T'Pol has doubts about Doctor T'Marui's theories about the Lost Vulcan Colony on Beta Polaris, not to mention suspicions about the Vulcan archaeologist herself.
“I’ve never seen this dialect before,” Jon Archer said. He traced the stylized curves on the PADD’s screen with one finger. “I can already see some similarities to Old High Vulcan, but it’s as if it’s...evolved in a different direction. Kind of like how French, Spanish, and Italian are all based on Latin, but are still separate languages.”
“Yes,” agreed T’Iliya. The linguist of the Vulcan expedition tapped a control with a slender finger, then handed her PADD to Hoshi. “Unfortunately, it has deviated enough that it is a challenge to translate. These characters and these have no correspondence in Modern Vulcan.”
Hoshi nodded. “I suppose there are more samples of this script?”
“There are some in the initial survey reports, but not enough to run a comparison. It is our hope that we will find more samples when we arrive at Beta Polaris. I have forwarded my team’s analyses to your computer, Lieutenant Commander Archer, and yours as well, Captain Sato.”
He nodded, but hid his surprise well. “Thank you, Doctor T’Iliya. You’ve been quite accommodating.”
The Vulcan linguist nodded, then took her leave. As the door closed behind her, Jon mused, “The Vulcans have been pretty open about sharing their information. It’s odd, but it’s a pleasant change to be able to work together with them, as opposed to arguing about protocol.”
“I noticed T’Marui has told her people to consider our people an extension of her team. It makes transitions easier.”
“She isn’t your typical Vulcan. I can see why Doctor T’Les was concerned. If her daughter spent too much time around T’Marui, it could compromise T’Pol’s emotional control. Not exactly what a traditional Vulcan mother wants to see happen to her daughter.”
Hoshi frowned as she mulled over his words. “Jon, I know that Vulcans pride themselves on their emotional control and frown on those who can't. I have to ask, as her commanding officer...has T'Pol had any difficulties?”
He hesitated, as if debating with herself over revealing a family secret. For all Hoshi knew, he was, and it pained her to have to ask that question, but the safety and security of her crew was her first priority.
“I do know she spent the last three months with the priestesses on Mount Seleya, undergoing additional study and training. Soval and I thought she'd be there at least six months, maybe a year, so her reappearance surprised us all,” he admitted. “She had been with the Vulcan Space and Ship Operations Ministry before her mother requested her for a project.”
“I remember T'Les saying something about that,” Hoshi said slowly.”I promised T’Les that I’d watch over T’Pol, and that I’d have you and Trip help.”
“Talk to Malcolm about it too. He knows T’Pol’s family and maybe he can give you some other insights.” Jon stretched and got up from his seat. “What?”
Hoshi frowned. “What?”
“You had a funny look on your face when I mentioned Reed. Are you all right?”
“I’m all right,” she said. “He’s moved into Sickbay and he’s already making it his little fiefdom.” Her remark made Jon chuckle. “Seriously, though, he’s a competent doctor. I think it’s a big plus to have a medical officer who’s familiar with Vulcan physiology.”
“I bet Captain Hayes is envious. You snapped up some of his best people under his nose.”
She shrugged. “Matt—Captain Hayes—has had to make some readjustments. His chef is from Altair.”
“Ugh. No wonder he sounded mad in his last message.”
She blinked. “What last message?”
“Oh, just the routine ‘Hey, here’s where we are’ check-in for all vessels,” Jon replied. “Sounds like he’s having some difficulties with the Andorians. I know he’s not exactly on their good guy list after than dust-up on Trailax.”
“That was more his fault than the Andorians,” Hoshi muttered under her breath. She winced; it was unprofessional to criticize a fellow captain in front of a subordinate. Yet Jon made no indication he had heard. “We should be arriving at Beta Polaris in two days. I’d like to call a general meeting of everyone involved with the expedition. That includes T’Marui’s team, Trip’s security teams, Phlox’s engineering people, Travis’s science people. We’ll probably end up having it in a cargo bay, with the sheer numbers we’ve got.”
“Makes sense. I’ll pass the word.”
“Thanks.” Hoshi sighed and rubbed her temples when the door to her Ready Room closed behind him. I must be more tired than I thought. I’ll be glad when we get to Beta Polaris...at least we’ll be doing more than just sitting around.
