The Vulcan – Episode 1: The Needs of the Many

My intent in writing The Vulcan is to take the Star Trek fans further outside of the Federation and into the 23rd century world that exists beyond the influence of Star Fleet. It is my intent to explore more philosophical questions of personal and social ethics using the Calculating Logic of the Vulcan perspective in conjunction with the Earthling point of view. I have written The Vulcan in present tense because I have an interest in converting the story to a screen play and thought the present tense action would translate more easily.

I am not well versed in the latest developments of the Star Trek World, having grown up on the Original Series in the sixties. Any help with the technical details and maintaining accuracy to the established cannon would be appreciated. I have taken a great deal of liberty with Vulcan history and society. I hope it doesn’t conflict, but rather, adds to the depth and breadth of the Star Trek Universe.

I hope you enjoy my story.

-Will

Episode 1 – The Needs of the Many
________
Stardate 3-3727.1

A SURPRISE ATTACK
The sound of an explosion thunders through the reception hall standing Sam’s short red hair up on the back of her neck. She crouches behind a serving counter. Her sense of fear is heightened by the thought that they are trapped in a glorified box 560 kilometers above the planet’s surface.

“The construction bays. With me!”, shouts her Vulcan childhood friend S’Talla, as she rises from cover and moves quickly, but calmly to the doors leading to the working areas of the Astroways Space Construction Station.

The room is bathed in an alien green light with flashing yellow strobes over the doorways. An alarm throbs, along with an electronic voice announcing, “The station is under external threat. Report to your assigned defensive stations. If you have not been assigned defensive stations, seek shelter or assignment from the nearest officer. The station is under external threat. Report to your assigned defensive stations. If you have not been assigned…”

Sam, despite her fear, couldn’t help but feel the excitement from the attack. “Romulans.” , she whispers speculatively to herself as she moves to follow S’Talla. “Where are you going S’Talla? The reception hall is a designated disaster shelter. We should stay here.” she calls to her Vulcan friend.

“Ms. Kelly is correct.” Adds Lieutenant Stolk, their Vulcan guide who is crouched behind a nearby column. He makes no other effort to intervene.

S’Talla steps through the door into the yellow lighted corridor. Her touring companions, Skyvik and the Bynar couple join her. The group look completely anachronistic, in the modern setting, dressed in their traditional temple robes. Even the Bynars wear Vulcan temple travel habits, denoting their membership in the Order of Reason and Logic.

S’Talla looks back to her friend, as Sam steps with her through the double doors. “You should stay here, Sam. I have something to do. It will be ok, but there is no time anymore to explain. This attack is…, sooner than expected.” The tall, unusually blue skinned Vulcan woman turns and walks briskly, but with considerable poise, hands pressed together before her in a position similar to hands loosely held together in prayer, down the hallway towards the construction bays.

Sam rolls her eyes at the absurdity of Vulcan propriety and follows the small group. “You’re just visitors, here as a diplomatic reception. We should all wait in the lounge until they tell us it’s safe.”

A number of Vulcan soldiers run by with weapons. Sam can’t remember the last time she saw a Vulcan adult run except during the rare sports competitions. She recalls briefly, early play with S’Talla, when they were children together.

***
CHILDHOOD FRIENDS
Sam and S’Talla, both 10 years old, were playing in the temple garden where S’Talla lived while attending school and training in the Vulcan monastic order. In contrast to Sam’s long red hair, young S’Talla’s head was shaved smooth, denoting her junior membership into the Order.

“Race you to that tree, S’Talla!” shouted young Sam and took off as fast as she could run to the tree and tagged it.

“Why did you do that?” S’Talla called.

“It’s fun. I like to run. I’m very fast.” Sam hollered back. “Don’t you ever like to run? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Vulcan run. CAN Vulcans EVEN run?” she teased playfully.

“Of course we can run. It is just not logical to run when you do not need to.” replied the Vulcan girl while walking towards the tree. Sam was walking back to meet her friend.

As S’Talla met Sam halfway, S’Talla burst into a sprint, taking Sam by surprise, and beat her Earth friend back to the tree.

Just as she got to the tree S’Talla called back, “Can you do this?” and she leapt into the air and spun around to execute a flying spinning back kick to the trunk.

She landed on her feet, crossed her arms and raised one questioning eyebrow at Sam.

“I don’t think so.” was Sam’s reply, arriving breathlessly.

In a matter of fact voice, but with a smile on her young Vulcan face, S’Talla said, “It appears, then I have beaten you, Samantha.”

Master Sparoe, a somber Vulcan monk, walked by, fingers laced in front of him, thumbs resting together pad-to-pad in a posture of calm control. He frowned sternly at young S’Talla’s impropriety and shook his head at her. “Logic dictates that knowing ourselves, we have no need to impress others. Therefore, boasting to others is the mark of an unsure mind.” he quipped.

***
ACTIVISTS ENCOUNTER ROMULANS
The five arrive at a set of security doors with two armed guards taking a defensive position ready to repel attack. A small group of Vulcans, in space combat flight suits, file through at a run.

S’Talla leads her group up to the two security guards and says, “We are the Vulcan Coalition For Peace Reform, and we are here for the Yon-Ha’gel project, the V5-Beta. If interstellar peace means anything to you, let us pass.”

Sam can hardly believe what she just heard. “How do you know the project code name?

“Reform of what?”

The guards look at each other to see if the other knows what S’Talla is talking about. “We can not let you pass. This area is restricted and we are under attack.”

The guards turn to Sam, “Are they with you, Ms. Kelly?”

A very large explosion from inside the construction bay throws everyone to the floor. S’Talla, however, is able to keep her feet.

“We go!” She commands simply.

Skyvik stands and moves through the door. Sam helps the Bynars to their feet while the soldiers pick themselves up. “Yes… yes, they’re with me.” Sam answers the soldiers question with an apologetic smile and runs to catch up with the fast moving group.

The guards protest, “You can not go in there!”

S’Talla calls over her shoulder without looking back. “If Vulcan continues to disregard its treaties, this will be only the beginning. We are here to stop a war.”

A small Romulan landing party just disembarking from a raptor landing shuttle is there to greet them. The shuttle is settled right next to the boarding tunnel to the V5-Beta. The bay doors are blasted in and the group of four pilots, who passed moments earlier, are strewn, dead, across the deck. The dark grey hull of the V5-Beta can be seen through the hole behind the boarding shuttle.

While Sam stops, appalled, S’Talla and Skyvik don’t even slow. The two Bynars appear more nervous, but follow S’Talla’s lead, regardless. Sam rolls her eyes again and follows, as well. She recalls the tour she had just accompanied S’Talla and her companions on, through the space station.

***
LOOKING BACK TO S’TALLA’S ARRIVAL
Sam waited, along with the station commander, to greet the arriving dignitaries from Vulcan’s surface. They waited in the transporter reception lobby, a young Vulcan technician at the transporter console behind them, an executive officer stood on the Commander’s opposite side.

“Thank you commander, for allowing me to join you. When I learned who was in the envoy to meet with the Romulans for this first reunification talk, I got very excited.”

The commander raised one eyebrow, “Indeed.”

Sam, wearing civilian clothes while off-duty, went on to explain in a faint Irish brogue, “I have known S’Talla since we were children running through the temple gardens where she grew up. We were very close. So, thank you for accommodating me.”

Commander Spaech asked, “You have been on Vulcan since you were a child?”

Sam nodded, “except for a few holiday visits to our family home in Ireland, back on Earth, and my bachelor’s program in Dublin. My master’s and my doctorate were both completed here on Vulcan.

“My parents were assigned here when I was 9 years old. I met S’Talla while we were touring the Temple of Pure Reason. I attended Primary at the Temple, but S’Talla grew up there.” Sam shrugged, “And now she is at the Temple of Perfect Logic.”

the Commander explained, “They are all part of the Sacred Order of Logic and Reason.

“I am certain your friend will appreciate seeing you again.” Commander Spaech replied just as six people, arranged three and three, beamed onto the transporter platform.

The party consisted of a robust older Vulcan male, greenish/brown skin, short grey hair with square bangs, holding himself with a regal bearing, wearing a military tunic. He was standing to the right of a very slim young green-skinned male with a closely shaved bowl-cut hairstyle. To his right stood a tall statuesque female Vulcan with unusual light bluish hues to her skin, piercing blue eyes and blue/black hair bound up in a tight braided bun on the back of her head. Behind was an unusually tall, powerfully built, older male Vulcan, with sun darkened green skin and short military-cut silver hair. Two smaller humanoids with large bald heads and a purplish skin tone, marking them as Bynars filled out the back row.

“Greetings, Admiral Syjak.” Commander Spaech raised his hand in the Vulcan greeting.

“Commander Spaech?” Syjak, raised his hand in the same ‘V’ at the commander’s affirming nod, “Live long and prosper.

“This is my assistant, Commander Skaul,” he indicated, with a nod to his left, the young Vulcan male in a plain dark grey tunic. Syjak turned to the largest member of the group and continued, “Commander Skyvik of the Vulcan Defense Ministry,” the Admiral turned to his right, “and these are representatives from the ‘Temple of Perfect Logic’, Sister S’Talla, and Ya and Ne, of the Counsel’s Cultural Augmentation Program. They too are members of the Temple, but are here to act as third party arbitrators.”

“May you live long and prosper, sisters and brothers of Logic.” Commander Spaech gave a shallow formal bow.

“The Romulan representatives have not yet arrived. I have arranged a station tour for you, until then.

“Please, follow me, if you will.”

Admiral Syjak told S’Talla, “Go along S’Talla, your group and Commander Skyvik should take the tour; Skaul and I have a few details to take care of. We will go straight to the conference suites. We will see you there soon.” Syjak did not wait for a response, but bid Commander Spaech to lead the way.

Commander Spaech nodded to the young officer standing nearby. He then stood by the exit, with the Admiral waiting for Skaul to collect a travel bag and join them.

The young Vulcan spoke up, “I am Lieutenant Stolk, I am honored to be your guide. Please follow me.” said the Vulcan, Commander Spaech nodded to.

Sam stepped over to S’Talla and grabbed her in a hug. The departing Admiral and the other Vulcans in the room, turned to stare at the emotional display.

“It is so great to see you again, S’Talla. I can’t believe how much you’ve changed. I was so excited when I heard you were a member of the Negotiation Team.”

S’Talla disengaged from the hug, adjusted her meditation roll hanging from a diagonal shoulder strap by her belt, and gave Sam a rare smile. “It is good to see you again, Sam. I did not realize you were aboard the station. Are you planning to join us on our tour.”

“I wouldn’t miss the chance to catch up for anything.

“I am so sorry to hear about Tullic and Crillam. They were such good friends. I hope you are okay.”

S’Talla replied with no emotion, her hand resting protectively on the roll at her waist like it was a talisman, “It was a senseless loss. An unfortunate circumstance of the Vulcan condition. There are still remnants of the irrational past, even in our modern age.” She paused for a second to consider Sam’s human perspective, “I am fine, thank you for asking.”

