Still staring at the tablet in her hands, Sub Commander T’Plau was unsure of how to proceed with the news she had just received. Curious as ever, she wanted to understand the thinking behind the Vulcan High Command’s decision to promote her and remove her from Challenger. She had only been with the ship for a short amount of time, less than a year in fact. She was the first Vulcan to serve in the new Coalition office exchange programme, in fact she was the highest ranking official in the programme. With this new assignment she would no longer carry on in this capacity. Part of her was interested to see what her new promotion would entail while another part of her considered the ramifications of leaving Challenger during a time of war. Even though loyalty was an emotional state of mind, she had found herself becoming used to the crew of Challenger. She respected Captain Burton’s leadership and found him to be very reasonable and in some cases logical. He and his crew had become a recent constant in her life and she found her daily interactions to be fascinating. The work was also rewarding, not in the sense she took pride in her work but she knew that her impact was making a difference. One where she was advancing the interactions between Vulcans and Humans as well as being a symbol that the Vulcan people took the new alliance seriously. That last section made her reconsider if her government’s position on the Coalition of Planets had changed. Her thought process on the whole matter made it difficult for her to come to a logical decision with what she would do next. The investigator within her forced her to conclude she required more data, more evidence, to help resolve this matter.
Walking across her bedroom, she sat down at her desk and activated her computer terminal. She knew there was only one person on Earth who would be able to provide further clarity on the issue. After inputting her username and security clearance, she made a request to open a secure channel to the Vulcan Embassy in Sausalito. Once the call had been authorised she was soon put through to an assistant who booked her in to meet with Ambassador Soron in two hours’ time. She would speak to the Vulcan ambassador to Earth to understand what was happening. As the highest ranking government official, as well as someone she had worked with before, T’Plau felt that visiting Soron would benefit her greatly. However, his assistant had said that she would need to travel to Sausalito to meet with the ambassador in person. Knowing that the two-hour gap between now and seeing the ambassador would be sufficient time for travel, she agreed to see him. She believed she had no choice in the matter either. Closing the channel, T’Plau sorted out her belongings and ensured that everything was packed just in case she was not able to return to the ship. If Soron felt that she needed to accept her promotion on the spot, she would not have the opportunity to return to Challenger and she was not going to accept her private belongings being touched by one of the stewards to pack.
The entire process of packing her stuff away was not stimulating. Once she had finished she gazed around the room. It now appeared almost naked and extremely sterile. Being used to this place where she had rested in as well as worked in was something she found difficult to suppress. Knowing that she may not return to the ship, she found herself wondering if she should contact the captain now or later. Eventually she chose the latter, as she had summarised earlier she needed to know more.
Vulcan Embassy, Sausalito, California, United States of America, Earth
It was late in the evening and Sub Commander T’Plau found herself walking the dark streets of Sausalito. Her destination was just around the corner. Wrapping her field jacket around her, she had begun to consider whether she actually needed to wear it or not due to the warm evening air. Her shuttlepod ride down to the planet from the Obama Repair Facility had gone without incident and she had taken a small ground vehicle journey from Starfleet Headquarters across San Francisco and into Sausalito. The coach drive, like her shuttle trip, was uneventful, with her only encountering twelve other individuals – besides one being a Denobulan the others were all Humans. Following on from when she had arrived at the last stop for the coach, she had departed the long vehicle and had walked the rest of her journey.
Approaching the main entrance to the embassy, she stepped in and showed the guard at the post her clearance. Once he had confirmed her identity through the computer terminal and her appointment with the ambassador, the Vulcan officer (a Sub Lieutenant) gave her entrance. The Vulcan Embassy (sometimes referred to as the Vulcan Compound) was the largest of the diplomatic missions on Earth. Most Vulcans who travelled to Earth took residence within the walls of the consulate. It took up a large, wide space and was of Vulcan design on the outside as well as on the inside. The familiar different shades of brown and dark reds were used on the buildings, just like the government buildings on Vulcan. The tall arching architectural designs were similar to those used back on Vulcan too. Between buildings were a range of gardens with water fountains, streams and plants native to Vulcan as well as Earth. The whole scene was tranquil and peaceful.
