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Author - Kevin | Genre - Challenge: POV | Genre - Drama | Rating - G | S
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"Clipping Clue-pons" POV Challenge
My normal formatting conventions apply for this story. 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).
“Ambassador, here’s the quarters we’ve set up for you…” Soval followed Commander Tucker into the small cabin. “I’m sorry about the size… It’s spare crewman’s quarters…”
“They are sufficient for my needs,” Soval brushed off the Commander’s concern.
Soval’s eyes traveled about the room until he saw the candles. He was unable to believe the Commander’s presumption.
“I know how important meditation is, so I’ve got candles for you,” Soval heard Commander Tucker say. He must have guessed at Soval’s focus. “It’ll be okay to light them here. I updated the internal sensors.”
Although Soval appreciated the Commander’s consideration, his methods were completely inappropriate. It was severely disrespectful to enter another’s private space and unimaginable to take their belongings. Soval struggled to control his reproach.
Soval clearly recognized the markings on the large one as indicating it was from T’Pol’s family.
“Commander, it is not acceptable to enter T’Pol’s quarters and remove her belongings for my needs.”
“Ahh…” Soval heard Commander Tucker stammer and then saw him rub his hand along the back of his neck. “They aren’t T’Pol’s…”
Soval could not believe it. Commander Tucker was compounding his actions with a lie. “They are not?” Soval replied accusingly.
Soval watched Commander Tucker sigh.
“No, they aren’t… Ahh… They’re mine.”
“Yours?” Soval replied in disbelief.
Commander Tucker seemed to straighten up and his face turned grim.
“Yes… They were a gift… I would never take something of T’Pol’s without her permission.”
Just then something triggered Soval’s memory and he conceded the possibility Commander Tucker might actually be telling the truth. It was entirely possible they were his.
Months ago Soval had puzzled over his agents’ report of Commander Tucker’s actions while on Vulcan. The Commander and T’Pol arrived on a Vulcan transport and the two immediately went to T’Les’ home. He stayed there two nights and spent the days with T’Pol going to areas Humans almost never visited during their time on Vulcan. They were some of his people’s most treasured sites, but Humans, in general, showed no interest in seeing Vulcan relics and normally preferred to remain in the cities.
Strangely Commander Tucker then arrived, bag in hand, at Earth’s embassy and remained in temporary quarters for three days. There was no indication he even left to eat as records indicated two meals a day were brought to his room. T’Les arrived the fourth morning, which had been remarkable in and of itself, and the two left over an hour later. Commander Tucker left the planet on a Starfleet transport that evening. Soval later found out T’Pol’s bonding ceremony had quietly taken place that afternoon.
The whole situation made little sense but he chose not dwell on it because he assumed his protégée had finally decided to settle down and abandon her non-traditional ways. His assumption proved faulty when he learned T’Pol was not living with Koss and left Vulcan to accept a position, a Commander’s position, with Starfleet aboard Enterprise. Soval had no idea why T’Pol would go through a bonding ceremony with Koss, only to reject her duties as his wife until T’Les regained her previous position at the Academy ten days after T’Pol left.
Soval looked down at the candleholders Commander Tucker provided for him–Commander Tucker’s own candle holders–and his understanding of the situation became a bit clearer.
Meditation candleholders were important symbolic elements in Vulcan society. They were not sold and the only way to possess a set was to be given them. Normally a child was given a set after passing the first maturity test. Often this was a set inherited from a second forefather or foremother, depending upon the sex of the child. Occasionally a new set would need to be made though.
Giving a set to outside the family was unheard of. Giving a set to an alien was simply unimaginable.
It was not possible to dispute Commander Tucker possessed his own set and the markings on them clearly indicated they belonged to T’Pol’s family. That meant he had received them as a gift either from T’Pol, or unfortunately, far more likely, T’Les. Tradition dictated the matriarch was responsible for giving them to the child. That role would fall to T’Les and Soval doubted even T’Pol would have violated that tradition.
That meant T’Les had given the candleholders to Commander Tucker. Soval doubted T’Les had a set made in the short time he was on Vulcan. The most likely scenario meant this set was T’Pol’s father’s. Soval wondered if Commander Tucker could understand the importance of the gift.
Soval knelt down and lit the flame. He had one more uncomfortable fact to meditate on this evening.
