Trip woke up in the morning and he was alone in bed. The night before he had the most incredible sex in his life and now she was gone. Rolling over onto his back, he grabbed his pillow, put it over his face, and growled into it. I had sex with a Vulcan and scared her away. Well, we at least know Vulcans don't cuddle after sex. Well done, Trip. Tossing the pillow aside, he got out of bed and headed out of his bedroom towards the kitchen.
Walking completely naked into the living room, he was surprised to see T'Pol in her undergarments sitting on the floor meditating. She slowly opened her eyes then raised her left eyebrow at his state of dress.
"You didn't leave," he said.
"No, Charles, I didn't," she replied. "Do you often walk around your apartment in the nude?"
Trip looked down at his nakedness, blushed, and then grinned at her.
"I thought I was alone," he said.
"I see," she said.
"I put something on," he said then turned around and went back into his bedroom.
It took less than a minute but he returned wearing his pants. T'Pol was still seated on the floor in her meditation position.
"I was going to make breakfast. I think I have some tea and fruit for you," he said.
"What kind of fruit?" she asked.
"Grapes and oranges."
"I'll have grapes with a cup of tea," she said calmly.
"Okay, it'll be a few minutes," he said.
She nodded then closed her eyes to finish meditating. Trip went into the kitchen and started to make a pot of coffee then he scrambled some eggs and toasted a couple slices of toast. When he was done, he had put a plate of grapes and a cup of tea in front of one chair on his dining table and coffee, a plate of scrambled eggs, and toast with butter and orange marmalade in front of another chair. He went into the living room and clears his throat. T'Pol opened her eyes.
"Breakfast is ready," he said.
"Thank you, Charles," she said.
"My pleasure, darlin'," he replied.
She stood up and joined him at the dining room table. T'Pol sat across from Trip. She picked up a grape and ate it.
"Do you want to talk about last night?" he asked.
"I believe that you be a satisfactory idea."
"Um, I just wanted to say that last night was… well, it was great, and I hope it's not the last time we can be together," he said.
"I would like to pursue a relationship with you, Charles, but for both career and personal reasons it must remain private. For now no one else must know about it," she said.
He knew Vulcans were private by nature, so he could understand what she was saying. Plus, having an affair right now with a Vulcan refugee might be frowned upon by Starfleet. Privacy seemed like an excellent idea.
"I have no problem with private, T'Pol," he said.
"Also, if we are to be in relationship, Charles, then I must be your only sexual partner. Vulcans are monogamous by nature," she said.
"Darlin', I don't know what you kind of man you think I am, but when I'm in a relationship I'm not the one who cheats," he said.
T'Pol nodded her approval.
"So, you and I are in a relationship," he said.
"I'm schedule to leave for a few days to stay with my family in Florida on the panhandle. I'd like to spend time with you when I get back," he said.
"I must leave tomorrow to see my mother. When I return I'd like to spend more time with you, also. Unfortunately, I'm not sure about spending time here," she said. "It will be noticed."
"I know," said Trip. "Now that the design phase is done, I can start scouting a place on Mars. I am overseeing the building of our ship."
"As am I," she said. "It would be fortuitous if we were able to get quarters close to each other."
"We'll go hunting for places when I get back," he smiled.
"That would be satisfactory," she said.
He ate some of his eggs and a few bites of toast. T'Pol sipped her tea after a few more grapes.
"So, you don't have to leave until tomorrow," he said.
"Um, would you be interested in joining back in my bed after breakfast?" he asked her.
"I am not tired," she said.
There was a hint of humor in her expression. Trip was sure of it. It was strange, but he was sure that he could now read her slightest facial gestures.
"I wasn't interested in sleeping, T'Pol. I was kind of interested in something else," he said then smiled.
T'Pol couldn't explain the reason why, but his smile made her heart beat faster.
"Then I would be glad to spend time in bed with you, Charles."
His smile turned into a sly grin.
The Enterprise arrived at the crab nebula. Archer looked out at the colorful phenomenon. It was electric blue with streaks of white and green blending into it.
"Tatupu, hail Shran," he said.
"Sending out a hail, sir," Tatupu replied.
It didn't take long until the Kumari responded to the hail. Tatupu put Shran on the comm, as they had no visual of him.
"Pinkskin, why are you bothering me?"
"We need to talk Shran. My ship or yours?" asked Archer.
"I have Andorian Ale to offer. What do you have?" he asked.
"I got some Kentucky bourbon I think you might like," said Archer.