T’Plau was escorted by another security officer with the rank of Uhlan towards the Ambassador’s residence. The Ambassador’s home was the largest building in the centre of the compound. It was Vulcan in design and not only contained the household of the Vulcan representative, but the offices for his staff too. Entering the west-wing of the building, T’Plau was marched down a corridor before once again being taken outside and past several doors. The outdoor corridor had a pathed pavement which had a number of planted pots on it while other planets hung from the walls as well as columns. Eventually they reached the end of the building and a glass balcony-like door was opened for her. Stepping into the room that was on the other side, she found herself in the circular shaped office that the ambassador used on a day to day basis. The office was decorated in deep maroon and purple colours. It was laid out in the same design used by all high-ranking government officials. The logical design was functional and was similar to the office used by the First Minister of the Vulcan Confederacy. A number of artefacts, including miniature statues of Surak and the IDIC emblem were dotted around the room. In the centre of the room was a large oval shaped computer console that would be used by the Ambassador when he conducted meetings with his staff and other visitors. The view of the compound gardens could be seen through three large oval shaped windows along one wall too. It was an impressive room, one that could only be rivalled by the office that the President of Earth had.
Kneeling on top of a dark red cushion (which was on a huge golden and dark purple rug) was Ambassador Soron. A number of candles were lit and dotted around the room while the diplomat was deep in meditation. With his eyes still closed, Soron spoke up, “Join me T’Plau.” He instructed.
T’Plau welcomed the opportunity to meditate, an exercise she had yet to do since the ship had returned to Earth. She knelt down and almost mirrored the same pose the ambassador took. Taking a number of deep breaths, she found herself beginning to relax and feeling calmer. Her suppression of emotions became stronger and she felt a sense of being refreshed. Opening her eyes, she was faced with Ambassador Soron with his own friendly eyes opened. Soron had been in the diplomatic corps for most of his life. Achieving the position of Ambassador to the United Earth Commonwealth had happened after the civilian government of Vulcan had been re-established. The Vulcan Council had been reinstated as the legitimate ruling body of the Confederacy after the revelation of Surak’s teaching had been shared, which in turn forced the collapse of the V’Las administration and the High Command’s strong grip on the Vulcan nation. T’Pau had been elevated to the position of First Minister of the Vulcan Council and Administrator of the High Command. As a result of the change in leadership, T’Pau had disbanded a majority of the High Command’s influence on governmental departments and agencies. It had caused a lot of issues in the beginning, but she had installed a new civilian minister in key positions, one of them being Soran’s predecessor, Soval. He had been made the Foreign Minister by T’Pau after he had been instrumental in maintaining strong relations with Earth and assisting in the prevention of war with the Andorian Empire. Now Soval, who had become well-known in the coalition, was focussed on maintaining good relations on behalf of the Vulcan people with not just Earth, but Andoria and Tellar as well as many other words that were considered trading partners, friends and allies. As a result of this, Soval had suggested that his chief of staff, Soron, who had a range of diplomatic experience and skill, be appointed as his successor as the Ambassador to Earth. Soron’s elevation had been quickly agreed by the Vulcan Council and now Soron continued where Soval had left off.
His silver coloured hair and faded blue eyes made him a man that many felt was approachable, fair and open-minded. His actions had also reflected those qualities, but T’Plau also knew that Soron was a formidable diplomat and negotiator. He had worked under Skon, the first Earth Ambassador and was once married to Ambassador V’Las before she had separated from him when she had taken up the position on Mazer as the Vulcan Ambassador. Since it was revealed that her posting to Mazer had been to help remove corrupted officials, there had been no confirmation of V’Las and Soron resuming their marriage. Many had speculated that she had separated from him to avoid him sharing the burden if her activities had been deemed ‘criminal’ (which by some on Mazer they had been).
“Tea?” He offered her, indicating to a table by the side that had a steaming pot on it with two cups on it.
“Please.” T’Plau replied as she stood up after he did.
Soron went over and poured the Vulcan spice tea and handed one of the cups to T’Plau once he was finished. “I assume you are here because of your promotion?”
T’Plau nodded after taking a sip of the tea. “I am, I was hoping you may be able to share with me why I am being removed from Challenger?”
Soron offered her to join him on the small cushioned stools that were dotted around his office. As he sat down he answered her. “I was as perplexed with the orders and understanding them at first myself, however from what I was told your promotion was inevitable.”
Pushing a strand of her auburn-brown hair back behind her pointed left ear, T’Plau remained perplexed with his answer. “I do not follow your logic Ambassador. I was informed my placement on Challenger would be a long-term one. This is now not going to be the case.”
Soron’s left eyebrow raised. “Regrettably the intention of such an assignment is now incompatible with the current political situation the Vulcan Confederacy finds itself in.”
Almost mimicking his reaction, T’Plau raised her own eyebrow. “Please elaborate Ambassador, as I fail to see why removing me from Challenger has anything to do with the war.”