T’Pol sat in T'Marui's guest quarters, her hands pressed tightly around a mug of tea, her long legs tucked under her. She listened to T'Marui’s words with an air of skepticism, but she had agreed to listen and draw her own conclusions.
She waded through the massive amounts of information that T’Marui had amassed over the decades. It was staggering, crossing several different disciplines. There were DNA comparisons between samples taken from the lost Vulcan colonies and modern Vulcans. Compilations of star charts with several projected courses of where their ships might have gone, architectural plans of the various settlements, metallurgic analyses of artifacts found and catalogued, linguistic comparisons...the sheer volume was amazing.
The more she read, the more intriguing the possibilities. She paged through another complicated report, noting the sources. T’Pol reminded herself to suspend emotion as she read. Emotion was dangerous in this kind of analysis; it clouded one’s judgement. As T’Marui has aptly demonstrated, she thought with a hint of irony. The next thing she would propose is that Humans and Vulcans were once one race, which is obviously preposterous!
“I see that you are perusing these materials in your usual thorough manner,” said T’Marui, as she returned with more Vulcan spice tea.
“It is fascinating,” T’Pol admitted, “and as a true scientist, you have hard data to support your theories. The evidence you have gathered can be interpreted in several ways and it raises several interesting possibilities. During this era of our history, Vulcan established several colonies on different planets. Circumstances were unpredictable; weather conditions, planetary geology—“
“Other ‘visiting races’,” T’Marui added. “Some of those colonies were abandoned for various reasons, T’Pol, some more obvious than others.” She touched a button and a starmap appeared within the low table. “Look here...Beta Polaris is only one of several former Vulcan colonies whose fate is unknown. Other such colonies are here...here...and here. Your mother taught you the scientific method; tell me the conclusions you can make from this.”
T’Pol gave T’Marui a look of mild exasperation, but she decided to indulge the scientist in her delusions. “There seems to be a demarcation line between Beta Polaris, her sister colonies and still-as-uncharted space.”
She touched another button, and more data appeared on the screen, next to each dead colony. Population counts, known dates of settlement and dates of the Vulcan colonists’ disappearances. “According to your sources, those sister colonies suffered the same fate as Beta Polaris. Their populations disappeared due to unknown causes.”
“I believe that our ancestors did not fall victim to a planetary disaster or a plague, T’Pol.”
She inclined her head. “Are you implying that Beta Polaris colonists were taken by hostile force?”
“It is one of many possible theories. As Commander Mayweather reminds me, it is good to 'keep all options open'.” T'Marui said. Her mouth quirked upward in a slight smile. “That young man is an amazing balance of emotion and logic. A scientific mind tempered with the enthusiasm of youth. A refreshing combination compared with my colleagues at the Science Academy.”
T'Pol raised her eyebrow at the subtle criticism of her mother and the other upstanding members of the Science Ministry. “Humanity as a species is young compared to Vulcans, Doctor.”
“So they are.” T'Marui sobered as she returned to the topic at hand. “There is much theory and speculation, and that is the reason for this expedition to Beta Polaris. I refuse to bring preconceived notions to what we might find; it is unscientific, not to mention discourteous to the memory of our ancestors.”
“An open mind is prudent in a case like this one.”
She reached over and put a hand on T’Pol’s arm. “I know of your curiosity and your...open-mindedness, T’Pol. You have evolved beyond the narrow mindsets of your mother and V’Lar and T’Pau. At least, you consider the options.”
“I have considered them,” T’Pol admitted, “but I must confess that I am still skeptical of certain aspects of your research. Perhaps, as all Vulcans, I require time to process the information. It is...somewhat overwhelming.”
T’Marui raised an eyebrow; her tone was ironic, but affectionately so, which sounded odd. “A Vulcan admitting weakness? Humility is another one of your traits, which we as a race sorely lack.”
She flushed verdant-bronze in embarrassment. “I---”
“That was meant as a compliment, not an insult, T'Pol. I would be honored if you took it as such,” T'Marui said in that mildly humorous tone. “I am one hundred and thirty-eight Vulcan years old, and so I have no patience for those who purport themselves as more intelligent than they really are.”