The lieutenant led them down a corridor, avoiding an autonomous delivery vehicle, and walked them to a large view screen that overlooked the construction bay where the V5-Beta was docked. Her sleek lines, accentuated by the forward extending set of sensor arms and the fully encircling warp girdle aft, gave the impression of power and speed. The raised command dome, positioned forward between the forward arms, reminded Sam of a child pretending they could fly like an old Earth comic book superhero.

Lieutenant Stolk told them about the ship, “This is our station’s latest project. The V5 is an experimental joint scientific and strategic defense project designed for deep space exploration and data collection. The ship has a calculated warp speed of 9.8351; the fastest warp achieved by a ship this small. As you might be able to see, it is a modified and retro-fitted generation-five Vahklas class star cruiser. The hull has been extended to a length over all of 192 meters, and is designed to be staffed with a crew of only sixteen. The V5 has a carrying capacity of up to 120 passengers and 60 kilo-tons of cargo.

“It is reinforced with both light-mass physical armor plating and the latest, low energy consumption shielding, to deflect high velocity space debris. Combine that with newly developed inertial dampening technology and the V5 has a virtual inertial mass presence of a ship six times its size.”

“What does that mean?” asked Sam.

Skyvik, the large older Vulcan answered, “It means hitting it is like hitting something that has six times more mass.”

“Precisely.” agreed Lieutenant Stolk. He continued his lecture.

“The V5’s sensor array is fully integrated into its hull form and operates, much like our nerve matrix under our skin. To do this, it utilizes a new technology called bio-metalized-ceramics with a fibrous sponge-like bio-core between double-walled sandwich construction. The V5 cycles a mixture of liquefied biological metalized ceramics that act as insulation from radiation, filtration of grey water, transport of oxygen and other essential gasses.

“The V5 has natural autonomic breach repair. If cut, it bleeds, in a sense, a golden brown blood until the breach is self-healed. This ship represents the height of Vulcan technology

Lieutenant Stolk stood a little taller as he spoke,
“The V5-Beta’s intended missions will take it deep into uncharted space, with a minimal crew of twenty-six scientists and defense bureau diplomats. The ship will be in search of undiscovered, advanced intelligence and technology to, what is hoped, create new and prosperous alliances for the advancement of the Vulcan people.”

S’Talla’s emotionless face showed no recognition nor much in the way of real interest in what the guide was saying.

“That’s where I’m working, S’Talla. I’m designing her A.I. system’s learning algorithms based on a unique IDAC. Sorry, that stands for, Integrated Distributed Analog Circuitry. She’s the smartest ship in the quadrant.” Sam told her friend, with pride.

“I see.” responded the stoic Vulcan monk. “Quite interesting.”

***
TAKING THE V5 & FIGHTING ROMULANS
“You can’t go that way. We need authoriz…” Sam sees the Romulan attack party and the gaping bay doors, open to outer-space. She is momentarily stunned into silence.

Before Sam can respond to what is happening, Skyvik pulls a round object, about the size of a handball, from beneath his tunic. A click sounds and the large Vulcan tosses the small sphere rapidly into the open holding bay of the landed attack vessel. It explodes in an electrical storm inside the vessel. Four quick pulses catch Sam’s attention to her right. She snaps her head around to see S’Talla and the two Bynars holding freshly fired phasers. Four of the six Romulans fall. Two beams of light set a canister on fire just behind the five of them. The canister disintegrates, leaving just the fiery ball behind.

Sam dives for cover, as do the two Bynars and S’Talla. Skyvik brings out twin phasers and deftly eliminates the remaining two. He could be browsing for new shoes, for all Sam can tell of his demeanor.

“Stop! You are under arrest!” demanded the two guards just entering behind the group. S’Talla fires two quick bursts from her phaser. Both guards crumple to the floor.

Sam’s eyes grow wide. “You just killed two guards!”

“No. They will recover.” S’Talla says. “Get to the V5. It is the only way out of here now.”

“We can’t go in there, the bay doors are open to space.” Sam protests.

S’talla points to the blue lights encircling the wrecked bay doors. “There is an E.M. ion air containment field up. It is holding a layer of ionized air over the opening. We are already in the bay, there is no air loss, …at the moment. We must hurry, though. It may not hold long.” S’Talla walks into the gangway tunnel to board the V5-Beta. The sound and vibrations from another blast reverberate through the tunnel.

On board the ship, they hurry to the bridge where several technicians turn to watch them when the turbo-lift doors sweep open. A distant rumble echoes, shaking the bridge mildly. Taking a quick look around, the group disperses to various control stations.

Sam shrugs a silent ‘I don’t know’ at one of the technicians.

S’Talla announces to the bridge, “This is Captain S’Talla of the Vulcan Defence Ministry, security code 517A73329C.”

An electronic voice from hidden speakers answers, “Acknowledged, Captain S’Talla of Vulcan Defense Ministry. Systems unlocked. How may the V5-Beta be of service?”

“I am assuming command, as of Stardate 3-3727.1, by order of the Vulcan Defense Ministry. What is your operating status?”

The computer responds, “Welcome aboard Captain S’Talla. Captain S’Talla of the Vulcan Defence Ministry is now the Captain on record for the V5-Beta Longrange Reconnaissance Starcruiser number V5-B491, of the Vulcan Defence Ministry.

“All systems are in their final check. Internal sensors register that systems are operational with the exceptions of utilities in crew quarters 37, 38, 39 and 40, air filtration system on engineering deck
sub-level 2, the adjustments on bed two in sickbay, the pneumatic lift in shuttle bay one, the…”

“Computer, stop.” S’Talla interrupts.

The ship shakes while a distant explosion is felt.

The ship resumes its announcement, “Warning, we are under attack. Two Romulan birds-of-prey are within 900 kilometers and are discharging weapons in our vicinity. There is a raptor-class boarding shuttle approaching.”

S’Talla continues, “Computer, bring all operational systems online and prepare to get underway. Set shields to maximum as soon as we clear the docks.”

The two Bynars move to the forward control panels, while Skyvik takes up the tactical surveillance and communications stations. Skyvik, peers down into a visual sensor hood and adjusts a sliding dial and taps the touch screen below the viewing hood.
“Another Romulan raptor boarding shuttle has landed.” He announces.

S’Talla stands before the captain’s com, legs braced, palms upward, fingers laced together in front of her. “Computer, screen on, starboard view.”

The large screen on the forward wall comes to life showing a view of the space station. The gangway tunnel runs from the V5-Beta to the exterior wall of the space station. The bay doors, surrounded by melted hull plating and scorch marks, are wide open with a second, larger Romulan boarding shuttle settled just inside. Romulan soldiers can be seen in battle with station forces.

“Ya, disconnect dock moorings.” commands S’Talla.

“The Romulans have repelled the station forces and secured the bay. They are making their way into the gangway tunnel. We will be boarded in 46 seconds.” announces Skyvik.

Ya calls back, “I am seeing a safety warning.”

Ne finishes, “The moorings won’t disengage.”

S’Talla calls out, “Computer, cancel safety protocols on boarding gangway and disengage the V5-Beta from dock.”

The computerized voice replies, “canceling safety protocols while the gangway is in use, will compromise the safety of any personnel using the gangway. Do you wish to override safety protocols?”

“Yes.”

“The Romulans have reached the boarding hatch. They are cutting their way in.” announces Skyvik.

The electronic voice states, “Safety protocols cancelled. Disengaging gangway.”

Sam remains quiet as she finds a seat near the sensor station.

“Boarding tunnel is disengaged and away.” Skyvik informs the bridge. “Boarding hatch has suffered a minor breach, but no Romulan soldiers are aboard. The V5 is repairing itself and maintains Atmosphere integrity”

“Ya, engage engines and let us go.”

The two Bynars turn their chairs and face S’Talla, Ya speaks, “I am sorry to say,”

“but we have never actually flown…” continues Ne.

“…a starship before.” They both chorus.

Ne explains, “Our preparation and simulations did not include the time constraints…”

“…of battle conditions.” Ya finishes.

S’Talla says, “If you don’t think you can learn in…”

“22 seconds.” interrupts Skyvik. “The Romulan’s are exiting the gangway tunnel in space gear and PPPs. They will traverse the distance in 15 seconds.”

“I’ve got this.” Sam speaks up and runs to join Ya at the helm. “Moving forward at point zero-zero-zero-five impulse power.” She informs the bridge while leaning over Ya to access the control panel.

“Romulan forces are attached to the hull. They have begun expanding the breach.” Commander Skyvik calls out. “They will be aboard in 16 seconds.”

The view screen shows a Romulan space walker moving across towards the hatch to the left. The personal propulsion pack boosts the Romulan forward.

“No they won’t.” informs Sam, as she looks from screen down to her station panel and adjusts the helm.

The station moves by as the V5 gains momentum. A piece of superstructure from the docking bay slides past the view screen, pushing four Romulan spacemen along the hull with it. Their PPPs discharge frantically to propel them clear of the moving hull.

“We have cleared space-dock.” Skyvik calls out in his emotionless voice.

A blast rocks the ship.

S’Talla, still standing, legs braced, calls out, “shields up, maximum power.”

“Skyvik replies instantly, “Shields are already up, we suffered no appreciable damage.”

“See,” Sam pipes up, “smartest ship in the quadrant.”

Two more blasts and the ship is rocked again. S’Talla finally takes the command chair.

“Two Romulan birds-of-prey off the port bow.” calls Skyvik, “Another bird of prey with an escort of eight raptor assault fighters closing on a bearing of 311.25 mark 039.05.”

“Evasive maneuvers, Ms. Kelly.” S’Talla requests.

“Ne, weapons.

“Damage, Mr Skyvik?”

“We have lost 10.33 percent of our port shields.”

Another heavy blast.

“18.67%”

Another blast.

S’Talla calls, “Evade those torpedoes, Ms. Kelly.”

“I’m doing my best, S’Talla.” Sam responds without looking up from her helm display. “You’re just feeling the one percent that I can’t dodge.”

“27.7 percent” states Mr. Skyvik, flatly.

Kelly looks around at him. His head is down, eyes fixed to the tactical viewer. She returns her attention to her panel when two more hard blasts hit them.

“58.5 percent shield loss.”

“Return fire, Ne.”

Watching out the view screen, where the space station is sliding farther from view, S’Talla commands, “Take us behind that waste materials processing tank, on the underside of the station.”

“You got it.” answers Sam.

A Vulcan technician, who had been braced and watching from her station since S’Talla and her crew took over the ship, calls a warning, “No! There is a cluster of energy and munitions storage holds, adjacent to the waste processors. If they get hit, the ship will not survive the explosion. There is only a thirty one percent chance the utility deck would survive the blast and a nine percent probability that the station will be destroyed.”

“Ms. Kelly, come about and put the nearest bird-of-prey to our starboard beam. S’Talla instructs without hesitation.

“Thank you for that information. What is your name?” S’Talla asks of the Vulcan technician.

“T’Pia, warp engineer, working on the engine output sensor interface.” responds the short Vulcan woman wearing the green tunic of a Vulcan Space Central engineer. Her rank insignia indicates a commander.

An explosion interrupts the conversation.

“Another bird-of-prey has uncloaked.” announces Mr. Skyvik. He checks his display and says, “Their weapons are coming online, tracking sensors have locked on to us.”