Following him taking another sip of his tea, Ambassador Soron expanded on his comments. “It is quite clear that your duties on Challenger are now incompatible with the interests of the Vulcan Confederacy and your services are required elsewhere.” Soron paused as he considered her reaction further. “I must say I am quite alarmed that you do not see this as a reward for your years of hard work. You are to be made a commander of a brand-new starship.”
T’Plau placed her tea down. “I am not ungrateful for the new opportunities that are being passed my way, however I am fully curious as to why our government is removing one of its senior officers from a programme it engaged in good faith with our new allies only a few months ago.”
“Our new allies do not require us to supervise them T’Plau. They do not require our assistance in being part of their crews.” Soron remarked.
Curious with the ambassador’s words, T’Plau quickly argued back in her soothing calm tone. “I do not believe the exchange programme was meant to be a way of us supervising our allies? It was to share knowledge, experience and further foster relationships between our peoples. What message does it send to them, especially Earth who has worked extremely hard to ensure that an alliance can happen between our people, the Andorians and the Tellarites?”
Taking a breath, Soron reacted in his calm tone. “T’Plau, I think you are analysing this situation into too much detail and finding results that are non-existent. Whatever way you look at it, you will be promoted and be giving command of your own ship.” Soron placed his cup of tea down and stood up. “I must return to my quarters to finish a reply to a respondent my son had sent before I retire for the evening. I also have a meeting in the morning with the Andorian ambassador.”
T’Plau, unsatisfied with the lack of answers she had been given, stood up too. “Thank you for your time Ambassador Soron.” She bowed to him in gratitude.
Soron raised his left hand and displayed the Vulcan V-shaped gesture towards her. “Live long and prosper T’Plau.”
Repeating the motion back to him, T’Plau began to walk towards the door she had entered in from. Before she reached the exit, Soron called back for her. “T’Plau, you and I have a long-standing relationship since what you did for saving Sestrul from the Andorians. So when I say accept this promotion and move on with your assignment, please heed my advice. You will do a great deal of service to our allies if you did.”
Mentioning his son, one of the missing agents from the Security Directorate that she had rescued over twenty years ago, was an unusual comment for the ambassador. Back then Soron was only an envoy under Ambassador Solkar, the first Ambassador of Vulcan to Earth. Soron had been eternally grateful to T’Plau for finding his missing son and bringing him back to his family. Soron had said he would never forget the debt he and his wife owed her. Leaving the ambassador’s office, she had more questions that she could not answer and felt there was only one place she could go to find them: home to Vulcan.
As she walked out of the Vulcan compound and past its security checkpoint, T’Plau was startled to see one person she would never have predicted would be visiting Earth. Muroc – her husband. There he was walking towards the entrance of the embassy with his hands held tightly behind his back.
“Muroc,” She said, her tone of curiosity was evident as she greeted him. Wanting to know what he was doing here and what were his intentions, she approached her husband in a slower fashion.
“It is agreeable to see you, my wife.” Muroc said in his deep masculine voice as he extended his two fingers towards her. Her husband was a tall and muscular man. Sharp blue eyes glinted from his short, cropped black hair. He stood before her wearing his metallic-brown uniform. On the high collar was his rank pip of captain. Running from the collar from the left shoulder across the chest was a wedge-shaped accent. The entire ensemble was supported by a belt with an elaborate buckle showing the Vulcan IDIC emblem. Muroc had been an officer for years, ever since he was old enough to join the military. As both of them had been career officers, neither of them had considered starting a family, something which was not approved of by either of their parents. Nevertheless, both of them were happy with their arrangement with their marriage. It worked for them.
Returning the gesture, she touched her two fingers with his. “What is the purpose of your visit here?” She enquired.
“I am here to see you.” He said bluntly. “It has been many years since we last saw each other.” He gestured for them to walk away from the compound and down the street.
Agreeing to his suggestion, T’Plau followed her husband’s idea and walked side by side with him. “I was not under the impression you started your pon farr?” She countered with. If anyone else had heard the conversation, one would have considered her question carried a hint of sarcasm in it.
“That is not for another year T’Plau.” He answered back as they continued their walk. “As you fully know.” He added.
“Yes of course, how could I make such a mistake.” She responded as she grasped her hands behind her back. “So what are your intentions here on Earth?”
“I was attending a meeting at Starfleet Command when the T’Shear was sent to transfer supplies to the Sakra. They will return in fifteen days.” Muroc answered. “I was informed of the Challenger’s return to Earth shortly after my meeting had concluded. When I tried to call you on Challenger, I was informed by your deputy communications officer you were no longer on board and were heading to the Vulcan Embassy.”