Again, she was unsure of how to respond to the blunt assessment of Vulcans in general. The whistle of the wall comm saved her. T'Pol went to it and pressed the button. “Lieutenant T'Pol.”
“You have exactly five minutes to report to Sickbay, Lieutenant,” came the voice of Doctor Malcolm Reed. “I assume you've received my message.”
“I did receive it and I am on my way, Doctor. T'Pol, out.” She tabbed the intercom button and said, “Forgive me, but I must go.”
T'Marui nodded in sympathy. “You should not keep Doctor Reed waiting. And T'Pol...please think on what I've shown you and what I've said.”
She nodded. “I shall, but understand that I will continue to suspend my preconceptions until we reach Beta Polaris.”
“That is all I ask.” T'Marui raised her hand in the ta'al. “We will speak later.”
T'Pol nodded again, then quickly left the scientist's quarters. With an effort, she focused her attention on her upcoming physical examination in Sickbay instead of the fate of a lost Vulcan colony.
T'Marui watched her go with a satisfied expression. What was the Earth expression...You can catch more flies with honey? T'Illiya was correct; the Humans have such colorful ways of explaining basic concepts. T'Les's daughter was indeed more susceptible to novel ideas, whether it be ship design or a historical mystery. The appeal of discovering the fate of Beta Polaris and the Vulcan Lost Colonies fired up the imaginations of the young, and T'Marui enjoyed watching that fire burn as hot as a forbidden star.
Of course, Commander Mayweather...Travis was easily convinced to assist, once she had shown him those possibilities. T'Illiya made sure that both Lieutenant Commander Jonathan Archer and Captain Hoshi Sato knew of the linguistic information. Both seemed intrigued by the oldest of known Vulcan dialects. With their backing, any discoveries T'Marui made on Beta Polaris would not be easily suppressed by the Vulcan High Command or the High Council.
It was a chess game, with so many ways to gain victory. T'Marui was a patient woman. Her efforts would be successful, and the daughter of her greatest rival would help her gain respect at last.
T'Marui settled back in the sofa, picked up PADD and went back to work.
Some pre-R/S, and the introduction to a familiar face from "Fusion". And can you catch the slight reference to "Shuttlepod One"?
Chief Engineer Phlox had managed to nudge the engines to warp 4.7 and Enterprise arrived in orbit around Beta Polaris a full shift ahead of schedule. Hoshi smiled as she activated the comm link to Engineering. “Phlox, if we keep up this habit of arriving early, people are going to expect it,” she joked. “What am I going to say to people the first time we’re late?”
“Tell them the truth,” came Phlox’s response.
She chuckled and thought, Ask a simple question, get a simple answer. Aloud she said, “Very true, Commander. Alert your shuttlepod crews to stand by.”
Hoshi turned to Travis at the science station. He looked ready to jump out of his seat out of pure excitement. “All right, Travis, it’s your show.”
“Yes, ma’am!” He touched his comm link. “Doctor T’Marui, assemble your team in Shuttle Bay One. Lieutenant Commander Tucker, Ensign T’Pol. Doctor Reed, meet in Shuttle Bay Two.”
He looked up at Jon and said, “Coming, Lieutenant Commander?”
“Coming.” Jon gave Hoshi a humorous look as they moved towards the turbolift. Hoshi swung her command chair around and grinned at them.
“Try not to get into too much trouble, gentlemen.”
As the lift doors closed, she shook her head in good-natured humor. Yes, she could have exercised command perogative and taken command of this mission, but her background in archaeology paled compared to Travis’s and T’Marui’s. Hoshi believed in assigning the best people suited to this. T’Ilya promised to send her more language samples from the surface, so at least she wouldn’t be twiddling her thumbs
Hoshi thanked T'Marui for giving her the opportunity to assist in any way she could, even from her command chair. She brought up the data on her PADD and was soon lost in the intricate swirls and indentations of Old Vulcan.
January 24, 2151
Travis Mayweather wiped sweat off his brow, but even the heat didn’t erase his satisfied grin. Doctor T’Marui’s team established a base camp just outside the main dig site; Commander Phlox’s engineering teams were currently setting up modular buildings for temporary living quarters. Lieutenant Commander Trip Tucker’s Armory teams marked out security perimeters and set up silent alarms on the site.
