace of Archer. After the weapon was detonated, he didn’t make it back to safety.”
Soval stilled. “Lieutenant Reed reported this?”
“Yes, the Tactical Officer on Enterprise.”
“What about the rest of the crew?”
“More than half were lost over the past two weeks. Enterprise was attacked several times, and many of the MACOs fell in battle.
“Lieutenant Reed is now the commanding officer of Enterprise?”
“Enterprise is still in the expanse. First Officer T’Pol was directed to disable and destroy the spheres causing the anomalies while Archer, Reed and a group of MACOs followed the weapon here. Reed will return to rendezvous with the crew of Enterprise and bring them to Earth. If all goes according to plan, they should be here the day after tomorrow.
Nodding his head briskly, Soval said, “I grieve for your loss. Captain Archer was…an interesting leader.”
Soval was among those present when the first survivors were transported down from space dock. Families had gathered to meet their children, husbands, wives, brothers and sisters who had been gone for the last year to fight the Xindi and to prevent the destruction of Earth. The small crowd was growing restless, anticipating the arrival of the last shuttlepod from the space station.
The lone Vulcan found his eyes wandering away from the scene before him and towards the San Francisco Bay. Sailboats dotted the bay, taking advantage of the clear February afternoon, but just two days prior the same view was empty of such activity. He glanced up. Today the blue sky above prevented the unaided eye from seeing the universe beyond, the sun bathing the Earth in warmth even as it hid the carnage immediately outside the atmosphere. The massive explosion of the Xindi weapon had lit up the sky for hours, and once over, the pieces of the giant sphere trailed across the sky, burning far into the night. Starfleet was already organizing the cleanup, determined to gather together as much of the debris as possible for examination and analysis. Meanwhile, the resilient humans had emerged and taken to the bay, indulging themselves by skimming across the water’s surface. Soval, who had once stood for an hour on the deck of one of these ancient forms of transportation, found the thought of such experiences disconcerting; he had been tossed about on the waves and the motion had an adverse affect on his digestive system. These humans found pleasure in the oddest places at the most challenging times: he felt he never would understand this race despite the decades he had lived among them. Give them a blue sky and a sunny day and humans would find a reason to hope for a better tomorrow.
The last shuttlepod finally approached and Soval refocused his attention. Emerging from the hatch, the crew looked tired, but the joy of family members cause their spirits to lift. Hugs, kisses, shouts, laughter, it was all too human. A couple of young ensigns were enveloped immediately upon embarking. Soval recognized the Denobulan doctor from the incident with the Klingon, recovered from Oklahoma, two years before. A small, dark-haired man next stepped down followed by another man Soval recognized, the ship’s engineer. The engineer reached back in to offer a helping hand to a striking, dark-haired MACO, and turned again, offered the last occupant his hand. Wearing a form-fitting red outfit, her hair much longer than necessary, was First Officer T’Pol. Once firmly on the ground, she glanced about and met Soval’s eyes within moments. He saw her posture grow more rigid. She turned to the engineer, who was being greeted by his own crowd of noisy humans, said something briefly, then turned and walked towards the Ambassador.
“What are you wearing?” Soval demanded as she approached.
“I’m well, how are you?” T’Pol responded.
Soval pulled himself to his full height and looked down his nose at the young Vulcan woman. She, in turn, looked down her nose at him.
“You were to return to Vulcan and resume your duties in the VHC. Instead, you turned your back on your duty and went to a part of space you knew was dangerously lethal to Vulcans without consulting…anyone. You are too impulsive, T’Pol. You endanger yourself without considering the outcome of your actions.”
“The crew needed me. My loyalty and duty were to complete the mission I was on, not turn my back upon my colleagues. Why are you still here on Earth? Why did you not return to Vulcan? The weapon could have destroyed Earth.”
"I was performing my duties, which required I stay on this planet."
"Was it logical to remain where you would more than likely be killed?"
Ignoring that comment, Soval continued. “Admiral Forrest tells me Captain Archer died. You had great regard for him, I know. But now that he is dead you can resume your position in the VHC. I have spoken with several members and your experiences within the expanse will prove valuable to us. We will meet with them tomorrow, and return to Vulcan in four days.”
T’Pol gritted her teeth. She didn’t expect the older Vulcan to express regret over Archer, but his dismissal of the man’s death was callous, even for Soval. Prior to the damage she did to herself with the Trellium D, she would have allowed the Ambassador to make his plans without comment. But her new emotions, plus months away from his dictatorial manner, had lessened the impact his decrees had upon her will and increased her stubbornness.