“Ms. Kelly, put us in the shadow of that bird-of-prey to starboard. Give me a countdown to coverage from the attacking ship.”

“Okay!?” Answers Sam. “In the bird-of-prey’s shadow in 30 seconds…, 25…”

“Ne, target the new ship with full phasers and fire on my mark.” commands S’Talla.

“… 15 seconds.”

A blast rocks the ship.

“84.7 percent of our port shields are gone.”

“10, 9, 8,”

“Fire!” S’Talla calls firmly.

The sound of phaser banks releasing energy echos on the bridge.

“Behind the ship in 6 seconds.” continues Sam.

“Direct hit. They are returning fire. Four torpedoes at close range” Informs Commander Skyvik.

“Come about Ms. Kelly!”

“The bird-of-prey has hit their fellow ship.” Commander Skyvik announces. He checks his display, “No damage, but they have lost 88 percent of their shields.”

S’Talla directs, “Ne, fire at that near bird of prey and maintain.”

Ne responds, “Firing, point blank.”

“Their shields are failing.” announces Skyvik.

“Computer, is the cloaking system online?”

“Affirmative.”

Sam looks around at S’Talla, then meets T’Pia’s questioning stare.

“Target their warp drives, Ne.”

“Aye”, answers Ne.
“Captain”, finishes Ya.

The phaser pulse pauses and resumes.

“Direct hit from point blank range. They have lost their shields.” Calls out Mr. Skyvik.

The sound of phaser fire continues.

“The bird-of-prey has lost hull integrity and their warp core has gone critical. Explosion in eight seconds. Brace yourselves!” warns Skyvik.

S’Talla fires off a series of quick orders, “Stear us directly away from that ship, Ms. Kelly.”

“Cease fire, Ne.”

“Ya, Focus full shields aft.”

“Computer, activate cloak on my mark.”

Skyvik counts, “two seconds, one second, Now.”

The explosion blows the V5 in a sudden acceleration forward and the crew is thrown violently back in their seats as the energy of the blast overwhelms the inertial dampeners.

“Activate!” Shouts S’Talla.

“Our aft shields are down.” Announces Commander Skyvik.
“Hull plating is intact, but we only have 5.2 percent of our port shields remaining. Dorsal and ventral shields are down to 20.7 percent. Likewise for our forward and starboard shields. Inertial dampeners are working at 61 percent efficiency.

The large Vulcan checks his tactical display again. “The remaining birds-of-prey are scanning the area.”

S’Talla orders, “Ya, shut down all shields.

“Mr. Skyvik, turn off all unnecessary power emissions signals.”

“Shields are down, Captain.” Responds both Ya and Ne together.

Skyvik reports, “External energy signals cut to less than point zero zero zero one joules.”

Mr. Skyvik continues his monitoring. “The Romulan ships do not appear to have discovered our position. We are still within the radiation cloud of the destroyed bird of prey. Their sensors are likely only picking up debris and neutrino radiation distortion”

“Keep the V5 on one quarter impulse power. Ms. Kelly, maintain your distance from those birds-of-prey. I believe the V5 was their target. If they continue to threaten the station, prepare to re-engage.”

“The Romulans are breaking off their attack.” inserted Commander Skyvik.

Very good, Mr. Skyvik, let’s hope they continue on that course. “Ms. Kelly, set a course for sector 6 coordinates 002 mark 121 mark 5.”

“That’s very near the Neutral Zone, isn’t it?” Sam turns and asks.

“So near it is inside it.” S’Talla responds, almost off-handedly.

***

The Counselor T’Rai’s Garden

Inside a large dome amidst a cluster of Prosperous looking Vulcan residential buildings is a garden. The size and feeling is evocative of well cared for outdoor gardens complete with manicured lawn, garden paths, and even a greenhouse. On a small knoll at the edge of the grassy yard stands four white cylinders raised on short widely splayed tripod legs. The cylindrical boxes, standing just over a meter tall, are attended by two Vulcans. One, a female in a light tunic and slacks of contemporary fashion, the other is in tan colored coveralls with an attached mesh hood and heavy gloves.

The Vulcan in the coverall suit is delivering news.

“The V5 is gone.”

T’Rai looks up at the man in the suit. She has been standing beside one of the boxes, a hovercart floating beside her, watching insects flying in and out of the hive. When the man pauses for a response, the counsel woman raises one questioning eyebrow. He quickly continues.

“The Romulans attacked sooner than planned and the V5 was destroyed in the battle. The Coalition was aboard. They managed to steal the V5, but there were four Romulan birds-of-prey waiting for them as they left the station. The leader, the monk S’Talla, and her group, managed to destroy one of the Romulan ships and damage another badly, but the V5 got caught in the explosion of the Romulan warship. There was nothing left.”

“Nothing?”

“No recognizable wreckage that could be discerned from that of the bird-of-prey. The exploding warp core incinerated everything around it.”

“Ah! So no evidence of the V5 was found at all!?” T’Rai both states a fact and is asking for confirmation of her understanding.

“Well not exactly. We watched the battle from the command center of the space station. There is a clear, unequivocal recording of the V5 leaving the dock and engaging with the Romulan force. After the V5 was destroyed, along with one of their ships, the Romulans withdrew.”

“Then the Romulans know nothing more about the V5 than rumors and what they saw at the station?”

“Yes ma’am.”

T’Rai looks at the hive box she is standing next to. “The Earth honey bee, Commander Skaul. An amazing creature.”

The counsel woman lifts the top off the hive to expose the residence busily working Inside. A cloud of bees rise into the air around the two Vulcans. T’Rai pays no
attention to them, while her companion steps half a step backwards and watches nervously.

“Did you know honey bees have the most dense neural cluster of all known, non-sentient insectoids in this quadrant? While the individual bee is intelligent, for a small insect, each bee is a part of a larger mind that is demonstrably adaptive.

“Think of each bee like the brain cells in a neural network.”

T’Rai reaches in bare-handed and lifts out a yellow frame covered with bees. She pay no attention to the dozen bees that crawl around on her bare hands.

“Honey bees die when they sting, a sacrifice for the hive. Everything they do is for the hive. The needs of the many always outweigh the needs of the few in the world of the honey bee.

T’Rai holds the frame of honeycomb up to inspect. She waves Skaul in, to show him the frame. Skaul reluctantly steps closer.

T’Rai continues her lesson, “Bees communicate with each other in a most interesting fashion. When they go out and find pollen, they will come back and do what has been quaintly called, the waggle dance. It is a series of movements that actually communicates to the rest of the hive, where to find the pollen.”

She points to a tiny bee whose abdomen was shaking back and forth as she moves across the frame. “Bees also communicate with pheromones, touch and sound. When they are warning a potential invader away, they buzz loudly. They will tap you to warn you away. When they decide you are a threat, they release a pheromone to coordinate a mass attack, they touch antennae, and have a sensitivity to EM emissions. They may even have enough control over the planetary magnetic field to aid in flight. A truly remarkable creature with no parallel here on Vulcan.

“Bees are organized, much like Vulcans, in casts to do different jobs. Only the worker bees find, collect and bring back the pollen to make the honey. The house bees raise the brood and the queen has a select few attendant bees to take care of her. It is all very logical and organized, but none of their collective intelligence is of value without their queen. The queen is the strength and personality of the hive. She is the hive’s Id, to use an ancient Earth term.

“Vulcan is like the hive of the honey bee. We are intelligent and united of purpose. As long as we have a strong queen, Vulcans will always prosper.”

T’Rai turns the frame in her hand to show the other side. “See these cells that are larger than the others?”

Skaul inspects the frame T’Rai is holding up. It is alive with bees.

“There comes a time when the queen has aged too long and runs out of eggs. The honey bees will sense this and start building a new queen to supersede the old one.”

T’Rai points to two larger waxy protrusions. She hangs the frame on brackets attached to her hover cart.

“These are supercedure cells and they indicate that the bees are worried that they may need to replace their queen.

T’Rai pauses to look over the frame. After cutting the two supercedure cells out with her hive tool, she replaces the frame.

“Did you know T’Pau will be two hundred and thirty five next month? It is only logical that factions should arise thinking it might be time to feed the royal jelly to the next queen. We need to be ready to do what’s best for all of Vulcan. Remove the queen cell or let it grow. The needs of the many must outweigh the needs of the few.”

Placing the cover back on the hive, T’Rai leads Skaul away, down the knoll.

Skaul asks, “If the bees sense the queen is running out of eggs, why did you remove the cells to replace her?”

“In this case, their queen is young and laying well. There are many reasons they might have built the cell. They are not my reasons.

“I have a call to make, Skaul. You should return to Admiral Syjeck. Have him put out a notice that all generation five Vahklas class ships are to be checked against the master flight maps at Space Central. Any aberrant flight or hull configuration data is to be logged and the starship in question is to be tracked and updated. No action is to be taken, at this time. If The V5 is found, we need to be very cautious. Tell the Admiral he should expect to hear from the terrorist group. I can handle the Romulans. They know that the Yon-Ha’gel project exists, of course. I need to know how much more they have discovered.”

Skaul comments flatly, “You are privy to information even I do not have, if you have heard that S’Talla and her band have survived.”

“No, just a logical supposition based on how resourceful I have come to know both S’Talla and commander Skyvik are and what I know about the V5-Beta’s capabilities. Believe me, commander Skaul, the odds of the V5 being destroyed are far less than those for its survival, considering your report that no wreckage was recovered.”

Skaul turns to leave, relieved to be able to get safely out of his bee suit.

“And Skaul, you are keeping an eye on the Admiral? His sympathies for STalla and her group should not be allowed to grow beyond reason. Remember, we need to prevent interplanetary war. There is no room for sentimentality.

“Oh yes, and tell Admiral Syjeck that the V5 and its crew are now fugitives. If it comes to preventing the Romulans or the Klingons from getting their hands on that ship, he will need to order the Vulcan Space Defence Corp to destroy it on sight.”

“Of course.”

***

The view screen shows a Romulan official, obviously high ranking by the medals and decorations on his uniform. Senator T’Rai, a stately middle aged Vulcan woman, black hair piled in an elegant braid crowning her head, is speaking firmly, but calmly. “This attack on our space station is outrageous. You have compromised everything we have worked for. The Vulcan people will not stand idly by in the face of your ill advised attack within Vulcan space. We are trying to avoid war, not start one.

“It was all a misunderstanding, senator. The information the Imperial Star Navy was acting on, came from somewhere else. They moved before I could delay them.”

The Romulan shifts from a posture of supplication to one of amusement, “However, it seems their efforts were wasted, as I understand. Some radical faction was already stealing your prize ship right out from under you. It speaks to the leader’s skill that they, not only were able to break into your facilities and steal a highly protected secret military project, but that they managed to best an Imperial Star Navy bird of prey.”

He sits forward in righteous indignation, straightening up and sitting taller.

“Unfortunately for them, the Empire found out about your little spy ship and what it was capable of. It’s very existence has compromised Romulan trust. You want to avoid war? This was for the best, really. I’m sorry for the loss of her crew. I would have enjoyed knowing how you responded to their demands, if they had managed to get away with it. But, there is no way to stop a Romulan fleet, once it is on its way to destroy the enemy.”