Soval felt the bridge rock after another hit. He was surprised to find Enterprise still in the fight. Earlier he was certain Enterprise would be no match for a single D’Kyr, let alone one supported by two Fo’dan. However, the commander of the D’Kyr cruiser made two crucial mistakes. He allowed Enterprise to disable his ship’s shield generators before raising shields and did not strike a fatal blow before a photon torpedo damaged his port nacelle.
The commander, in all probability, completely underestimated the abilities of both the Enterprise and its crew. The Humans had increased the ship’s offensive capabilities without informing the Vulcans. If the ship possessed Vulcan shield generators instead of primitive hull polarization, those mistakes would have proved fatal and a single ship would have destroyed three Vulcan cruisers. The second Fo’dan had just retreated out of weapons range with heavy damage.
“Sir, we’ve lost weapons,” Soval heard the tactical officer report. It had only been a matter of time before this was the case. Using superior Vulcan technology the commander of the combat cruiser finally recovered from his prior mistakes.
“Commander,” Soval heard Ensign Sato plead. “We can’t take any more…”
Soval considered Commander Tucker’s stance just behind his navigator. He appeared determined not to leave.
“Commander…” Soval heard the Ensign’s second attempt before Commander Tucker cut her off.
“I’m not going to just leave her down there…” The Commander’s response took Soval completely by surprise. Soval was not sure the Commander even realized what he said. Ensign Sato’s mouth just gaped open and she could not reply.
Soval watched as Commander Tucker rose slightly and turned toward his tactical officer. “Reroute emergency power to phase canons.”
Before that happened, Ensign Sato reported an incoming message. “Hull breech on C deck… They’re reporting casualties.”
Soval rapidly evaluated his options. Something possessed Commander Tucker to remain in a battle he could not win. Initially he felt it was Commander Tucker’s loyalty to Captain Archer. He knew that was the reason his bridge officers continued to support him even after their situation became hopeless. Humans never understood the needs of the many and often in their history sacrificed many in the name of an individual. However, Commander Tucker’s recent outburst, combined with knowledge Soval already possessed, raised doubt as to why Enterprise was still in orbit.
If his assumption was correct and Commander Tucker was not fighting this battle for Captain Archer, then he would have to act quickly. All their lives were in danger if Soval was correct.
Soval looked up to see Commander Tucker staring intently at him as if he were trying to see into the Vulcan’s mind. This was Soval’s opportunity. He had to save the lives of everyone on the ship… if he could. “He is right. We should withdraw. Our deaths won’t help Captain Archer… or T’Pol.”
Soval realized he hit his mark. Commander Tucker paused for a moment to consider.
Commander Tucker ordered their withdrawal.
Reason emerged from the conflict with… a possibility far more primitive and powerful.
Soval looked up from his position at the science station. Commander Tucker had left the bridge some time ago and had not yet returned. Even though Enterprise was cruising and would not reach its destination for a few more hours, he found it odd the Commander would abandon his post. He had left Lieutenant Reed in command just prior to exiting the bridge.
It was possible Commander Tucker was testing his crew’s loyalty. Soval knew not everyone agreed with their involvement in preventing a war between Andoria and Vulcan. Lieutenant Reed, Commander Tucker’s second, seemed especially uncomfortable with disobeying Admiral Gardner’s order. So far, though, Lieutenant Reed had supported Commander Tucker’s blatant disregard to remain neutral. It was possible the Lieutenant knew himself this was what Captain Archer would do if he were still in command.
Soval stood up and left the bridge in search of the Commander. He would advise him leaving his place on the bridge at this time was not wise.
When Soval found the Commander, he was in a conference room staring out the portal.
Soval stood silently just inside the room waiting for the Commander to acknowledge his presence. So far he had not.
Finally Soval saw the Commander sigh and run his hands through his hair.
“You’ll probably think this sounds stupid,” Commander Tucker started before pausing. “But I think they’re still alive.”
Soval cocked his head to consider the Commander’s statement. How could he believe something like that?
“You know, the Captain’s got more lives than a cat.”
Soval had absolutely no idea what the Commander meant. As far as he knew, a cat was a mammal and was born and then died.
“Also I just have this feeling… that if she were dead… I’d somehow know it…”
A slight wrinkle formed on Soval’s forehead. He was not sure how to respond to that statement. He was not willing to accept its possible implication.
Just then the Commander turned to Soval and shot him a grin. “I know, I know… That’s not logical… It’s not possible for me to know that. If T’Pol were here she’d tell me I’m being foolish…” Commander Tucker chuckled and started walking toward Soval. “Come on, let’s get back to the bridge before I’m thrown in the brig for disobeying an order.”