"I'll shuttle right over. Prepare a meal and have several bottles of that bourbon waiting," he said.
Archer and Shran finished their meal of roast beef, potatoes, and green beans. They were now half way through the first bottle of bourbon. Archer noticed that Shran's antennae appeared twitchy, which meant that he was anxious. Secrets were being kept. Archer took a sip of the bourbon.
"I like this buuurbon," said Shran.
"I do, too. It's what we call a sipping whiskey," said Archer.
Shran picked up his glass and drained the contents.
"I don't like to sip," he said.
He smiled. Archer thought with his blue skin, white hair, and white teeth that he looked like a real version of Jack Frost. He poured Shran another glass.
"So, you know it as well as I do that the Romulans are a potential enemy for you as well as for us. We need each other, Shran, so why don't we work together," said Archer.
"You are protecting Vulcans," he spat.
"They need protecting. The Romulans invaded their world."
"We do not trust Vulcans," said Shran.
"You don't have to trust them. They have six military cruisers left and that's all. Instead of worrying about the Vulcans you should be worrying about Romulans," said Archer.
"On P'Jem not all those monks are monks. Some of them are V'Shar, Vulcan Intelligence and they run a spy array, which they use to spy on Andorian communications. Prove we have nothing to fear from the Vulcans and shut it down," said Shran.
"Are you sure about this?" asked Archer.
"I am positive, Pinkskin," said Shran.
Archer took a long swig of his drink. This was a complication he hadn't expected. He needed to talk to Forest.
"I need to talk to my superior. If he gives me the okay, then we'll shut down the array," he said.
Shran smiled, "If you do that, Pinkskin then we can talk about a mutual protection treaty. If the Romulans attacks you then they attack us and vice versa."
"I need to contact my superior first."
"I understand," said Shran, "we are merely soldiers."
"The Romulans are dangerous to both our people, Shran."
"I know, Pinkskin. I would relish a treaty between our people. I can smell a bloody war brewing and I'd rather have you as an ally than a stranger."
Archer picked up his glass, toasted Shran, and then downed the last of drink.
The crowd outside of the MOMA included some Vulcans, Denobulans, and Rigelians. It was a shock to all when the man announced himself a follower of Terra Prime then exploded a terrorist vest. When the first responders had finished cleaning up there were twenty-five dead and double that number with serious injuries. Half of them would need prosthetics.
The Prime Minister appeared on the holo an hour later calling it an act of barbarism and cowardice and that Terra Prime would be dealt with harshly. Prejudice, terrorism, and the kind of hatred that relied on suicide bombers needed to be punished. He also announced UE Security would be starting an investigation into Terra Prime leaders.
Section 31 Chief, Jensen Harris, sat behind his desk feeling a sense of pride. The first part of destruction of Terra Prime had begun. One act of terrorism had turned them from a growing organization to a terrorist one. Their poll numbers plunged and sympathy for the Vulcans grew over night. If everything went as planned then Section 31 wouldn't need to interfere again in the affairs of Terra Prime.
Trip arrived at his parents place on the beach later than he expected. He and T'Pol spent several hours in his bed before parting. His parents lived in Navarre in Santa Rosa County. For the last ten years they owned a place right on the edge of the white sands of Navarre Beach. After paying his fare and getting out of the hover-taxi, he stood for a minute and breathes in the sweet salt scented air.
"Trip," he heard his baby sister's voice, "you got here late."
He looked over to see Elizabeth Tucker. She was twenty-five years old and already had a name as an architect. He smiled at her.
"Hey, Liz," he said.
She ran up to him and gave him a hug. More than his brother Dennis or sister Rebecca, he was close to his sister Elizabeth. She picked up his duffle bag for him and started to carry it the house.
"No uniform," she said.
"Nay, left it at home," he said.
"Oh, too bad. I love showing off Commander Tucker to people," she said.
"It's Captain Tucker now," he said.
She stopped walked, dropped his bag, and gave him another hug.
"When did that happen?" she asked.
"Month or so ago," he said.
"And you didn't tell any of us," she said. "Just for that I'm going to be the first to tell mom and dad."
She ran off to the house. He picked up his bag and followed her. By the time he got into the two stories, weathered home, his sister was in the living room crowing about her brother being Captain Tucker now. Trip saw that his mother and father were proud. Elaine and Charles Tucker II were always proud of their children.
"Trip, is it true? Are you a captain now?" asked his mother.