So far, the mission was moving smoothly, to his secret relief. He was expecting more conflict between the Vulcans and the Human crew, but he made an effort to set ground rules beforehand to bypass most of the problems. There was the inevitable grumbling, raised eyebrows, and thinly-veiled jabs at "Human illogic", but that was kept to a minimum.
"I had no idea this place would be so hot," said Trip Tucker. He also wiped his forehead with a handkerchief. "Figures that the Vulcan Colonists would pick a place similar to their home planet, but I would've thought the humidity would be a killer."
T'Pol glanced sideways at him, She, like most of the Vulcan scientists, wore a loose tunic/pants combination made of lightweight but sturdy cloth. "According to tradition, the first ships were limited in their range. The Beta Polaris Colonists might not have had a choice at the time, of where to land their ship."
Trip caught the sheen of perspiration that covered her flushed skin. He visibly swallowed hard and looked away for a moment. Travis stifled a smile; he'd noticed the Armory officer's friendly overtures toward their helmswoman, but he knew that Trip was congenial by nature and wanted everyone to feel safe. Still, the whole thing amused Travis to no end.
"So, they'd had to adapt, just like anyone else in their situation." Trip nodded at the expanse of stone foundations that dotted the landscape for kilometers around. "Looks like they did a good job at making do."
"At makin' the best at what was available at the time. Sorry, Human expression."
"Ah, I understand." T'Pol consulted her PADD, then nodded at Travis. "I believe the preliminary preparations for the research camp are complete, Commander. It is only a matter of time before the excavation team becomes comfortable with a routine."
Travis nodded back and sighed wistfully. "I know our orders were to simply assist the archaeological team in getting themselves established, but it would be nice to spend some time in some scientific work, too. You know, help piece together some part of Vulcan history."
T'Pol raised her eyebrow and said, "You seem quite taken with archaeology, for someone who has spent his childhood in space and is specialized in astronomy and astrophysics. You were part of a dig with Captain Hayes's previous crew, were you not?"
"Yeah, I know it seems contradictory, but it's the allure of the mystery, Lieutenant. Missing Colonists, lost civilizations...it's like telling ghost stories, about what could have happened long ago."
"Stories of supposed metaphysical beings is hardly rational, Commander, and speculation without tangible proof---"
Travis chuckled and shook his head. "---is illogical, and hardly the mark of a serious scientist. I'm aware of that, T'Pol, but using your imagination could spark associations that you might not have considered before."
Trip snorted in good-natured humor. "You mean to tell me Vulcans don't believe in ghosts?"
She hesitated for a moment, then replied, "Not per se, Lieutenant Commander, but Vulcans do have their own sense of...mysticism."
Travis's communicator went off before he could ask further questions and he flipped it open. "Mayweather. Go ahead."
Hoshi Sato's voice rang through, clear as a bell. "Travis, we've gotten a change of orders from Admiral Forrest at Starfleet Command."
"Again? Should I recall our science and engineering teams?"
"Actually, you all should stay where you are. High Minister V'Lar has requested that we stay on Beta Polaris to, and I quote, 'provide scientific and logistical support to the excavation teams in any capacity needed.' It seems that Doctor T'Marui specifically petitioned the Vulcan Science Academy and Starfleet Command to retain our services."
T'Pol raised her eyebrows at the news. "My mother allowed this?"
"It seems that Doctor T'Les has acknowledged Doctor T"Marui's argument that this is an important time for all of Vulcan, and the possible discoveries might change history's perceptions of the Lost Colonists in general. She has accepted Minister's V'Lar decision."
Trip gave her a strange look, but only said, "So we're stayin' put for the time bein', then. Lemme draw up a Security rotation for the archeological teams here."
Hoshi sounded unsurprised at his offer. "Go ahead, Trip, and make sure you give me a copy. Travis, talk with T'Marui about what she's planning to do in the next week or so, and draw up lists of your scientific teams. Lieutenant T'Pol?"
"We'll need to ferry additional supplies to the base camp. Take Shuttlepod Two and return to Enterpriseso we can reload, then you'll be flying back to the surface. Take Ensign Milliard and Lieutenant Drake with you."
"Any more questions or concerns, gentlemen?"
Travis glanced at Trip, who shook his head. "None at the moment, Captain."