Soval was not sure Commander Tucker was ‘being foolish’. A part of him said it was possible, although entirely unexpected, the Commander might actually know if T’Pol had been killed in the attack on the compound. The throbbing in his temples got worse before he was able to push the pain aside.
Soval’s level of comfort did not improve when he realized the Commander had sought out the closest room with a window facing toward Vulcan. He wondered briefly if the Commander’s actions were conscious… or driven by something… more primal.
Soval pushed those thoughts aside as he followed the Commander back to the bridge. They had much work ahead of them if they were to convince Andoria the High Command was planning a surprise attack.
Soval walked purposefully toward main engineering. He found himself as de-facto first officer to an acting captain who had not even been born when Soval was named Vulcan ambassador to Earth. But he had only hesitatingly accepted the role after realizing no others were able to convince Commander Tucker to serve the needs of his crew first. He was acting Captain, which meant he must behave differently than Chief Engineer.
Even now, Commander Tucker abandoned his place on the bridge for engineering. He was working without rest in order to restore full speed to Enterprise. At their present speed of Warp 4.1, it would take almost two more days to reach Vulcan. Assuming Commander Tucker restored full speed immediately, which was unlikely to happen, the best he could do was cut 20 hours off their travel time.
With no critical injuries to the crew and a cease-fire called, there was no reason for Commander Tucker to be pushing himself or the ship this hard.
No logical reason, of course.
Soval felt the weight of T’Pol’s known status himself. All they knew was T’Pol had been captured alive and charged with treason. They did not know where she had been taken, or even if she were still alive. Treason was one of three crimes still punishable by death.
Soval knew V’Las would not have hesitated to order that sentence carried out.
Soval was skeptical that T’Pol had been executed already, though. He did not believe V’Las would want his opponents to “silently disappear”. Soval’s impression was V’Las needed to make an example of the Syrrannites. If he could link T’Pol with the Syrrannites, he could in turn, link them to P’Jem.
Soval was not sure what Commander Tucker believed. Humans tended to believe the worst and even more so when Vulcans were involved. As far as he knew, Commander Tucker had been in main engineering constantly since their last communiqué from Captain Archer seventeen hours ago. The ship’s speed steadily increased over time from an initial Warp 1.9 to reach its current Warp 4.1 less than an hour ago.
Enterprise arriving one day quicker would not change T’Pol’s status. If V’Las had not already ordered her execution, that meant she was still alive and would ultimately be found. If he had…
Soval crossed the bulkhead into main engineering and found Commander Tucker hunched over a display screen with his head in his hands.
“Commander Tucker…” Soval said softly in order to get his attention.
Commander Tucker rose up, took a deep breath and looked at Soval. Although Soval suppressed his emotions as well as any Vulcan, he had been among Humans long enough to read their expressions. It took very little to discern the amount of worry in Commander Tucker’s eyes.
“You probably don’t know anything about subspace harmonics do you?” Commander Tucker asked him.
Soval shook his head. “I was trained as a diplomat.”
Soval watched Commander Tucker slump his shoulders slightly and turn toward the panel.
“I didn’t think so… T’Pol…” Soval saw Commander Tucker’s right hand tremble slightly as he paused. “T’Pol usually helps me with this stuff.” Commander Tucker’s voice trailed off as if he were not speaking to Soval at all.
Soval looked around to make sure no others were in range. “Commander, your behavior is not logical,” he spoke softly to ensure he was not overheard. “There is nothing you can…”
Just then Soval was cut off by Ensign Sato’s page of Commander Tucker. “Tucker here,” he replied.
“Commander, I’ve got an incoming message from Vulcan…”
Soval saw Commander Tucker close his eyes.
“I’ll route it into your office,” Ensign Sato continued.
Just then Soval heard Commander Tucker’s breathing change. It was a change so unexpected it actually startled Soval. Commander Tucker’s breathing perfectly simulated the calming practice one performed just prior to receiving the Tar’bohla posture.
Before he could fully grasp the implications of Commander Tucker performing a neuropressure exercise, he was distracted by Commander Tucker’s response.
“Who’s it from?” Soval heard Commander Tucker’s voice waiver slightly.
“T’Pol.” Soval could recognize the relief in Ensign Sato’s voice even over the communication system.
Soval struggled to control his response and was forced to increase his speed to catch up to the Commander. Soval had to confess he wished to see his former protégée alive and well too.