The Vulcan woman responds coldly, “Don’t lie to me Gravvin. You and Damak were the only Romulans who knew about the Yon-Ha’gel project and the V5-Beta. That ship was a subverted science vessel. I released a sham report on the ship’s abilities only to you. I am trying to find out who in the council wants war, and you knew that too. Was it a mistake to confide in you and Damak? Am I colluding with the enemy?

“I don’t know what game you two are playing, Gravvin, but your petty short term political victories are compromising our plan. We have put too much into this project. You and I have spent years planning this reunification and you are letting your emotions and fears interfere.

“It does not matter. Your people believe we were building a super-spy ship and now it is destroyed. You can make this work for us, too. Otherwise, there will never be a reconciliation between our two people, that you will be a part of. Do you understand me?”

“Now who is the one lying? With what that ship could do, Romulus could not afford to allow someone else to control it.” Gravvin reposts emotionally. “The intelligence gathered by the Imperial Star Navy confirms your, so called, sham reports. Fast, over warp 10, highly resistant shielding, heavy armament, dense resolution long range sensors, and cloaking abilities. That ship wasn’t a science vessel and it wasn’t a fake, it was designed to spy on Romulus in a time of war.

“You think I don’t know you’re working your own agenda, Councilor?”

“Believe what you will. I am the one who is being lied to. My purpose in constructing the V5-Beta was to provide a tool for our people’s reconciliation.” Responded T’Rai, trying to emphasize their mutual involvement. “Once I discovered how that ship could be used, I came to you and our plan, yours and mine Gravvin, was to reveal its existence so that we could join in condemning its purpose and help build trust. I just needed to find the people to blame.

“That ship was never going to be used as a spy ship and I will not sit here and defend my statements. Vulcans do not lie. I am not telling you anything we have not already gone over. Your emotions are getting away from you and your premature attack has endangered our plans.”

T’Rai changed tack, “I am certain that you particularly, feel relieved that your Star Force managed only to destroy the ship. I imagine that, if they had managed to capture it, they would be asking some very uncomfortable questions about where Vulcan got ahold of Romulan cloaking technology, Gravvin.” T’Rai emphasizes Gravvin’s name.

A signal and an insert window pops up on the view screen.

“Make it work or you will be left out of history while others make monumental decisions that set its course without you.”

Gravvin leans forward and starts to shout, “You said your technology was unique…”

T’Rai terminates the connection. She presses an answer button and the inset window expands. The call is from Admiral Syjak. T’Rai opened the channel. “More bad news Admiral?”

“Quite the contrary. It seems S’Talla has survived, along with the V5. Considering the unexpected timing of the Romulan attack, how do you suggest we proceed? We can’t allow the existence of the V5 to become known.”

T’Rai sits up, “You are right. We need to locate that ship. I have sent Skaul with orders. We can’t afford to be seen as sympathetic to a ship that defies our treaties with Romulus. However, we may still be able to use the V5. I think we have a unique opportunity to investigate the council. I am starting to worry about a connection with the Romulans. Carry on Admiral and keep me informed.”

***
Resistance to the Resistance

Sam spins her helm seat around and takes a deep breath to vent at her friend.

S’Talla opens a shipwide channel before anyone can react. “All hands, this is your new captain speaking. We have managed to evade the enemy and prevent further attack on the station. Please assemble in the main conference room on deck ‘C’ right away. I will explain our unusual situation and see to providing anyone who desires with a drop-off and return to Vulcan. Otherwise, this ship will not be returning to Vulcan space.

“Any questions you may have will be answered there. Captain S’Talla out.”

S’Talla gives Sam a look, “It really is good to see you again, Sam. Though you may not feel the same way by now.”

***

In the conference room, a small crowd of Vulcans and a few other races, including a number of humans, have gathered.

“My name is S’Talla. I have taken command of this ship.

“The attack by the Romulans was aimed at the V5. They were not attacking the station or its people except as a way of capturing or destroying a weapon, they felt, was designed expressly to be used against them.

“Now that we have convinced them that we have been destroyed, they have already broken-off their attack. In the process of escaping, we managed to take some damage and destroyed one of their birds-of-prey. I am sorry for the loss of those Romulans aboard the destroyed bird-of-prey. We have no desire to become enemies of the Romulan people.”

An interruption stops S’Talla’s explanation.

A Tiburonian man steps forward, “The V5-Beta is a ship of science and exploration. It is not a weapon.”

S’Talla nods with understanding. “You are…?”

“Randool Harrix, I’m an engineer, testing the mechanical and engineering systems. I am currently working on Shuttle 4.

“This ship has nothing to do with war.” he presses.

S’Talla, standing with her hands clasped together low in front of her, fingers entwined, palms turned upward with thumbs resting against each other, patiently asks, “Then you are familiar with all systems on this ship, including the shielding and weapons?”

“It is not my assigned area, but I have seen and inspected nearly every system aboard.”

“Excellent, Mr. Harrix. Then, do you know how we managed to destroy one Romulan bird-of-prey and elude three others?”

“I have no idea. There are no military grade weapons aboard. We are no match for a bird-of-prey.”

S’Talla looked around the room. No one seemed to understand. She inclined her head toward T’Pia, “You seemed surprised when I gave the order to turn on the ship’s cloaking. Can you confirm that we are now running through space under cloaking technology?”

There’s a pause as T’Pia thinks back to how she might have given away her surprise at S’Talla’s activation of a system she believed didn’t exist.

As if reading her thoughts, S’Talla explains, “You looked at Sam to see if she knew about the cloaking system.

T’Pia nods in understanding, “Indeed, it would appear that we do have a cloaking device aboard. It is logical to conclude that, since the Romulan sensors did not appear to find us after you instructed the computer to activate the cloak, the V5 has a cloaking device.” responds T’Pia.

“Sam, as an Earthling, your emotions are less controlled, much more apparent. My fellow Vulcans will be able to better judge your words. Tell us that you knew about the cloaking abilities of this ship.”

“No, S’talla, I did not. I knew we had shields and basic weapons, but I had no idea they were as powerful as they proved to be.”

S’Talla, nodding her head, presses her point further, “Would you agree that these things are not standard scientific equipment, but are, indeed, quite necessary for a warship?”

No one says anything.

“Our government has been lying to us. There are factions within our own government whose personal agenda will precipitate us into war. The construction of this ship is one such action and We are here to prevent that from happening.

“It seems we moved too late. I had hoped to secure the V5-Beta before the Romulans had cause to engage in hostilities.

“It is the intent of the Vulcan Coalition for Peace Reform, to prevent this ship from being used by those who would put their own prosperity ahead of that of the Vulcan people.

“For those of you who do not share in our goal of peace and wish to return to your lives on Vulcan, we will arrange to put you planet-side where you can continue to live your lives as you choose. For those who wish to open your eyes to the inequities of our current establishment and do something about it, you are welcome to join us. The needs of the many must outweigh the needs of the few.”

There was a brief, quiet discussion among the assembled group.

“This is highly irrational. Why not bring this to the attention of the High Council?” T’Pia speaks out.

“We found no help from the Council. At least one of the Council members is part of this plan to undermine the treaty. The Yon-Ha’gel project was conceived by a council member.”

“Who! Which Council member is putting themselves ahead of the Vulcan people?” Challenges T’Pia. “Councilors are among the most respected officials in the whole Federation of Planets. It is illogical to assume the Council is corrupt.”

“I do not know which member or members are corrupt, otherwise I would be dealing more directly with them. However, my own experience has led me to this conclusion.

“I am not one to act without cause. I am a monk of the Order of Logic and Reason. I trained at the Temple of Perfect Logic. I do not make assumptions and I do not enter into this action frivolously.

“Two years ago, I had occasion to over-hear the details of the Yon-Ha’gel project being discussed by visitors to the Temple of Pure Reason where I have been living. They did not know my window opened to the inner garden and that I took my meditation at lunch time.

“I could not say who they were, but they were high ranking officials with detailed information that has proven to be accurate.

“How else would I have access to the code that allowed me to take control of the ship?” S’Talla asks the congregation.

No one has an answer.

A young human of Asian descent steps forward, a hand in the air, “What about us non-Vulcans? You’re going to let us go too?”

He is angry and mistrustful; his tone is challenging.

“It sounds like the Coalition for Peace Reform is not much more than a common terrorist group. You talk of peace and corruption, yet you have stolen a ship full of peaceful scientists, kidnapping us and engaging with and destroying a Romulan bird-of-prey.

“What’s next, demands for ransom?”

S’Talla looks at the angry young man, then over the assembled technical crew and finally settles her gaze upon Sam.

“No. You will be free to go as soon as it is safe to put you off. However, I can not say how soon that will be.” S’Talla pauses a moment. “I would point out that this is your fight, as well. Vulcan peace is a Federation concern. Perhap, more a concern to the Federation than even to Vulcan.

“War between Vulcan and Romulus would mean war for the Federation as quickly as if the Romulans were to attack Earth again. This concerns everyone.”

There are murmurs of agreement.

“Let me reiterate.” S’Talla continues, “You are not hostages; there will be no ransom demands. Our interest is in peace and only peace. If you choose to stay on, your assistance would be most welcome.”

“Is there any choice?” Asks the young Earthling in a disbelieving tone. “Those Romulans were killed at the hands of people claiming to be only interested in peace.”

“Bridge to Captain S’Talla!” Skyvik’s deep voice halts S’Talla from over the ship’s comm.”

“S’Talla here.”

“The media is running a piece on the attack already.”

S’Talla says, “Thank you Mr. Skyvik. Computer, activate screen and play the current Vulcan News Media report in progress.”

The computer responds, “Vulcan News Media on screen.”

The vid-screen on the starboard wall comes on and a well known Vulcan news reporter named Spynark is standing in the space station lounge Sam and S’Talla and her “gang” were in when the attack started, the VNM logo is displayed in the bottom left corner

The station commander is saying, “… powerful attack. They managed to land two raptor invasion shuttles and captured number two construction dock. Our forces were eventually able to repel them and maintain the rest of the station’s safety.”

Spynark asks the commander, “Do you know what they wanted with the astro-ways station, commander?”

“I am not fully familiar with the motives of the Romulan Empire, so I can only give a reasoned supposition.” answers Commander Spaech.

“Understood. If you do not mind, I think the people of Vulcan would like to know your reasoning. You are in the best position to make rational conjectures and it might help clarify what has happened.”

Commander Spaech reluctantly tells his story, “At first, I thought they had managed to capture the V5-Beta, a specially modified fifth generation Vahklas class star ship the station was building for deep space scientific exploration. The V5 contained the very latest Vulcan technology to accomplish its mission. It would be quite concerning if Romulus were able to capture the V5-Beta.

“My security staff are telling me, however the vessel was actually stolen by some radical peace group called the Vulcan Coalition for Peace Reform. They warned of more attacks like this one if Vulcan continues to ignore its peace treaties.

“I have never heard of them before, but I looked them up in the database. Apparently they registered as a special advocacy group two years ago.”