"Check back in three hours, Travis. Enterprise, out."
"Will do, Captain. Mayweather, out." Travis flipped his communicator closed, then said, "All right, let's get moving. I'll talk with Doctor T"Marui."
Trip grinned at his enthusiasm. "Go on, Commander. We'll be okay here."
T'Pol watched Travis as the science officer went off in search of T'Marui. "He reminds me of a child who has suddenly been given the means to achieve a lifelong dream."
He chuckled and commented, "Travis? Yeah, he has."
Night fell on the base camp, and Travis, T'Pol, Malcolm and Trip had elected to spend the night on Beta Polaris. Malcolm had insisted on setting up an adequate infirmary tent, with Doctor T'Marui's approval. The more he worked alongside T'Marui and her team, the more mystified he felt at their unusual---but welcome---conciliatory natures.
“Doctor Reed, do you require any more assistance?”
He stifled a smile as Doctor Kov entered the tent. Kov's dark hazel eyes brimmed with enthusiasm unlike your typical Vulcan's, barely kept in check. Strictly speaking, Kov was Malcolm's senior by several decades, but in terms of experience, Malcolm was the elder. He patiently answered Kov's incessant questions about Human physiology, including the ones deemed rather private.
“I believe we are finished here for now, Kov. Thank you.”
Kov inclined his head and replied, “I am the one honored, Doctor Reed. You and Lieutenant Commander Tucker are the only two who tolerate my curiosity.” His eyes sparkled with the humor that didn't touch his lips. “Doctor T'Marui says it is a good trait to have, within limits.”
“She is correct, though out of curiosity, comes innovation.”
“True. I should remember that.” Kov raised an eyebrow as voices floated past them. “Is that your captain? Her vocal inflections are quite distinctive.”
Malcolm smiled and shrugged. “Distinctive.”
“I should rejoin the others at the fire pit. It does get rather cool here on Beta Polaris.”
“Go on, lad. I'll be there momentarily.”
Kov bowed his head and left the tent. Malcolm watched him go with a raised eyebrow; Kov was remarkably perceptive, and he knew something was nagging at Malcolm, but it was probably not what Kov thought.
It is as if T'Marui, Kov and the others have found some sort of balance between logic and emotion that has eluded most Vulcans, even the priestesses of Mount Seleya. For some reason, the thought bothered Malcolm. He had long kept the company of Vulcans such as V'Lar, T'Les and Soval, who frowned upon overt shows of emotion. His own reserved British nature meshed well with their restraint. Yet T'Marui's steady guidance of her team was an odd contrast.
T'Marui's demeanor reminded him of something he'd heard about a while ago. Malcolm couldn't remember what it was, but it was just barely beyond his recall. He knew it was important that he remembered it, and his mind kept worrying it like a loose tooth...
“Are you ill, Doctor?”
He managed a slight smile at T'Marui, who stood just inside the entrance to the medical tent. “Just a bit weary, Doctor T’Marui. It has been a busy day.”
“But rather productive. I appreciate your dedication to the health of all involved with the expedition, Doctor Reed.”
“I live to serve,” he said automatically.
“Kov has told me about how you have worked tirelessly all day.” Her eyes were shadowed with concern. “And I noticed you haven't answered my question.”
“I thought I had answered it adequately,” Malcolm replied as he put away the last of the medical supplies.
Her mouth quirked. “Your time on Vulcan has affected your sense of humor.”
“Oh?” He turned to her with a raised eyebrow. And she’s concerned about my sense of humor?
“You sound more like a Vulcan than a Human, Doctor.”
He shrugged. “I spent several years at the Medical Academy, so I suppose some of your...humor has rubbed off on me.” He chuckled and shrugged. “Make no mistake, though, I am wholly Human.”
T’Marui nodded and looked him from head to toe. “Yes. That much is obvious.”
For some reason, that comment made him distinctly uncomfortable. Or was it because of her intense scrutiny? He avoided looking at her, for his instincts were warning him against it. He thought he heard her voice in his mind: Look at me, Malcolm. Look at me. You may be Human, but your heart is Vulcan. Would you like to know the true face of a Vulcan, not the facade? Look at me...
“Hey, you finished hiding in there, Doc? Kov's asked Travis to regale us with one of his ghost stories and...oh, Doctor T'Marui. Didn't know you were in here.”
