Location: Vulcan Suurok Class Battle Cruiser, Ti’Mir.
Year 2156.275 Six Months Later
Captain Vanik watched the Viewing Screen intently. Whilst he had served the Vulcan Space Programme for eighty one years, this situation was new to him. He was studying the screen for something he knew he would not be able to see. What he was looking for were any signs of spacial distortions; the tell-tale sign of Cloaking technology. Nothing. It had remained that way since they had arrived on station at Mid Point, three days ago. Not a hint of the movement of a Warp signature; nothing. He rested his arms on his chair and placed the corresponding finger of each hand together. A voice from behind him spoke. “I imagine they are giving thought as to how to respond.” Vanik nodded his head gently in agreement. “That is the only logical explanation.” Another voice spoke, “It is the way of your people to be patient. I imagine they are not so very different. We too can wait.” Vanik was pleased with what he had heard. “Patience, it would seem, is not the sole preserve of those who came from Vulcan.” A gentle sigh. “A little impatience spoils great plans.”
Location: Vulcan. T’Pol’s Family Home
Six Months before
Trip turned to T’Pol, “They’re comin’ on line. We just have the Admiral to wait for.” T’Pol sat down next to Trip whilst they waited for all four panes on the screen to activate. The top right screen came to life: Admiral Gardner sat down. T’Pol began.
“Gentlemen, Minister, we have begun to consider how best to take advantage of the new arrangements and wish to make a proposal to you.” Gardner interrupted. “Before we proceed any further, can we deal with the matter of confidentiality? Right now, Star Fleet is involved in the biggest procurement exercise the world has ever known. Supply chains straddle continents, manpower had been diverted from dozens of industries. All because there is a great sense of purpose: a desire to be ready for the Romulan attack. I hope to God this peace mission is successful but, given it’s unilateral, I recommend knowledge of the Hope Strategy remains highly confidential, with as few brought into the loop as possible. We need to stay focused. On Vulcan this would be less of concern but on Earth, where self expression is considered more important than holding to tradition, we could be diverted by an old-fashioned ‘Peace Movement.'” Trip and T’Pol shared a knowing thought, their first serious conversation five years ago was about that very distinction. T’Pau spoke next and said rather less. “Agreed.”
T’Pol began again, “There are three distinct advantages to Mr Tucker joining me. Firstly, it sends out a clear message that our two species, even more distinct, are capable of Unity. Secondly, the Romulans are able to experience Mankind first hand. And the third is, and this should remain between those included in this conversation and the physician on Enterprise, Mr Tucker and I are capable of discrete communication. However, we believe in order to have maximum operational efficiency,” Trip could not help smiling at this euphemism, “we need to be able to control its use in both directions. Currently, only I am able to do so.” Jonathan was intrigued by this news, whereas to Soval it was no surprise. Shielding one’s thoughts was not the province of a novice. “I will now hand over to Mr Tucker.”
“Good Mornin’ all, or least ways, it is here. Given what T’Pol has said, I have spoken with the head of T’Pol’s Order and asked if he would be prepared to… ” and he searched for a word, “mentor me, so I can use the connection more effectively. He seems to have taken a shine to me,” only the Admiral and Jonathan smiled ruefully, “because to my surprise, he said yes.
“If you agree, we think the official line should be, as a sign of our deepening cultural co-operation, that I am invited to join the Order of Surak for a period of two years. T’Pol and I would leave separately for Seleya to distract any prying eyes and when I am ready, we will reach out to the Romulans. Your thoughts gentlemen, Minister ?” There was silence.
Soval spoke first. “Mr. Tucker, I worked closely with you when you commanded the Enterprise during the discovery of the Kir’Shara. I was impressed by your ability to adapt to a different role. I think the term is ‘you have my vote.’ ” Trip smiled. Bless him. Gardner was next. “Mine to Trip.” T’Pau nodded agreement and Jonathan gave a one fingered gesture of approval communicating ‘let’s do it’.
T’Pol finished off, “We thank you for your time and your support. I suggest, as of today we make no further contact. In order not to draw attention, I will return to Seleya immediately and the Enterprise shuttle should come for Mr Tucker two days from now at 1400 hours. Once out of the city airspace, it will divert to Mount Seleya.
“When the time is right, V’Lor will contact the High Command and request the use of a ship for an archeological survey of a nearby system which may have important cultural ties with Vulcan.” Everyone got her meaning and the link closed without further discussion.
Trip and T’Pol turned and looked at each other. Trip offered the thought let’s do it. and T’Pol nodded in agreement. Trip reached out and held her hand. Let’s not carried away, but I am here for you now. She came back That is all I needed to… and she raised an eyebrow hear. Trip smiled. That small display of humour spoke for her mood.
T’Pol had left. Trip had let the custodians know that he intended to stay a further two days before leaving for the Enterprise and took the opportunity to deal with a number of personal matters.
Later that afternoon
I want you to know all is good here but there has been a change of plans.
I am going to be attached to the Vulcan Monastery at Mount Seleya for a period of up to two years. It’s a great honour and will get me more involved in understanding how to use the Vulcan techniques of telepathy, which could give us a tactical advantage in certain types of confrontation with the Romulans.