“I’ll let you know what I decide to do once I have had a few days to consider my options.”
“We need to be debriefed about the Xindi and the mission, which may take some time. Once concluded, I may join Starfleet, or ask for a non-commissioned position as a Science Officer, should the missions of exploration conducted prior to the Xindi attack continue. As I said, I need to take some time to decide.”
Soval was shocked into silence by her words. Never had he expected her to leave completely. T’Pol bit her tongue, aware she had reacted to his orders with less than the normal diplomacy she used when negotiating with him. She had hurt him with her bluntness, and should not have blurted out her intentions.
"Starfleet? Have the humans so contaminated you that you cannot make sound judgments? What can Starfleet offer you? You have an important career ahead of you."
T'Pol was not eager to begin the discussion at that moment, knowing Soval would get more dogmatic the more she argued her points. She believed humans and Vulcans had to work together to understand each other, not isolate themselves from each other and work across abysses. She had to find a way to convince Soval of this, that her way was the future for both Vulcans and humans, but this was not the time. She would plan her strategy for persuading him once she had time to think. Soval was correct. In the past, even the very recent past, her impulsiveness was damaging to her. She needed to understand what she wanted for herself and make decisions based upon that criteria. Those words from Commander Tucker, so long ago, still echoed in her mind, and continued to guide her. "What do you want to do?" he had asked. "That is irrelevant," she had responded, and he had countered, "No, it's not, it's very relevant." All her life she had tried to do what was logical, but she often found herself attracted to the illogical and sensuous - her subconscious did cause her to act at odds with the teachings of her culture. She had to face her own weaknesses in order to turn them into strengths. Soval wouldn't understand without a great deal of persuasion, and now was not the time.
“But that is not for discussion now. I just arrived back on this planet and would like to rest.”
“Will you stay with me?” Soval asked.
She looked at him, aware he was trying to make amends for his earlier manner by inviting her, rather than telling her what to do.
“Are you still living at the Vulcan compound?”
“Yes, of course.”
“May we go for a walk around Angel Island? I haven’t been outside and on firm ground for 6.5 months, and that was one hundred and fifty earth years ago.”
“We may.” Soval decided against comprehending the logic of that last statement.
“Yes, I’ll stay with you.”
“I had a new robe made for you. You can get rid of that garment you are wearing, which is not appropriate for a Vulcan. And I’ll make arrangements to get your hair cut. You did not have time to take care of such matters while you were on this mission.”
T’Pol looked at him resignedly. “What color is the robe?” she sighed.
T’Pol made her way back to Trip. He was talking to Admiral Forrest who had just arrived to greet the returning crew.
“We are to meet tomorrow at Starfleet at eleven hundred hours to start the debriefing. Are you ready to go? I’ve told my folks we’ll meet them for dinner in a couple of hours.”
“I can’t go with you tonight. Thank you for the offer, but I’m going to stay at the Vulcan Compound tonight and will meet you tomorrow.”
Trip glanced over her shoulder to the Vulcan standing off by himself.
“What did he have to say to you? You two seemed to have quite an intense conversation.”
“He was merely welcoming me home.”
T’Pol was aware Mr. Tucker was puzzled by her intention to stay with Ambassador Soval, and her relationship with the older Vulcan. But she also knew the human would not press her to reveal information simply out of curiosity. She had never discussed Soval, except in general or as an authoritative Vulcan dignitary, with the humans on Enterprise. The only one who appeared to see there was more to her relationship with Soval was Commander Tucker, and she had prevaricated with him. As usual, he accepted her non-committal response with a wry smile.
“See you tomorrow, T’Pol” and he turned to his gregarious family, and left. Momentarily T’Pol felt a pang of regret that she had not asked to bring Soval along instead. The image that scenario brought before her was too amusing, and she almost felt herself smile.
“Time travel is impossible!” Soval stated unequivocally, hours later.
T’Pol and Soval had returned to his quarters in the Vulcan compound. He had a modest dwelling and daily help who cooked and cleaned for him. T’Pol’s preferred repast – Plomeek soup and pecan pie – were awaiting them, as was the new blue robe. After donning the latter and joining Soval at the dining table, the two silently consumed their nutrients and sugar. T’Pol was somewhat intrigued to see Soval eat his pie with no urging. Afterwards, they took a short shuttle ride over to Angel Island and walked up and back the south side of the perimeter, which faced San Francisco.