Malcolm blinked, his mind suddenly fuzzy. He shook his head and managed to tear his attention away from T'Marui. “I am not hiding, Lieutenant Commander Tucker.”
Trip snorted. “Yeah, right. C'mon, I'm declarin' you off duty right now and hauling your ass out to where you can be a little social. Since Travis's a bit busy, I'm the defacto morale officer.”
He sighed and rolled his eyes, careful not to betray his utter relief at the interruption. “So, you've taken it upon yourself to torture us with your treacly optimism, Lieutenant Commander?”
“It's Trip, and my duty is to protect you from your dour pessimism, Doc.” Trip's cheery retort was marred by a slight flicker of his eyes towards T'Marui. He'd picked up on Malcolm's reluctance to be alone in the scientist's presence. Malcolm only nodded slightly as he busied himself with removing his lab coat over his tan Starfleet uniform.
“Then I shouldn't complicate that self-imposed duty, should I?” Malcolm shot back, feigning a dry humor he didn't feel. “Very well...Trip.”
“Got hope for you yet, Doc.”
Malcolm snorted as he followed Trip out to the circle around a fire pit in the middle of the base camp. Malcolm's sharp hearing picked up T'Marui's quiet tone as she said, “Thank you, Lieutenant Commander Tucker.”
Trip asked, “What for?”
“Looking after Doctor Reed. He cares for others' welfare more than his own.”
“Part of my job, ma'am. And the Doc's like that with everybody.”
“Still, you have my gratitude.”
“Like I said, the Doc's an important part of the crew and it's my job to make sure he's all right.”
“Indeed, Lieutenant Commander...Trip.”
Hearing the familiar nickname from T'Marui bothered Malcolm for some reason, but he didn't have the time to think about it, for they'd reached the circle and Travis was in the middle of a ghost story. The commander nodded at Malcolm, then went on with his tale. To Malcolm's surprise, he saw Hoshi Sato sitting between T'Pol and Jon Archer. She smiled at him as T'Pol made room for him to sit.
“I wanted to hear the status reports directly from the sources,” Hoshi explained in a low tone, “and I was curious to see the ruins for myself. They are fascinating.”
“Yes,” Malcolm agreed. “Everyone is eager to begin the excavation tomorrow morning.”
Hoshi chuckled and agreed, “Yes. You couldn't tear Travis and Jon away with a set of crowbars.” She sobered as she watched T'Marui settle on T'Pol's far side. The two Vulcans began a whispered conversation that Malcolm couldn't hear, but apparently Hoshi could. He recalled from the captain's medical file that she possessed sensitive hearing, which had its advantages and disadvantages.
Hoshi regarded the pair with a speculative eye. Then she told him in a barely audible tone, “I've already asked Trip this, and I'll ask you now. Keep an eye on T'Pol, especially when she's around T'Marui. I don't believe T'Marui will harm her, but I have a funny feeling about her.”
“Doctor T'Les expressed similar concerns about T'Marui, Captain.” Malcolm felt oddly relieved that Hoshi shared his suspicions. “Jonathan and I assured T'Les that no harm will befall her daughter as long as we keep watch.”
“Is T'Pol aware of this...security watch?”
“I believe she is. Lieutenant Commander Tucker is hardly subtle.”
Her mouth twitched upward in grim humor and agreed, “Trip can be subtle if he wants. A little misdirection can achieve a lot, and Trip knows how to do that.”
Malcolm raised his eyebrows. It was hard to reconcile the affable Southerner with the stealthy touch of a Security and Tactical officer, but he realized that was the image Trip wanted to project. All the more that the enemy will underestimate him. Quite ingenious.
“You have my word that T'Pol will not be left alone. One of us will always be on guard.”
She gave him a slight nod and said, “Thank you, Malcolm.” Hoshi fell silent as Travis reached a high point in his tale, and Trip provided musical ambience with what looked like an old-fashioned harmonica. The whole effect was rather absurd, but Kov, T'Marui and the others were riveted to the spot.
He regarded Hoshi's profile, backlit by the flames of the firepit. A voice in the back of his head wanted to be heard, but he firmly contained it. Nevertheless, he agreed with one particular thought.
Captain Hayes was a bloody fool.