Charles, or Charlie to his friends and family, stuck out his hand to his son. They shook.
"Well done, son."
"How did you get here?" his father asked.
"I took a shuttle to the Starfleet base at Pensacola and from there a hover-taxi," he told him.
"Good to have you home," he said to his son. "Your mother has the room on the first floor cleaned up for you and tomorrow Dennis, Alice, and Charles the Fourth and Victoria the first will be here along with Rebecca. The whole family will be together for a few days."
Elaine Tucker walked up to her son, got on her tip toes, and gave him a kiss on the cheek.
"Glad to have you home, Trip. I've got some fried chicken in the oven for you and potato salad in the refrigerator," she said.
"Sounds good, ma," he said.
Along with Shran as an observer, Archer and five fire teams of Marines in battle armor and carrying the new particle rifles landed on P'Jem in a troop transport shuttle. Admiral Forest had contacted Soval and Solkar and explained the need to turn the Andorians into an ally. The treaty with Vulcan's Government in Exile was important to the UE, but in order to face the Romulans allies would be necessary. Soval and Solkar agreed to an ostentatious display exposing the surveillance station. The Vulcans understood that the Andorians liked a good theatrical display of power.
Offloading from the shuttle, Archer led the Marines into the monastery and retreat. The lead monk Master Tadock greeted them at the door.
"This is a place of peace," he stated.
"This is a spy post," said Shran.
Archer sent a glare over his shoulder letting Shran know that he'd be handling this. Shran backed down.
"Master Tadock, the monastery may be sacred but the sensor array and surveillance equipment built beneath it are a provocation to an ally, the Andorians. We are here to destroy the surveillance equipment and Commander Shran is here to observe," stated Archer.
"Please be careful. Some of these buildings go back to Earth's 9th Century. This is an important part of Vulcan's history," said Tadock.
"We'll be careful," said Archer then he turned and looked at the Marine Major in his all black BDU's and armor. "Major Tollenson, take your men and get to work. The surveillance array in beneath the monastery and manned by V'Shar agents."
Major Tollenson nodded then turned and addressed his Marines.
"Marines, switch from particle rifles to phase rifles with settings on stun. Let's find the passageway to the surveillance array, clear the area, and then demolish equipment. Is that understood?" he barked.
"Oorah," replied the Marines in unison.
Archer and Shran stood back and watched the Marines get to work. Within five minutes they found the passageway and headed down towards the surveillance array. Once there they stunned five V'Shar agents, removed the other six, and then started destroying the equipment.
"These warriors of yours are efficient," said Shran.
"And determined," added Archer.
Shran's antennae stood straight and swayed slightly, a sign of his satisfaction.
"You have come a long way in making an ally today, Pinkskin. I have been authorized to arrangement for a diplomatic mission to Andoria," said Shran.
Archer said, "Sounds like a good start to me, Shran."
"It is, Pinkskin. Who knows soon Andorian cruisers may be helping you to guard from the Romulans this Starbase you are building," said Shran.
Archer smiled. Yes, this was a good start.
The shuttle T'Pol had taken landed on the shuttle pad of the new Vulcan Compound in Dubai. Exiting the shuttle, T'Pol found the weather more to her liking, though it still wasn't as warm as Vulcan. She had her ID to a Vulcan guard then made an enquiry.
"I am looking for the housing where refugees are staying," she said.
"The refugees are staying on a manmade island. A hovercar can take you to them," he told her.
"The refugees are not part of the Vulcan Compound."
"They are too many. It was decided to make an arrangement with Dubai to lease one of their manmade islands from them," he said.
T'Pol nodded then went in search of a hovercar to take her to the island. The island was located between The Palm of Jebel Ali and The Palm of Jumeiran in the Arabian Gulf. Finally, she procured a ride to the island. Travelling to the refugee encampment, she was surprised to see thousands of adobe-like bungalows crowded on the small manmade land mass. There were a mix of UE workers offering humanitarian supplies and vegetarian meals and Vulcan guards from the Government in Exile making sure that each refugee was documented.
T'Pol stopped at guard.
"I am searching for a recent refugee," she said showing him her ID.
He gave her the section and bungalow number. Making her way through the crowded area, she came upon the bungalow. She rang the bell and waited. T'Pau answered the door.
"How may I help you?" asked T'Pau.
"I am T'Pol. I am looking for my mother, T'Les."
"Please enter," she said.