The Vulcan reporter confirms, “That is affirmative. They are a relatively new group, ostensibly in support of rehabilitating our interplanetary policies and alien species relationships. Their stated goal is to reform the self-centered practices of the governing Council by some of its members.

“However, it looks as if all their registered members were on board the V5-Beta when it was destroyed by the Romulans. They would have needed a great deal of assistance from inside the V5-Beta program, thus it is believed the scientists and engineers aboard, at the time of the attack, were all involved. Had they survived, all members and those assisting in their theft of the V5-Beta, would be declared terrorist threats of the Vulcan State and enemies of the Federation of Planets. They would be facing charges to that effect.

“It has been suggested by a high ranking council member that it was this group who baited the Romulans to cross the neutral zone into this unprecedented attack.”

“However, from one perspective, they may also be responsible for repelling the attack on the space station and consequently saving hundreds of lives. The evidence is not clear and it would be illogical to come to any conclusions regarding the nature and actions of this renegade group.”

Turning back to the station Commander, Spynark asks, “Do you think the Romulans will continue to be hostile and return with more force or have the Vulcan defenses taught them to reconsider their actions?”

“I couldn’t say. The station’s defense forces acquitted themselves with professionalism, but it seems that once their bird-of-prey was destroyed, the Romulans lost the will to continue.”

“You may turn the screen off now.” S’Talla directs.

Turning to the assembly, S’Talla continues, “It seems returning you to Vulcan may present complications. For this I am truly sorry. I will do what I can, but I can not return to Vulcan myself and I will not return this ship.

“I leave it to you to decide for yourselves. Our cause for peace and justice is your cause as well. You are welcome to join us on our crusade.”

S’Talla walks to the door and turned back. “I will be in the captain’s quarters if anyone wants me.”

She leaves.

***

Old Friends Reunited

The door chimes in the captain’s quarters.

“Enter!” answers the tall, blue skinned Vulcan woman.

Sam is revealed as the door slides open from the center.

She looks around the sparsely appointed quarters, “I like what you’ve done with the place.” She smiles, but it is slightly strained.

“I have done nothing. I’ve only been here nine minutes, thirty-seven seconds. Not enough time to…”

“I know, I was just teasing. You’re a Vulcan, it will probably take years before you make any personal changes to your quarters.”

S’Talla said, “I am sorry that circumstances are as they are. It really would be a pleasure to see you again, otherwise. Now, it is… complicated. ”

Sam moved to the desk where S’Talla sat in front of a thin computer screen.

“Ah, starting your captain’s log already. How Vulcan of you.” Sam comments.

Looking around, Sam spots a lounge chair next to an empty plant pot and sinks into it, putting her feet up on the extending footrest.

“But, a social activist, I would have never pegged you for an activist, S’Talla. You are so… introspective. I thought of you as the perfect monk.”

S’Talla raised one eyebrow, “Monks especially, have a strong social conscience. It is rare, however, that we are confronted with issues that require our becoming so proactive. I have been confronted with issues that could not be ignored.”

Sam replies, “Well, it has been pretty exciting.

“The people of Vulcan deserve to know what’s being done in their name. The Federation, as well.” Sam added helpfully.

“I know you would not go flying off on some half cocked fantasy, so I’m in. I will help any way I can?”

S’Talla adds, “I really appreciate your faith in me. I am honored and promise you that this is not a frivolous act. We can not allow this ship to be used by Vulcan as an instrument of war and we must not allow the nature of this ship to become known to anyone or its existence would be seen by the competing species of Vulcan and the Federation as a sign of bad faith, at the least and a threat that would lead to war, at its worst.”

Sam drops her feet from her foot rest and leans forward, “So what’s the plan now?”

S’Talla places her fingers tip to tip as she leans back in her chair and thinks a moment, “Destroying the ship is not a viable option. We can not go back to Vulcan nor anywhere within Federation space. We will need a vessel to survive; perhaps, we can help Vulcan, and the Federation, by putting this ship to its official purpose. We will go looking for new relationships with intelligent life that can provide us with new technologies.”

S’Talla taps, what looks like, an ancient scroll, laying spread out on her desk.

“What is that?” Sam asks, leaning forward to get a better look.

“It is the Ozhit-Pa-Tepul-T’Stukhtra.” S’Talla pauses, waiting for Sam’s recognition. “It is ancient and sacred writing, scriptures about the power of the Universe. It writes about having the power to master the world; how to be a god.”

“Uh huh. Well, that would come in handy about now.” Sam adds dryly. She shakes her head, “I never took you for fanciful curiosity. What’s the rest of the story?”

“The Ozhit describes an artifact called the ‘Vaikar-Kau-Bureki’. This could be the kind of technology that might help.”

“I’ve heard of that. The ‘Stone of Knowledge Seekers’ or, on Earth, the ‘Philosopher’s Stone’. It was supposed to transmute lead into gold, among other miracles. Are you suggesting there is something to the myth?”

S’Talla replied, “Most cultures seem to have a similar legend. A stone that creates wealth or power or energy in near impossible amounts. The ‘Vaikar-Kau-Bureki’ is said to possess the ability to generate vast amounts of energy to be used for creation or as a weapon.”

“It’s not real, S’Talla, it’s a metaphor. On ancient Earth, the Philosopher’s Stone was said to transmute lead to gold, bring life to the dead, and more, but it was a metaphor for achieving enlightenment. Lead was the base or unenlightened person. The unenlightened were unconscious, asleep, “dead”. Gold represented the enlightened, awake person. This is what is meant by “reborn”. This was the person who was truly “alive”.

“Interesting.” S’Talla said thoughtfully. “The same was thought to be the case on Vulcan. However, there seems to be some credible reports that the Vaikar-Kau-Bureki exists and has been located off-world. The Ozhit is supposed to contain clues to its location. The ancient riddles need to be read as they were written, however. Many of the references have subtle meanings that have been lost. The ancients wrote in analogy and metaphor, as you point out. But, I believe the stone does exist.”

“It needs to be translated. All I see are a set of ancient numbers, a series of dot patterns that look like a piece of music, followed by an ancient text in a frame of illumination art. Translating the ancient text is the key.”

***

Skyvik sat in the captain’s chair while Ya and Ne occupied navigation and weapons.

T’Pia sat at the system’s analysis and control station, next to the sensor monitoring station where Skyvik had stationed himself during the battle earlier.

T’Pia speaks up, “You are retired Defense Ministry, are you not, Mr. Skyvik?”

Skyvik turns his chair to face T’Pia, “That is correct.” Skyvik’s voice resonates in a strong baritone.

“Is what S’Talla was saying about private interests directing Vulcan policy and threatening the peace for Vulcan and the Federation correct? Are there members of the Council putting their own interests above those of the people of Vulcan?”

“Yes!” Skyvik’s answers succinctly.

“And you and Captain S’Talla are all members of this group, Coalition for Vulcan Peace Reform?”

“That is correct.”

“Are the four of you really all there is to this organization?” T’Pia pressed.

“No.” The commander confirms.

“I see, so what exactly was the planned next step?” asks T’Pia.

“Take the V5 into open space to prevent her use as a weapon of war or from being stolen by Romulus. Use the V5 to gather evidence of and expose internal corruption when we can be sure justice will be certain.” Skyvik answers in an uncharacteristically long answer.

“Now that we are deceased criminals on Vulcan, we will have to review our options. S’Talla is working on that.”

T’Pia’s lips thinned, “Certainly, and how did a pair of Bynars get caught up in this folly?” She asked, turning to the two seated at the forward control stations.

The two Bynars turned as one to address T’Pia’s question. Ya explains, “We are part of a cultural…”

Ne interjects, “and technological exchange.”

Ya continued, “The Vulcan’s devotion to logic is not unlike Bynar philosophy.”

Ne added, “We are interested in Vulcan’s famous spirituality.”

Ya said, “We petitioned to join the monks of the Temple of Perfect Logic…”

Ne completed Ya’s sentence, “to help us fulfill our interest. Bynars have no particular spiritual devotion, we simply are what we are…”

Ya finished, “and not what we are not.”

T’Pia asked, “S’Talla and Skyvik’s plan is not exactly of a spiritual nature. How is it you have become a member of this… coalition?”

“Bynar is located very close to the Neutral Zone.” Answers Ya.

Ne says, “We are also members of the Federation. Any war that broke out between Vulcan and Romulus would find us caught in the middle.”

Ya goes on, “Bynar would be forced to join in the conflict…”

“Or withdrawal from the Federation and…” Ne says.

Ya finishes, “Lock down Bynar space from outsiders.”

They both say together, “S’Talla’s reasoning is sound, we are compelled to join.”

“In deed.” Says T’Pia. “I’m beginning to see some wisdom in her actions.”

Just then, another Vulcan enters the bridge from the turbo lift. Sadek is a slim, green skinned Vulcan with a crew cut head. “Commander Skyvik, Sadek. I am here to report in, as a member of the Coalition for Vulcan Peace Reform.

“It seems there was an error in the calculations for predicting the Romulan attack. Captain S’Talla seemed to handle the situation well enough, though.”

Skyvik asks him, “What were your assigned duties under the Yon-Ha’gel project?”

“My job has been to run the final tests, troubleshoot and make adjustments to the ship’s shields. Shields were heavily damaged, but I estimate they will be back online in two hours and 22 minutes.

“Please convey to captain S’Talla, that I have reported in and everything is secure.

“Welcome aboard.” He finishes.

Skyvik presses a button on the arm of the command chair, “Bridge to the Captain.”

***

Sam is saying, “you can count me in. My parents taught me to hate corruption in public service. It is hypocritical to take an oath to serve the people when work to enrich…”

Skyvik’s voice interrupts, “Bridge to the Captain.”

“S’Talla here.” S’Talla responds.

“Lieutenant Sadek has checked in.”

“Good. We will have a strategy meeting in one hour. I will need to contact the Admiral.”

“Very good captain.”

Sam asks, after the connection with Skyvik is severed, “Admiral Syjak? He helped you steal the V5. That’s how you knew the command code and about the cloaking abilities. Is he part of this group, the Coalition of…”

“The Vulcan Coalition of Peace Reform.” S’Talla helps.

“He’s not exactly a member, but he does sympathize with our mission. The command code was overheard in the same conversation that sent me out on my mission of peace.”

Sam asks, “What was the plan, take the V5 out to a rendezvous point and destroy it?”

“Not exactly, but close enough. I have to assume that if the Romulans have learned about the Yon-Ha’gel project and responded so quickly, that our plans may also be compromised. I must check in with the Admiral. He will have the latest intelligence. Then, we will proceed with meeting at our rendezvous or develop a new plan.”

“‘Plans are compromised’, ‘Latest intelligence’, ‘rendezvous’, you are not sounding like a monk, S’Talla. I hope I’m not seeing the quiet, contemplative young Vulcan monastic student I grew up with becoming a soldier of war. Is this the true S’Talla? Have you become a soldier instead of a monk?”

S’Talla recalls how she was recruited into the OSS.

***
S’Talla was meditating in her room when she overheard a conversation outside her window overlooking the garden.

“The Romulans are aware of the Yon Ha’gel project, but they do not know what it is yet.”