I have been advised that T’Pol has been given a vital role in preparing for the coming war with the Romulans and thought it would be selfish to initiate Separation right now, having learned we will both be out of sorts for quiet a while afterwards. So, for both our sakes and the greater good, I have postponed my request.
There is an ancient Vulcan proverb which fits: ‘The Needs of the Many or the Few Outweigh the Needs of the One.’
One day all this will go away and we can get back to normal and move on with all the private matters which are important to each of us. For me, the most important one is being with you.
Keep safe Amanda and, if and when the time comes, give ’em hell.
Love you, honey
Trip embedded the message in one to Hoshi.
Things have moved on and all I can say is your Charm will always be with me. We both nearly died together once, let’s make sure us surviving means something.
Can you get the attached off to Amanda?
It was great to be with the real Hoshi. if only just for a few hours – you have so much life in you.
One day I’ll get to Japan and see you on your home turf. I promise.
Bless you, Hoshi
The letters written, there was one final matter to deal with.
He heard the sound of the gong in the courtyard announcing someone had arrived , this time Trip knew that Koss was in the courtyard. He beckoned him in and offered him a seat. ‘Thank you for coming. Just a couple of points I need to clear up and, if I may, I will get straight down to it.” Koss nodded. “Spoken like a Vulcan.” Trip frowned ironically. “How did you know that T’Pol had been appointed Emissary?” Koss looked at him. “A fair question, Tucker. It was T’Pau, who I gave aid to in the recent crisis, who confided in me.” Trip “Umm, OK.” She’s quite the politician, Trip thought. “That’s good enough for me. I was concerned about security.” Koss: “Understandable, but unnecessary.”
“The real purpose of asking you here was for what we call a man-to-man talk.” Koss remained impassive. Trip went on. “My first real conversation with T’Pol five years ago was over you, when she was put under pressure to return to Vulcan. She was conflicted about fulfilling her obligations all the way back then and I am telling you because it wasn’t personal, she barely knew you. It was entirely down to her evolving, if you like, finding her way on the Enterprise. Since then she has changed dramatically. That’s why I think you showed your real quality when you dissolved the marriage.” Koss thought carefully before answering. “Tucker, you are right. I am a more straight forward Vulcan and as an adult, I have recognised the difference. But it is not merely her experiences with the Enterprise. She has been a maverick all her adult life; her emotions have always been close to the surface.” Trip was genuinely interested in Koss’ observations. “And have you ever speculated why?” Koss looked down at the floor and thought about the question. “Her father died young. We know very little about him. Perhaps the answer lies there.” Trip nodded, “Possibly.” They looked at each other in respectful silence before Koss went on.
“But to return to you, you have chosen a more difficult road. Maybe the most difficult road of all. For that you should be commended. Your response to my visit does you credit. I bare you no ill will. Indeed, I want your mission to be a success; it is logical.” Koss stood, indicating he was finished. Trip followed, “Thank you. We finally understand each other.”
Koss looked carefully at Trip and to his astonishment raised his right hand in the traditional Vulcan greeting. “Indeed we do. Peace and Long Life.” Trip lifted his left hand the two outer and inner fingers locked together creating the V between the second and third. He was about to respond in kind but found himself using other words. “Live Long… and Prosper.” Koss nodded and withdrew.
Trip wondered who had put those words into his mind, no matter I sure hope so. I sure hope we all do…
The Next Day
Trip was ready for the journey. Knowing this would be his final opportunity to communicate with the outside world, he checked for any messages. Hoshi must have guessed she had to be quick and an hour ago she had sent him a reply from Amanda.
What did I say to you? Your days of hiding are coming to an end!
I have said all I want to about you. You know how I feel, but let’s be honest the time for that has passed. As a soldier, my sense is this is going to be a fight to the death – unless some kind of peace accord is negotiated. I am not optimistic but I hope someone is working on it. And then we can start talking about all the things we dreamed about these last six months.
A lot of people care about you, Trip, and we all want you to come back from this so we can carry on loving you in our own special way.
Give my best to T’Pol for a safe passage through the darkness.
Love you, Soldier.
Trip reread the message and switched the terminal off. He could not but ponder that, after three failed relationships before joining the Enterprise, he now had three extraordinary woman, who in their quite different ways, had formed an attachment with him.
He knew he would do whatever he could to honour each one.
Trip eased the door closed, crossed the courtyard and let himself out. He went out onto top of the public stairway and began descending, stopping for a brief moment.
He looked over at the City Hub, the suburbs below and up at the Villa. Like Earth, this was his priority: to protect them one way or another and ensure they survived. He turned and looked down the steps to the Platform and in the distance, Mount Tar’hana. The shuttle had just crossed the Volcano. He had better get down there fast; he didn’t want to keep Travis waiting.
Location: Mid Point
Six Months Later
Captain Vanik hit the communication button. “Our patience has been rewarded. The Romulans have responded to our request and they have accepted. Indeed, they have sent a flight path. Emissary, Companion, I will meet you by the shuttle departure gate.”