As it was pretty late, the Vulcan couple were not interrupted by many passers-by as they walked along the sidewalk. Every two point five metres was an overhead lamp that lit their path. The noise of city life was low too which aided in either of them being distracted by their surroundings.
“I have yet to eat this evening, would you join me for a meal?” T’Plau offered as they went down a long road.
“That would suffice my wife.” Muroc replied after considering her proposal.
T’Plau suggested they try a nearby Earth restaurant that she had heard from her crewmates in providing quality food that would be acceptable for Vulcans. After walking for almost twenty minutes and taking a shuttlebus across the city, they soon found themselves sitting in a small quiet restaurant. Based on what she had eaten on Challenger, she ordered two plates of satay sweet potato curry, requesting for the chef to use mild spices in it.
“Your palette has expanded since we last had a meal. I did not realise it now included a range of Earth cuisines.” Muroc witnessed. “Has your time on Challenger widened any other habits or interests of yours?”
T’Plau considered her answer after the waiter returned with a plate of two slices of plain naan-bread. She used her knife and fork to take her slice, placed it on her side dish and cut off a piece for herself. “I have found myself intrigued in reading some of Earth’s classical literature and I have attempted to understand my superior officer’s interest in certain sports. Besides that, my work has kept me extremely busy.”
“Fascinating.” Muroc stated as he copied her actions with the naan-bread. He raised his eyebrow after taking a bite off the bread and appeared to accept it as edible. “A curious meal.”
“This range of food is known as Indian cuisine; it is one of Captain Burton’s favourites. Chef Lawson has an Indian meal on her menu once a week. The aromas can be quite pungent, but the tastes and textures are fascinating.” T’Plau shared. “Are you aware of my promotion and new assignment?”
“To command the Jarok?” He replied in between mouthfuls. Nodding he elaborated more once he had taken a sip of water from the glass in front of him. “Captain Ly’ta had relayed the information to me after she had been requested to present her thoughts on the matter.”
Ly’ta had served as one of T’Plau’s previous commanding officers before she joined Challenger. Knowing that Ly’ta had confidence to support her promotion was another interesting notion for T’Plau. “And what are your thoughts on the issue?”
“I did not realise advancement in rank was an issue to be concerned about T’Plau?” Muroc spoke back. “I do not understand why you appear dissatisfied with it too?”
“The only dissatisfaction I am aware of is not knowing how well I have performed in my current posting and why we are no long faithfully engaging in a programme with our allies we fully supported.” She returned as the waiter arrived with their main course. As soon as they had placed their dinners down and had left the table, T’Plau continued the conversation. “I object to the transfer when I have not been in my current posting for a sufficient amount of time. I cannot understand the logic behind the reason for my promotion. If my services would have been assessed as inadequate then I would have suspected I would have been removed sooner, instead I am given a promotion. I must then assume that my work is of a good standard to warrant such a position but the longevity of that work now quickly comes to a close. Do you understand the puzzling position I find myself in?”
“You sound as if your logic is stuck in a never-ending cycle.” Muroc observed. “Nevertheless, commanding a brand-new ship is worthy of your talents, skills and experience T’Plau. I recommend you take what you have learnt from your stay on Challenger and apply it to your new command. You may even be able to request that members of your new crew are part of the exchange program as well.”
“Intriguing,” T’Plau said after finishing her mouthful of rice. “I never considered that notion.”
“Along with that, I do not believe you understand the full situation of what has happened since the declaration of war.” Muroc stated.
“Please explain yourself.” T’Plau requested with intrigue.
Muroc took a breath as he went on to share with her how the Vulcan fleet was vulnerable to the weapon the Romulans had been using to take control of foreign ships’ computers. It was the same weapon that was used on the Carreons and it would appear that Vulcan technology was the most susceptible to it. First Minister T’Plau had created an alternative strategy which re-arranged a bulk of their off-world assets away from the frontlines. Once he had finished, T’Plau had considered that she was one of these off-world assets that was being moved too.
For the rest of the evening, T’Plau and Muroc changed the topic of their conversations and continued their exchange of ideas on other matters as well as updating each other with news regarding their family members. Nevertheless, in-between it all T’Plau was pondering how she would manage informing Captain Burton and her current crewmates of her change in circumstances. Alongside this her original plan to return to Vulcan was still strong in her thoughts. She had a sense of determination to return home to face this issue, straight on.