Once in the office, Soval was off to one side of the desk, almost facing Commander Tucker when he turned on the view screen.
“Hey…” was all Soval heard Commander Tucker say before his voice left him. Soval saw his eyes water and turn glassy.
“Captain Archer felt I should inform you of my status.”
Commander Tucker just sat there smiling. Soval decided to take advantage and move into the field of view.
Soval watched, as T’Pol turned a bit more rigid. “Ambassador. I was unaware you were aboard Enterprise… It is agreeable to see you.”
“As it is you… We were… unaware of your status.”
Soval watched as T’Pol’s eyes glanced away from the screen and she no longer faced them. He was not pleased to see a large bruise on the side of her face. He was not yet ready to admit Vulcans would resort to physically torturing one of their own in order to extract a confession.
“It was fortunate that V’Las wished my trial be public before my execution was carried out… It allowed time for my release from captivity.”
Soval heard Commander Tucker silently exclaim, “Oh my God…”
Soval saw T’Pol again shift her gaze but refrained from looking directly into the screen. “I am safe now… Those of us captured at the compound were held at a maximum-security detention center… It took some time to find us since no record of our incarceration was created.”
Soval heard Commander Tucker swallow hard multiple times. He still had said nothing.
Soval then saw T’Pol finally turn to once again look at the screen. She seemed to focus her attention on him instead of Commander Tucker. “Ambassador… I wish to speak with Commander Tucker privately…” Soval stood motionless as she hesitated. “It has to do with ship’s business… I assume you understand.”
Soval nodded before leaving.
He was certain T’Pol asked him to leave to discuss a topic that had nothing to do with the ship’s business–unless the emotional well being of the acting Captain could be considered ship’s business.
It was possible cutting 20 hours off their travel time was more important than Soval earlier realized. It was unfortunate he could do nothing to assist the Commander.
Soval stood up as the young Vulcan male entered his office.
** “You requested my presence, Ambassador?” ** Koss said flatly.
** “Yes.” ** Soval replied. ** “You have annulled your marriage to T’Pol.” **
Soval watched carefully as Koss stared at him and seemed to consider his answer.
** “The need for it no longer… exists.” **
Soval tried to discern Koss’ meaning. Soval believed he knew the reason for the atypical arrangement. He wondered how much more Koss understood.
** “Even with recent upheaval, an annulment still carries a stigma… The previous arrangement was already seen as improper.” ** Soval was not necessarily surprised with T’Pol’s behavior given her increased isolation from Vulcan society but for Koss to accept this was difficult to understand.
Soval considered the young male before him. If anything, he appeared colder and less easy to read than before.
** “There was no logic in maintaining the bonding.” ** Soval waited during Koss’ definite pause. ** “T’Pol’s… interests… lie elsewhere… It was highly unlikely the situation would ever prove… workable.” **
** “Indeed,” ** came Soval’s curious answer. ** “I find your explanation acceptable.” **
With that Koss bowed and left Soval alone in his office.
A slight wrinkle appeared on Soval’s forehead as he considered his own observations. He knew for certain Commander Tucker cared very deeply for T’Pol–he was not quite ready to call her Commander T’Pol. Choosing to visit T’Pol’s home and her mother instead of his own family held special meaning for Humans. Even Admiral Forrest expressed some concern with the event. Although each desired a closer relationship between Humans and Vulcans, neither was quite prepared to relinquish all of their own prejudices.
Koss implied in so many words he assumed T’Pol reciprocated those feelings. This confirmed Soval’s suspicions that the bonding was nothing more than a trade in exchange for T’Les’ reinstatement. He doubted Koss’ family had anything to do with the false accusations against T’Les’, but once T’Pol was a member of his family, they would have no choice but to support her. The fact that Koss sought an annulment almost immediately after T’Les’ death was public acknowledgement of that arrangement.
Koss would not have done that if there were any possibility of the bonding being successful. That meant Koss knew something that led him to believe T’Pol would either be an unfaithful wife or an unfit mother. In the brief time the two spent together, it was not likely he could have discerned her parenting skills.
Soval was unwilling to accept that T’Pol would simply throw away basic tenants of Vulcan culture, even if she disagreed with the Vulcan authorities. Since T’Pol refused to live with Koss after their bonding ceremony, Soval assumed T’Pol was being faithful to someone else. It was now clear to him that someone else was Commander Tucker.