The island had not been altered much in the past two hundred years. Pathways for exploration had been added, but the bunkers from the first part of the 20th century still dotted the island. The complex history of the island as both a hunting ground for the indigenous peoples, and as a military post and then a recreational facility underscored the complicated world of human history, which could change so rapidly within a decade or so. To Vulcans, such speed was unsettling and suspicious and thoughtless.
“Time travel is not impossible. I have witnessed it.”
“Archer deceived you. He was determined to impose human perception of time upon you and he created an illusion.”
“And your perception of the events which occurred in Detroit is more logical because….?”
“Where did you acquire this…may I say without judgment…sarcastic interpretation of Vulcan knowledge of the Universe?”
“I was merely indicating the fallacy of your assumption. I was not deceived. Captain Archer, Commander Tucker, and Doctor Phlox were not deceived. Captain Archer and I traveled to early 21st century Earth and brought back artifacts and bodies to prove the deception of the Reptilians and the Sphere Builders
Soval was more convinced than ever that T’Pol was under some unknown human influence which affected her normal scientific and logical mind.
“And this incident is your sole proof?”
T’Pol was determined to convince Soval to at least consider time travel possible. He had grown more and more closed off to new ideas over the years. She sometimes wondered if his interactions with humans caused him to shield himself behind his culture more firmly, as a means of protecting his emotions from breaking free.
“Time travel is illogical. But nothing about the expanse was based upon human or Vulcan knowledge. It was being reformed to accommodate transdimensional beings who live beyond this universe. They used their knowledge of time to convince the Xindi to attack the humans. Had they been successful, Earth would have been destroyed and, in time, Vulcan as well. Whether we want to believe time travel exists or not, we have to accept the reality that these other world beings knew humans would one day prevent the colonization of the expanse by the transdimensional beings.”
“So how does…did…Archer leap about in time so easily?”
T’Pol glared at Soval, tired of his sarcasm. But she continued her story.
“A man from the future, Daniels, was able to transport Archer through time to witness the events which should or should not have happened. Daniels claimed to be protecting the human time line.”
Soval raised a brow. “You don’t sound convinced of Daniel’s intentions.”
T’Pol hesitated, then agreed. “He has a ‘hidden agenda,’ as Commander Tucker would say. Daniels could have gone directly to the Xindi but he didn’t. Perhaps he could only approach Captain Archer. But Daniels has not proved he is trustworthy.”
“Is the timeline corrected, now that the spheres are gone and the weapon destroyed?”
“I don’t know. Captain Archer had other encounters with a shadowy figure who claimed to be from the future and who controls the Suliban. We don’t know where this future figure fits, if at all.”
Soval stopped walking and turned towards T’Pol. Under his scrutiny, T’Pol began to feel the whole explanation was foolish.
“Any other unknown, transdimenstional, shadowy future/past beings directing the humans in this fascinating narrative?” Soval inquired politely.
T’Pol decided at that moment not to tell Soval about Old T’Pol and Lorian. Some things were just beyond the comprehension of even the most enlightened Vulcan.
“Why do I bother trying to explain anything to you? You dismiss what I say and don’t value my observations or analysis. There are situations and beings out there Vulcans do not know and cannot understand. We do need humans to provide perspective on these seemingly illogical occurrences. In the end, the spheres were logical, and there was a way to destroy them, but Vulcans could not do so without the help of humans. Humans could withstand the environment when Vulcans could not. I myself was severely affected by the expanse and survived only because of the humans.”
T’Pol stopped, disturbed at her outburst. She had revealed too much.
Soval and T’Pol had stopped midway back along the south perimeter of the island. There were still several hours of light remaining, but T’Pol could see the first strands of fog creeping over the Golden Gate Bridge. She had forgotten how cold fog could be, and unexpectedly she longed for the heat of Vulcan.
Soval was unaware of his surroundings, focused as he was on T’Pol. Yes, she was very emotional. Her logical appeared sound, but here was a … passion to it.
“T’Pol, you must care for yourself. These humans are insidious. Emotions can so easily override our control, if we aren’t vigilant. I’ve spoken to you before of the effect Captain Archer has upon you, but you did not listen.”
“Captain Archer did not contaminate my emotions. I respected him, and that is all.”
“Then why are you so passionate when discussing the need to understand the human role in these events?”
“I have my reasons. But they are about me, not about any human.”
Soval sighed. Why could he not get a direct answer to his question?
T’Pol despaired. Why would Soval not listen to her when she assured him her response was not tied to any human?