A second voice responded, “I believe we can handle the Romulans. We just have to keep feeding them information about the V5-Beta until we are ready for them to act.”

“What about the other Counsel members? I don’t think we can keep them ignorant of the Yon Ha’gel Project once the Romulans attack it.”

The second voice answered, “I’m already laying the foundation for that. I have convinced Cousel woman T’Rai that we need a ship with the latest technology to explore deeper into uncharted space. Research and first contact discovery of new life and new civilizations may be a resource for new technology and prosperity. She is interested in advancing Vulcan prosperity, so it was not difficult to get her to approve the project we have already started.”

“And after we declare war on Romulus?” The first voice asked.

“We will be the only source of Vulcan technology weapons systems. War will cause the Counsel to declare itself under martial rule and one council member will be elected as the Vulcan Planetary Commander. His word becomes absolute.”

“And you are positioned for that eventuality?”

“Perhaps.”

“Very good, give me the command codes and I will start building a prospective crew manifest.”

“You will memorize this. Don’t record it. It offers full and complete access to the ship’s computer system. It is: Vulcan Defence Ministry, security code 517A73329C. Shall I repeat it?”

“Once more.”

S’Talla continued trying to ignore the conversation, but her deeply honed mental faculties remembered perfectly when the two exchanged the access codes for the computer being constructed aboard the secret ship.
____

S’Talla, dressed in a tan athletic training tunic, blocked a kick from her sparring partner, a shaved headed male Vulcan in similar tunic. S’Talla, by contrast, has let her blue black hair grow out in the tradition of her ancestors and kept it braided around the crown of her head. She caught the heel of her opponent’s kicking foot and lifted his extended leg and flipped him onto his back. Her movement was effortless and graceful.

S’Talla backed off as the male Vulcan stood back up, and the master called a halt to the match. He raised his tutor’s rod in the hand to S’talla’s side of the mat. Both opponents face each other and touch their hands with their fingers splayed in the Vulcan symbol of good will, the victor’s right hand to the looser’s left hand. They slightly nodded their heads to one another.

Climbing out of the circular combat ring, S’Talla is met by a large older Vulcan of formal bearing. He introduces himself as Skyvik of the VDM.

S’Talla answered with her Vulcan hand greeting, “I am pleased to meet you Mister Skyvik.”

“Commander, I am a commander with the Operation of Support Strategies.”

“Commander Skyvik. You are responding to my call?”

Skyvik answers, “Affirmative. Counsel member T’Rai wants to treat this with urgency and sensitivity.

“I have studied your resume. I am impressed.”

“Thank you. What can I do to help?

“We need new, unknown agents. We don’t have time to recruit and train the typical new soldier. You have the discipline that would cut the training time by half. Your hand to hand combat skills show a strong grasp of strategy and creative problem solving. These are the skills that are required of an OSS agent. Our job is to provide alternative solutions to direct military confrontation and support military planning with information and pre-engagement assessments. It takes focus, discipline, creativity and stamina, all attributes you have already.”

“I’m a monk of Logic. I don’t fight except to hone my mind and my body. I support peace, not war. That is why I called counsel member T’Rai. She seems to support Vulcan’s interests.
***
“I am a monk, Sam. I am a person of peace, but I am more than that. I am Vulcan. Vulcans are a people of peace, but Vulcans act when action is necessary. To be a people of peace, we must be prepared to act the soldier, when necessary.”

“Tell me Sam, when did you learn to pilot a starship?”

“That was little more than a creative application of the sample test algorithms I’ve been working with to develop the computer’s IDAC. The V5 could have done it on her own, but I was unsure of the time delay she might have experienced understanding the commands from a new captain. I was just familiar with the controls on this ship. On another, I’d be completely lost.

“Speaking of the V5, how are we going to hide a starship?”

“I intend to discuss that very question at the strategy meeting. All ideas are welcome.” answers S’Talla.

***

Charlie sits down at a table in the ship’s canteen. He hands one of two steaming drinks across to T’Pia. “Green tea, T’Pia.”

“Thank you Charlie.” T’Pia is sitting quietly at the table, introspective.

“So, what do you think is going on?” Charlie asks of his Vulcan supervisor.

“The V5 has been hijacked by a dissident group, ostensibly to prevent members of the High Council from using it in violation of a Vulcan peace treaty with Romulus.”

Charlie blinks with surprise, “No, I know that part, I mean, what do you think is really going on? I mean, do you believe her?” Referring to S’Talla’s short speech.

“Captain S’Talla? There is the fact that we are working on the V5-Beta under a secret project name even though we were told that the V5 is intended only for scientific research and space exploration. The V5 is obviously more than what we were told and what it appears to be.”

T’Pia pauses a moment to sip her tea. “The captain appears to be telling the truth. She did not need to offer any explanation nor ask for volunteers. She did not need to even offer to release us when it will sacrifice her anonymity and threaten her mission to do so. I have not had the chance to look into her story about being a member of the Vulcan Priesthood, but I suspect that will check out. If so, that lends a great deal of credence to her claims, as well.

“Vulcan monks are among the most committed followers of logic and reason. As such, they are known to never lie. I am sorry to say that the same can not be said about some members of the Council.”

“So, you are ok with all of this?”, Charlie asks.

T’Pia smiles slightly. “I am not saying that.”

Charlie leans forward conspiratorially, you know, I grew up an orphan raised in a Shaolin Temple, back on Earth. I learned how to fight very well. If it comes to that, I’m sure I can help.”

T’Pia asks, “This Shaolin, it is a warrior religion?”

“No. Shaolin Buddhism is a religion of peace. They practice Gung Fu to hone the mind and the body. It was originally developed to protect the monasteries from raiders, since they didn’t keep weapons. Now, it is more tradition than anything else.”

T’Pia looks at Charlie, a slight, young 22 year old human, and responds, “Vulcans are considerably stronger than Humans, I don’t think you would be much help if it came to a fight. However, our most logical course of action is to wait and see what their plan is. It would be folly to act without knowing the situation better.”

Charlie frowns, “Perhaps, but the longer we wait, the farther away from Vulcan we get. And Kung Fu isn’t about strength, it’s about redirection. An opponent’s strength can be used against them. Wait for your opponent to commit, then redirect their momentum and use they force against them.”

“That…, is why we wait.” T’Pia responds.

A Vulcan female of approximately 30 years, arrives carrying a tray of soup and a bread roll. “May I join you?”

Charlie looks up, “T’Pree, right? You’re working on the transporter system.”

“That is correct, I apologize, but I do not know your name.”

T’Pia invites “You are welcome to join us.”

T’Pia nods towards her companion, “Charlie and I were just discussing whether or not we should start work on our next project.

“How would you assess the conditions aboard, T’Pree?” asks T’Pia.

T’Pree adjusts her tray and her seat. She then considers her response. “Logically, it is too early to draw any conclusions, but I think time is not in our favor. Our new captain has had much more opportunity to work out her strategies than we and she clearly knows how to think quickly. If I am reading your question correctly. I would support further assessment of the situation before deciding on any action.”

“Precisely what I was saying to young Charlie.” T’Pia said.

Charlie leans in, “And I was pointing out that we are getting farther and farther away from Vulcan Space every minute we wait. But I get it; there could be other members of her group hidden among the engineering team.”

Charlie changes the subject, “And, what’s up with her blue skin and her name? I thought Vulcan females all had names like T’Pia or T’Pree or T’Pol.”

“She is Ca’Tau.” Replied T’Pia, simply.

Charlie waits a moment for elaboration.

“… and that is…?” he prompts for more.

A fourth voice interrupts, “this looks like a friendly table to find company at. Do you have room for a fourth?” The speaker is another Earth intern. He is in his mid-thirties, Eastern Mediterranean coloring with dark curly hair.

“I’m sorry, I know T’Pia and Charlie, but I haven’t met you yet. My name is Damian, Damian Apollonias.” Damian extends his hand towards T’Pree.

“T’Pree. It is nice to meet you. You are welcome to join us.”

They all adjust their chairs to make room for a fourth seat around the table.

“What is it you do aboard the V5?” T’Pree asks bluntly.

Damian answers, “I am working on the backup power systems. I’m pretty much done, I was just waiting, hoping to see it in actual use before calling it a completed job. I am certainly getting that chance now.

“Did I just hear you talking about our new captain? Please continue, I am completely fascinated with Vulcan culture. I would have never guessed that Vulcans have their political dissenters, just like everyone else. Vulcans always seem so… so unified.”

T’Pree replies, “Yes, unfortunately Vulcan is not immune to socio-political conflict, even though many on Vulcan would prefer it to appear otherwise.”

“You were about to tell us what you knew about this Ca’Tau.” Damian prods.

T’Pree resumes, “In an earlier era, we would all be bowing down to S’Talla. The Ca’Tau were a race of fierce warriors originally from a group of islands near the equator. They were known to make their living raiding and terrorizing the coastal regions of the continents. At one time, over four thousand years ago, they conquered and ruled most of Vulcan for millennia. The Awakening of Surak ended their rule.

“The blue hued skin is very rare anymore. Only those few whose lineage can be traced back through their mother’s heritage to the Ca’Tau can have the trait. There is a pigment in the skin that absorbs yellow light, causing it to appear blue. It is thought that it helped protect those races that evolved where the Vulcan star’s rays reflected too strongly off the waters of Vulcan’s ocean’s on the blue end of the spectrum. Perhaps you have had a chance to visit the equatorial ocean and have seen how intensely blue it is?”

Charlie shook his head, “I didn’t even know Vulcan had an ocean. I thought it was all just hot desert and volcanic mountains. I would like to visit it, I think.”

“I think an Earthling would find it quite beautiful.” T’Pia assures Charlie.

T’Pree goes on, “The name is also of the Ca’Tau. Probably an old family name. The ‘S’-hyphen was originally a fourth form along with the masculine, feminine and neuter forums. It was reserved as the royal form in the old Oceanic tongues. It is no longer used, but the old Ca’Tau family lines retained its use for their daughters. The Ca’Tau were a matriarchal society as has been much of Vulcan, though that is too complicated to get into now. Vulcan males, …have their limitations.

“S’Talla must be a direct descendant of the empresses. That is probably why her parents had her raised in the priesthood, if she is, in fact, a member of the Order of Reason and Logic. The inherent volatility of the Ca’Tau would benefit from the intense mental discipline demanded of the monks. A monk of the Order is trained with much more intensity than the average Vulcan citizen. Playing a game of strategy against her, would require absolute attention. I would enjoy the opportunity to play her in a game of chess.”

Both Vulcans nod in agreement.

Damian leans forward eagerly, “I hope we do get that chance. What an opportunity.”

Charlie sighs in resignation.

***

S’Talla is sitting at a desk in the captain’s quarters. She has Admiral Syjak on the com screen.

“I thought you were dead.” The older admiral is saying. “The recording on the Vulcan news feed showed you baiting one of their birds-of-prey into returning fire as you maneuver into the shadow of another ship. The explosion, when their warship took the hit from both their own ship and the V5, makes it look like you sacrificed yourself and the V5 to save the space station. It had me convinced.”