Soval felt a slight twinge of pain in his temples at the realization before pushing it aside. T’Pol’s choice of a Human was inconvenient and forced him to evaluate his own prejudices. No Vulcan female had ever made this choice and the Vulcan males who selected Human mates were outcasts. He was not ready to cast T’Pol aside as if she did not exist; yet he was not ready to accept her abandonment of her responsibility in Vulcan society. She was at the age where she was supposed to settle down, maintain a home and raise her children to be proper Vulcan citizens.
However, of the Humans Soval had met over the past decades, he could think of none more suited for the challenges they would face. Soval’s recent observations of the Commander showed him to be more mature, more rational and more devoted to peace than the man he observed prior to Enterprise’s mission into the Expanse.
Soval wondered how much of that was T’Pol’s influence before deciding to end this line of reflection altogether. It was a pointless exercise. With the dissolution of the High Command and formation of a new government, he had much to do that was within his power to influence. Dwelling on his protégée’s choice accomplished nothing. There was little he could do to protect her any longer.
Have a comment to make about this story? Do so in the Trip Fan Fiction forum at the HoTBBS!
A whole mess of folks have made comments
Nice! Excellent job at capturing Soval's voice and I really like the gradual realizations that he comes to. The bit about ADM Forrest expressing some concern about Trip accompanying T'Pol home after the Expanse mission was a nice touch and I absolutely loved the idea of T'Les giving Trip the candleholders.
nice i like this story, but will there be a sequel with the 'private' meeting t'pol wanted?
I forgot to add: "As far as he knew, a cat was a mammal and was born and then died." cracked me up! I could so see a Vulcan giving The Eyebrow at the usage of that phrase... lol
Thanks. Yes, I plan on writing a short sequel with that conversation. I initially thought about including it in this story, but from Soval's POV, it wouldn't be as interesting. Also with him in the room, the conversation would have been a bit stilted.
With Soval out of the room, and telling it from Trip's POV, I have more flexibility.
That was a great POV story with an extremely plausible 'catching a clue' scenario! You've made Soval a very believeable character here.
Great job! Thank you for writing this. I really enjoyed it.
Excellent, Kevin. I'll have to go back and watch the episode with this story in mind.
Very nice. I look forward to the sequel.
Nice job as usual Kevin. Please continue to write these gems for us to enjoy.
This was nice, looking forward to the Trip's POV story.
Nicely crafted POV. I too like the realization building slowly. There were many nice touches but the candles being something that had to be given was so Native American, like I have seen with members of my family and the smaller community we try to keep traditions of while having to function within the larger dominant society we live in - though I imagine other human cultures have similar practices. Miigwech (thank you).
Great story Kevin! It's great to still have fresh stories to read - and really good ones to boot! Like everyone else - looking forward to Trip's pov.
Delightful. And the bit about the candles, inspired :)
Cool! Well done, I liked it a lot! :)
oh wow... the candle holders really got to me. that they'd have come from T'Les... wow.
Great story telling. I enjoyed it very much.
Thanks everyone for the comments. I'm especially glad people liked the candleholder subject. I wanted some way for T'Les to discretely tell T'Pol she supported her daughter's choice. Soval guessed correctly that they were T'Pol's father's and had Trip ever shown them to T'Pol, she would have immediately recognized them.
I'm not sure when I'll write the private scene with Trip and T'Pol. I'm working right now on a sequel to "Changes" that takes place between "Rajiin" and "Impulse". I'm also thinking about making the sequel to this story contain two scenes-one from Trip's POV and one from T'Pol's point of view. And my interests right now lie more in season three and getting TnT on a Vulcan transport headed "Home".
Miigwwch is very well said. It is important to protect ones culture. It is also nice to see that Vulcan was not a typcal patriarchial society. It was is one of the best parts of the series.
AAnii Ansihna Linda
What a great idea! I really liked the candles and the whole first scene between Soval and Trip. Just a great all around story Kevin!
That was a great POV with Soval!! I really enjoyed that...thanks for writing it!
Very, very nice. Loved the whole part from where Trip asks Soval if he knows anything about subspace harmonics. And the video conference call where Trip finds out T'Pol is alive.
I hope you write one where T'Pol gets the message. It would be intresting to see if Soval helps them get together. Au of course
Nicely played out. I love Soval and was pleased that he would not be quick to abandon her as an outcast, he's too noble. I could see the eyebrow lifting at the cat comment too.