T'Pol entered the adobe and was surprised to see that it was occupied by six Vulcans. A stately looking Vulcan was meditating in the living room, while two male Vulcan sat quietly in his presence. T'Pau escorted her to the kitchen where T'Les and another female Vulcan were preparing a meal.
"T'Pol, daughter, it is good to see you."
"And you, mother," replied T'Pol.
"Syrann will be done meditating soon. He will want to speak to T'Pol," said T'Pau.
"Syrann?" sad T'Pol then she looked at her mother. "You are Syrannites?"
"Yes," answered her mother.
"Are there many of you?" she asked.
"We number in the thousands," answered T'Les.
"As you know we believe that the philosophy of Surak has been perverted by the High Command," said T'Pau.
"Not perverted but watered down, T'Pau," said the calm, strong voice of Syrann.
He stood in the kitchen doorway towering over T'Pol. She looked up at him defiantly.
"T'Pau looks for conflict where I look for difference," he said.
"I did not know my mother was a follower of yours," T'Pol said.
"She is and has been for three years, fifteen days, and twenty hours," said Syrann.
"My studies in archaeology led me to believe that pristine and unabridged Kir'Shara existed," T'Les told T'Pol.
"I see," was T'pol's reply.
"You are working for the Government in Exile," said Syrann.
"I am working for them as a liaison with Starfleet," she said.
"Fascinating," said Syrann. "Is Starfleet strong enough to face the Romulans, SubCommander?"
"Why do you wish to know?" she asked Syrann.
"Because, T'Pol, I know the Kir'Shara is," said Syrann.
"Many have said that, yet it is still a myth and not a reality," she said. "What makes you different?"
"I carry the katra of Surak," said Syrann.
T'Pol was stunned. If this was true, Syrann needed protection. He was in possession of the katra, the essence, of Vulcan's greatest leader.
"Soval and Solkar must be told," she said.
"No. I prefer to remain anonymous until the katra can be transferred to a vre-katra," he said.
"Why?" she asked.
"Because I could easily be used as a tool by a government or a radical faction," said Syrann. "We Syrannites are about the preservation of the true words and philosophy of Surak, not about power."
"What do you want from me?" asked T'Pol.
"Before I tell you, may I mind meld with you. I need to know your katra before I can speak to you about your role," said Syrann.
T'Les stepped forward.
"He can be trusted, daughter."
T'Pol nodded her head in the affirmative. Syrann looked at T'Pol.
"Do not be afraid," he said.
"I am not afraid," said T'Pol.
Syrann looked at T'Les, T'Pau, and the other female Vulcan.
"Leave us," he said.
They obeyed without a word. Syrann stared at T'Pol for a moment.
"Your mother said that your emotions were always strong and often came to the surface," he said. "Do not fear this."
He stepped forward and placed the fingers of his right hand on her PSI nodes.
"You mind to my mind," he said.
"You mind to my mind," she repeated.
"Our minds are one," he said.
He could read her mind, her emotions, and her katra. But there was more, also. He could sense the beginning of a bond, a true, strong tel, and it was a tel with a Human, not a Vulcan. This tel was based on attraction and ashaya. She had found her katra mate, her t'hy'la. He ended the meld.
"Your katra is strong and pure. I see you are a true believer in Kol-Ut-Shan, infinite combinations in infinite diversity," he said.
"I believe the IDIC is an important part of Surak's philosophy," she said.
"It appears you are living it. You have the beginning of a strong tel with Captain Tucker. He is your t'hy'la," said Syrann.
"It is not possible for a Human and Vulcan to bond," she said.
A hint of a smile crossed Syrann's face.
"Close your eyes," he said with authority.
T'Pol closed her eyes.
"Search for the tel within you. The bond between you is held within both of you now. Focus on it and you will feel it," he said.
She did as she was told. She focus on the bond until finally she felt the slight foreign presence of Charles in the back of her mind. It was there and it was growing. It was a mate bond; it was a tel. She opened her eyes.
"You felt it," he said.
"I approve. Humans are different from us, but they are filled with potential. They are capable of great hatred and violence, but also of great compassion and kindness, and even sacrifice," he said. "For now, though, I'd keep this bond between you and your t'hy'la."
"Now I can tell you why you," he said. "The Kir'Shara is hidden in T'Karath Sanctuary. Not now, but some day in the near future, it will be necessary to retrieve in order to unite our people. You will play a role in that."
"I do not understand," she said, as she was still overwhelmed by the news about Trip and her.
"You will in time."