“T’Pol, you are not responding to the events as a Vulcan. If not Archer, something has caused you to become overly emotional. You must isolate and control it. If you need help, I will consult with specialists and we will master this.”
“I *am* Vulcan! I am responding as a Vulcan! I’m not the robot without reflection you want me to be. My thoughts are my own. My reasoning is my own. My conclusions are my own.”
“I have never wanted you to be a robot. That is a human concept, with overtones of slavery. No Vulcan wants automatons.”
T’Pol was surprised by Soval’s words. What did he think Vulcan society had been generating over the past generation or two *but* automatons?
“Any thought expressed which doesn’t adhere to the strict interpretation of Surak makes Vulcans automatons. Can we not question our assumptions? As Commander Tucker once said to me, “Challenge your preconceptions or they will challenge you.” And that advice he received from a Vulcan!”
Soval was suddenly uncertain what the conversation had been about. Had it ceased to be about the evil of humans and instead become about the dictates of Vulcan society?
“T’Pol, you are becoming too emotional. You need to meditate.”
T’Pol sighed and looked out over the water. Over the past few years she had been unable to communicate with Soval. He was rigid in his views. She remembered a different man of fifty years ago. What happened to him?
“My emotions, or lack of controlling them, has nothing to do with human influeneces. I want to feel emotions. I want to know what we as Vulcans are so afraid of that we suppress our responses from childhood. Are we so horrible inside? I don’t want that for us. I want our logic not to be based upon fear of who we are, but upon knowledge of who we are. I want to be at peace, the way….”
“The way a woman I met in the expanse was at peace. A Vulcan woman, who had lived with humans, isolated from other Vulcans for over 100 human years. She was at peace. She learned to accept her nature and not fear it. That is what I want.”
“A Vulcan woman? Who was she?”
“She reminded me a lot of myself. You wouldn’t know her.”
Soval and T’Pol turned and walked back to the landing pad, and returned to the Vulcan compound. Soval was more mystified than ever by T’Pol. T’Pol was more at peace with herself than she had been in decades.
A whole mess of folks have made comments
Oooh, I liked this one a lot. I especially liked :
“She reminded me a lot of myself. You wouldn’t know her.”
The fact that I'm reviewing shows how good this 'fic was. I haven't reviewed in months. Anyway, I loved the concept and interaction between the two. Very real, very true. Will there be more?
This fic was excellent! I wish the show would have the courage to explore such concepts, instead of reverting to old storylines. The Vulcans have a lot to answer for in not helping the humans, which is no doubt a point of great internal conflict for T'Pol. How she must feel to know that Vulcan should have helped, but failed too, yet it is her world and people! Please continue.
Great fic Always like storys with Soval Please continue. Greatings from Denmark
I've definitely not been paying attention if I missed a Soval story! It was a fascinating exploration of how T'Pol and Soval see the world and each other, but very sad - as well as very amusing in places. I hope they have the time to talk some more and finally start to listen instead of just talking. It made me worry about Soval, too. Why has the poor old boy become more rigid? Not just the strain of living with Humans, surely? More, please?
[clonks herself around the head for not checking the Soval Annex more often!]
This is a wonderful story Myst...it really captures the essence of T'Pol, or perhaps the T'Pol we all want to see. Thank you for writing it.
How in the world did I miss this! I have to go exploring more often. This story was excellent. Great character interaction, along with some wonderful dialogue. You have an amazing grasp on T'Pol and it shows in your writing.
Great story -- I need to check this Annex more often! Interesting how T'Pol appears to be more openly emotional (frustrated, irritated, angry) with Soval than she is with the humans.
I'm very against Vulcans "accepting their nature"; their nature is savage. I agree with the content expressed, but feel it was worded poorly.
I loved Soval's worry over T'Pol. I was glad he invited her to stay with him. And it was great when she asked him why he stayed. Don't get the hair thing, though. No all Vulcans have short hair. Most, but not all.
Wow...that was powerful!
I loved this story, especially T'Pol's thoughts near the end. It is fun to deepen the Vulcan psychology from that which is only sketched out or hinted at in the 'canon'.
I am working my way slowly through all the stories here. They inspire me to write more myself.
Great story - loved the ending.
Very enlightening. And logical. Your understanding of Soval's plight and his deep-seated fears are spot on. Well done. I eagerly await the next installment.
Your insight into the ambassador's deep seated fears is spot on. Well done. I eagerly await the next installment.