“Thank you Admiral, the team performed perfectly and I had help from an old friend. I think we may have a new recruit.”

Syjak continued, “You are being portrayed as both a fallen hero and an anti-establishment criminal.

“I think this might offer us an opportunity to revise the original plan and go with a more independent course. I’ll see what I can do about getting your group access to the Vulcan Database. You’ll need it if you are going to be able to register the new long range private freight you have managed to acquire.”

S’Talla observed, “I see you have already started putting together a new plan.”

“Of course not.” Syjak objects, “I finished putting together this plan months ago.

“Now, tell me about your new member. The psychological profiles of the scientists working on the V5 indicates you should have a number of potential recruits. All of them are free of family commitments and without commitments after the project. I made sure those who were attached or were otherwise unsuitable, got shore leave just before your group boarded the station.”

S’Talla thinks for a moment, before following up, “She is an old friend from Earth, working on the learning algorithm for the computer system. She has already proved an invaluable asset. However, she is not trained for this kind of work. It would not be right to ask her to risk what the crew of the V5 will be risking, by joining in our mission.”

Admiral Syjak replies, “You must be referring to Doctor Samantha Kelly. Our profile indicates she is both creative and adventurous. Her tendency towards independent thinking is why she was selected as the head developer of the V5’s AI system.

“It has been my experience that certain individuals will emerge to thrive, no matter the training while still others, no matter the training, will never meet adversity well. It is not always logical, yet it sometimes is the case. Your concerns are well founded, however. I leave it to your judgment.

“I suggest you simply let her know what to expect, then allow her to make the choice. I have known a few Earthlings and they can be surprisingly adaptive. Conflict seems to hold a certain attraction for some of them. I’m sure you will make the right decision.

“Remember, we are trying to do what is best for Vulcan and the Federation. Gathering evidence against a Council member is delicate work and we are only a few.”

S’Talla answers, “That goal never leaves my mind. Live long and prosper, Admiral.

S’Talla out.”

“Live long and prosper, S’Talla. May Logic guide you.” Respondes Syjak.

***

S’Talla and Skyvik sit at opposite ends of the planning table in the briefing cabin. Ya and Ne are together on S’Talla’s right, Sadak is to her left, Sam is mid-side on S’Talla’s left with T’Pia and T’Pree filling out the rest of the seats.

The door chimes and S’Talla calls, “Enter.”

Charlie steps into the room. He looks determined. “I understand you are having a strategy meeting. If we are not prisoners, then I would like to sit in.”

S’Talla nods, “have a seat.”

Charlie moves to an empty spot next to Sam. Damian is right behind him and finds a seat on the opposite side.

S’Talla opens the discussion. “So that you are aware, we are no longer cloaked. The power drain from the cloaking technology will not allow for more than a day or so of cloaking, without drawing from the ship’s primary power supply. This means we are visible to Vulcan Defence Ministry ships and we have slowed our velocity to conserve power and recharge the device for the necessary passage into the Neutral Zone.

Since the Romulans and the Federation have evidence of our destruction, they will not be actively searching for us, but we can not take the chance of being discovered.

“Even though we are believed dead, we are now being characterized, by the official media channels, as terrorists. Perhaps individuals can make their way back to Vulcan and return to their lives, but for some of us, that option doesn’t exist.

“If it was learned that the V5-Beta survived, every civilization in this quadrant would believe that Vulcan violated its treaty with Romulus and the V5 would become a target to either steal or destroy. The nature of the V5 is not something the Council wants known to the public, nor to its enemies.

“From what I know of the corruption in the council, only their belief that we are already dead would be why they haven’t issued orders to destroy the V5 on sight. There will be no arrests nor trials that could embarrass the council members involved.

“I regret having brought the scientists, engineers and technicians working aboard the V5 to this unfortunate position. It is now necessary to consider our options for hiding the V5 and ourselves. If there is a way of returning crew members who wish to go back, we should discuss that, as well.

“I have managed to acquire administrative access to the Vulcan Central Database. If we can create a new ship registration, perhaps there is some hope that we will not be discovered.”

Charlie leans forward at S’Talla’s announcement about the Vulcan Database. He uncrosses his arms and loses his sullen expression to show some excitement. “Admin access to the Vulcan Database? We can hide anything with that. Seriously, I could create a whole new ship, crew, even a legitimate corporation under which to do business. No problem.”

S’Talla asks, “You are a skilled database programmer?”

“Oh yeah, I’ve been coding since I could say, ‘Computer, compile routine’.”

“Perhaps you would like to work with Ya and Ne on this project then. We have already made plans for playing the part of a private enterprise shipping and transportation company. All we need is to change some minor features of the appearance of the V5 and create a history of legitimate business. Just enough to satisfy a port of entry enquiry at some of the more remote federation outposts.”

“You’ll need a name.” Says Charlie, helpfully.

S’Talla lifts an eyebrow, “A name?”

“The ship will need a name. We can’t keep calling it the V5-Beta. You don’t want to remind people of the V5 from the battle at the station.”

“Vulcans are not in the habit of naming inanimate objects.” S’Talla informs Charlie.

Sam intervenes, “Charlie’s right. The ship needs a name precisely because Vulcans don’t usually name their ships. Humans and other races typically name their ships. It should be a name that lets people know this is not a Vulcan vessel.”

“It is a Vulcan ship. The Vahklas class starship is a well known Vulcan design. V5 is an appropriate designation for a fifth generation Vahklas class star cruiser. We can not hide that.” states S’Talla.

“True, but that’s why we need to give it a name that no Vulcan would name a ship. Register it under Human or Bynar or Andorian ownership, but…

“I got it!” Sam calls excitedly.

She pauses and everyone waits.

“Vulcan.”

Silence.

“What do you think? It’s perfect. You’ve heard of hiding in plain sight? To call the ship ‘Vulcan’ let’s people know we are not trying to hide. That we are celebrating the ship’s origins, even. Vulcan authority would find the name too illogical to be the ship they are looking for.”

“There is precedent for non-Vulcan owners of Vulcan built ships. The Vahklas class starship is actually quite popular as a retro-fitted commercial vessel. Perhaps it is not such a bad idea.” T’Pree confirms.

Charlie looks back and forth between the individuals discussing the problem.

Damian interjects, “Vulcan! I love it. Sam and Charlie are right. T’Pree points out it is not uncommon. That’s what we need. Something that is unexpected, yet common enough to not stand out. The name is kind of odd, but I think that works in our favor.”

S’Talla asks, “Since everyone is using plural possesive pronouns, am I to take it that I am talking to the Vulcan’s new crew?”

Everyone looks to everyone else and Damian speaks out as he shugs, “I guess so.”

Vulcan and Human heads nod in agreement.

T’Pree clarifies, “As long as the ‘Vulcan’ is a ship of exploration and science, and not a ship of violence.”

Agreement circles the table.

Then you should know, this is a sanctioned Vulcan Defense Ministry mission. The Vulcan, is more aptly named than you might think. Our mission is to expose, just as I have said, evidence of corruption within the High Counsel as well as to locate and secure a powerful weapon of mass destruction that is in danger of falling into the hands of Romulus just when they are conducting reunification talks. Neither Vulcan, nor the Federation, can allow a people who have a history and policy of empirical expansion to possess such a weapon. It is uncertain yet, as to the honesty of Romulus’ openness for reuniting with Vulcan. Either the reports of this weapon are false and Romulus is truly interested in reunification or their consideration for reunification is a ruse to maneuver Vulcan into a weaker position for conquest. It is part of our mission to discover which.

Charlie, leans forward and puts his hand out, signaling S’Talla to stop. “Reunification with Romulus? What’s that mean?”

“Romulus and Vulcan were, at one time, a single species of Vulcan. After the Awakening and Vulcan embraced the way of Logic, there were those who would not follow the logical path to peace. Unable to reestablish the old ways through civil war, the ancestors of the Romulans left Vulcan to build a new empire on Romulus and later its sister planet, you humans know as Remus.” interjects T’Pree, helpfully. “Vulcan was just in its Atomic Age, at the time.”

Mister Sadek continues the explanation, “The war set both sides back technologically, but it took the new civilization over a millennium to recover enough to start their planetary expansion.

“Both sides had lost the records of where Romulans originally came from. It wasn’t until Romulus developed warp technology, about the same time as Earth’s, and some new archeological discoveries, here on Vulcan, that this past history had become known for certain.”

Sadek interjects, “Vulcan is two centuries ahead of Romulus, technologically. It is important to gather an accurate understanding of their motives for seeking to reunite with Vulcan.”

Randool Harrix asks, “You say they are behind Vulcan in their technology. But they have cloaking technology that, apparently, Vulcan hasn’t had until this ship?”

S’Talla answers, “The working theory is that Romulan cloaking technology is alien in origin. The Romulans have either found it, stolen it or it was given to them by a more advanced race.”

“And, Vulcan cloaking technology came from…?” asks Damian.

S’Talla responds, “I am not able to say.”

Damian pushes, “Meaning you don’t know or you won’t tell us?”

S’Talla doesn’t respond, she just looks at him with a neutral expression.

“I see. Well, that is answer enough, for now.”

S’Talla addresses the rest of the room, “There are aspects to this mission that are too sensitive to discuss casually. I am glad you have chosen to join in our goals, but complete trust will need to be earned over time. I ask all of you not to talk about the specifics that we have discussed in this room, with other crew, until they have pledged themselves to the general mission of keeping the Vulcan out of military hands, the discovery and exposure of corruption within the Vulcan High Council, with the addition of the V5’s official mission of seeking out first contact and peaceful technological exchange with other warp capable worlds.”

All heads nod in agreement.

The ship’s computer voice announces, “Captain S’talla, be aware, there is a Vulcan Defence Ministry vessel, bearing 331 point 879 mark 317 point 116, on an intercept course, 5.7593 light years away. At our current velocity, we will be within hailing frequency range in seven hours, twenty-eight minutes and nine seconds. Interception will be in thirty five hours, forty-two minutes, three point six…”

“Bridge to Captain S’Talla.” The overhead com interrupts.

“S’Talla here.”

“Long range sensors are picking up a Vulcan Defense Ministry vessel 5.75 light years away. We will intersect in thirty-five hours, forty-one minutes and twenty-eight seconds.”

“Thank you for the update. Cut to sub-light speed until I get to the bridge. If they change to a new intercept vector, please let me know. S’Talla out.”

“Ya and Ne, you and Charlie get started immediately. I need a registration for the Vulcan. Make her two years old. We are a small private freight and import/export company. I am sure you can come up with a basic and unremarkable history.

“Who has worked on the Vulcan’s sensors? I am no expert, but I believe we are beyond the range of most VDM ships.”

“That would be I.” answers T’Perl. “You are correct in your belief. The Vulcan’s sensors are 1.7622 times more powerful than standard VDM ships. I had been told that as a ship of deep space exploration, the high resolution, long range sensors are cutting edge Vulcan technology. I have worked on VDM ships and it is unlikely that we will be in range of their sensors for another 2.6 hours at sub-light speed.”

“Thank you.” S’Talla then asks, “Your name is Dr. T’Perl?”

“That is correct.”

S’Talla turns to Charlie, “You and Ya and Ne have two and a half hours to register the Vulcan and create a history. If Sam doesn’t object, register it in her name. Her parents work and live on Vulcan, so it is no stretch that she might acquire a Vulcan ship and name it Vulcan. Her commercial enterprise need not be that remarkable, since she has strong ties to both Earth and Vulcan. A passage history should show several small jobs running supplies and goods between Earth, Vulcan and nearby star systems. We should not appear remarkably successful nor in debt.

Feel free to work anywhere you will be the most productive.”

“Yes Captain.” Charlie answers. He then turns to the two Bynars.

They both nodded, “That should be…” started Ya. “ample time.”, finishes Ne.

Both the Bynars and Charlie rise from the table and exit to the bridge, Charlie suggesting they work in his quarters because he has a VR gaming system that is responsive to 10 nano seconds.

S’Talla looks around the table. “Anything further?”

No immediate response.

“I will establish a regular schedule and let you know as soon as I have toured the ship and rounded on the rest of the crew.”

***
Engineering, storage bay 4. A sign on the door that says, ‘NO UNAUTHORIZED ENTRY’. S’Talla tries to enter, but the door doesn’t open.

“Computer, open Engineering, storage bay 4.”

The computer replies, “Storage bay 4 has been secured from unauthorized entry. Would you like to override security, Captain S’Talla?”

“Yes.”

The door slides open.

Inside, the bay has been converted to a laboratory. There are electronics with blinking lights and glowing crystals, coiled disks with floating objects above them; there is even a model of the Vulcan planetary system suspended near the high vaulted ceiling. A lightning bolt flashes out from the central star and strikes the floor just in front of S’Talla, as she enters.

S’Talla pauses and looks around. A man in a lab coat, with wild silver hair, is working at a bench, his back to the door. He doesn’t look around. There is a very skinny young Human black woman, her unruly hair cut in a bowl cut, shaved around the ears, trying, carefully and unsuccessfully, to get his attention. She has a data tablet in her hand. She seems frazzled and worried. She glances at S’Talla stepping into the bay, then back to the Vulcan leaning over his work. Her tentative attempt to tap his shoulder ends before she makes contact. She is also dressed in a lab coat and quickly pulls her eye protection down over her eyes when a flash of blue light emanates from the bench in front of the man.

S’Talla waits for the flashes of light and electrical buzzing to stop before interjecting, “I am sorry to interrupt, but I am here as the captain to survey the ship and meet the crew. Are you aware of the situation? You know we are not at the space station anymore?!”

The man doesn’t stop working. The intense blue light flashes on the bench in front of him again. He hardly seems to acknowledge S’Talla with a clipped response, “No unauthorized entry. You haven’t been authorized. Besides Doctor Gödel and myself, no one is authorized.”

S’Talla states, “I am the new captain. My name is S’Talla. You must be Professor Kazzak, the eminent Gravitronic Scientist.”

“I’m busy.” he replies without stopping his work. Blue light flashes from the bench before him, along with electrical snaps and buzzing.

“I believe you and Doctor Gödel were given shore leave, why are you not back on Vulcan?”

The skinny assistant, Doctor Gödel, nervously stutters, “w-w-w-we w-w-w-want-want-wanted to fin-finish th-th-th-this ex-ex-experi-expiriment.”

“We have been in a battle with a Romulan birds-of-prey. You may not be aware that we have left space-dock and are now heading towards the Neutral Zone.” S’Talla informs the professor and Doctor Gödel.

The professor answers, “Yes, I know. We dropped to impulse speed 21.75 minutes ago. I presume, to avoid a confrontation of some sort, since there is nothing in this region of space, with the possible exception of another ship. We are still too close to Vulcan for a secret spy rendezvous, so you seek to avoid detection from Vulcan Defense ships.”

S’Talla asks, “You believe we are on a secret mission?”

The Professor finally turns around, flipping up his goggles to the top of his forehead. “You are not the officially assigned captain or you would be in a VDM uniform. This ship is obviously not for scientific exploration or the Romulan attack would not have concentrated its efforts on just our construction bay. Most telling is that we are alive. Therefore, this is a spy ship and you are a spy, I’ve known other monks who have been recruited by the OSS. Most likely, you are to spy on the Romulans.

“As to your question, Francesca has answered accurately, we have an important experiment to finish, so run along and play your secret agent games somewhere else. And, would you be so kind as to hand me that Terascope before you go.”

“Professor, I need you to know that we are being accused of terrorism and theft of government property, back on Vulcan. However, we are believed destroyed in the Romulan attack, so we are traveling disguised as a commercial freighter. The name of our, now, two year old vessel is Vulcan.” S’Talla informs the professor, as she scans a bench nearby.

The professor turns back around, his goggles back in place, he does not bother to raise them again. “Fascinating. You have managed to enter the “Vulcan” in the Central Database?

“I like the name, only a Human would have come up with such a name. You have registered the ship under a Human owner?” He asks.

“That is correct.” S’Talla confirms. She picks up an instrument from a nearby bench and hands it to Professor Kazzak. He turns back around to start again on his experiment.

“Professor, I have offered to put anyone planet-side and arrange a return to Vulcan, who wishes it. Otherwise, they are welcome to join in our mission to prevent the V5-Beta from being used to escalate aggression between Vulcan and Romulus and to locate and secure a mythical super weapon.”

“How maZny have accepted your offer?”

“I have not yet met all aboard, but everyone, thus far.” S’Talla answers. “I can not say how soon we will be able to arrange a return to Vulcan, but it will be as soon as it is safe.”

“Safe? You are heading for the Neutral Zone. Regardless, leave me to my work and I will not ask to be set off-ship. My work is here.”

He waves the Terascope imperiously, “You may continue with your secret mission. If you find this “mythical super-weapon, you must come back and show it to me.”

Kazzak returns to working.

S’Talla stands for a moment watching, then leaves.

Sam is just striding up to the doors looking for S’Talla. “I was hoping to be with you when you met the professor. He is fairly anti-social and I thought you might need someone he knew, when you meet him.”

“I found him refreshing and surprisingly perspicacious.” answers S’Talla.

“Professor Kazzak? That Vulcan wouldn’t notice if the ship disintegrated around him.”

“He has focus and dedication.”

“That is true. I take it he is also joining our crew?” asks Sam.

“He is staying, yes.” answers S’Talla.

The two friends walk together to the turbo lift.

***

Charlie and the two Bynars were standing in a circle, each with a VR headset on. They were in Charlie’s room. It was a little on the messy side, clothes laying in a heap at the foot of the bed, dishes from breakfast on the table, his closet door opened with some clothes half off their hangers.

Charlie says, “Are we going to be able to give the Vulcan a face-lift? Captain S’Talla mentioned something like that.”

Both Ya and Ne ask simultaneously, “face-lift, the V5 has no face to lift?!”

“Cosmetic surgery. Early cosmetic surgery involved tightening the skin on the face by pulling upwards. You know, to pull the wrinkles out. It made you look younger. So cosmetic surgery is often called a face lift.”

Ya and Ne looked at each other through their VR visors and laugh.

Ya says, “Earthlings are very funny people.”

Ne adds, “Perhaps we can go study on Earth once we are finished on Vulcan.”

Charlie, looking a little sheepish, asks, “So how are we going to give the Vulcan a face-lift?”

Ya answers, “There is a private space station called Halla Station,”
Ne finishes, “just on the edge of the Neutral Zone.”

“Inside the Neutral Zone?”

“Affirmative.” The Bynars chorus.

“Alright!? So, what color do we make her? The Vulcan needs a new color scheme. I presume we can get her a new coat of paint while we are there, so I was thinking Blue and Silver. Maybe some custom pin-striping in purple? What do you think?

The two Bynars look at each other through the VR headsets. “It will look good,” said Ya. “… or not”, finished Na.

Charlie shakes his head, “All right, blue and silver with a purple racing stripe.” He waves his hands and mimes molding and brushing. “How’s it look?”

All three see a rotating 3D model of the V5-Beta as a solid hologram between them. It had changed from its dark grey color scheme, to a more cheerful bright blue, silver and white with a rich purple stripe curving over her hull. Vulcan is painted in white on blue along the forward sensor arms with the hull number V5-B373 in smaller letters underneath.

They all three nod in approval.

Ya speaks, “Ya to bridge.”

“Bridge here.”

Na asks, “What is the projected time to reach the Neutral Zone?”

“Is this Na? Is this the same communication as Ya or is that a different question?”

The Bynars both speak in unison, “We ask together, two as one.”

The response has a ring of ceremony in it.

“We have dropped out of warp. I do not know when the Captain will order us to resume. We are currently four days, seven point three-nine hours from the Neutral Zone at a standard cruising speed of Warp four. Shall I inform you when I get an update?”

“Yes, please do. We need to set the timing for our data changes so there is no conflict, should we be stopped before then.”

“Very well. I will let you know as soon as I know. Bridge out.”

Charlie gives the two Bynars a thumbs up.

***
S’Talla and Sam enter the bridge.

“Captain on the bridge.” Calls out Sadek, who is seated at the shields station. No one interrupts their tasks except Skyvik, who stands from his seat in the command chair.

“Report.” S’Talla commands simply.

“We are on course, at impulse speed, for sector 6. The VDM vessel has not changed heading, however we will be in sensor range in two point five-three hours, if no change in velocity.

There is a second VDM vessel at zero-eight- seven mark two-nine-one. They are on a tangential vector that should not bring them within sensor range. However, the flight paths of the two vessels would indicate a level one search grid.”

S’Talla takes the com. “Thank you Mister Skyvik.

“Thoughts?” She asks.

Skyvik elaborates, “If they are executing a level one search pattern, then it is likely someone believes we have survived or they are looking for something else.”

“It is logical that they may be looking for us.” S’Talla extrapolates. “I have been in touch with the Admiral. I am sure he has contacted the Counselor. There are a number of possible leaks. We will know for certain if we come across a third ship that conforms to the search pattern.”

S’Talla presses the communications button on the com arm, “S’Talla to Ya.”

The turbo-lift doors open, “Ya here, Captain.”replies Ya, as the two Bynars and Charlie exit the lift.

S’Talla turns her chair, “You have finished?”

“Yes.” answers Ya.

“Entries are complete” says Ne.

Charlie interjects, “All except for the cosmetic surgery. We have not changed the physical description of the V5 and we will need to change our hull number.

Ya explains, “We dare not enter any obvious discrepancy.”

Na finished, “In case we meet a patrol between here and the Halla Station.”

“You have made Ms. Kelly the owner and principal of the Vulcan transport business?”

Charlie answers, “Yes, it is named ‘The Vulcan Enterprises’ after the ship. The Vulcan Enterprises mostly involves itself in the import and export of goods between Vulcan and Earth systems with a few small side jobs outside Federation space. We have run independent contracts for everyone from Andorian to Xindi. Our primary enterprise in shipping and transport, but we have been involved with towing and salvage, even small scale mining and security patrol. We should have enough historical precedence to explain almost any course or region we might find ourselves in.

“Everything is in place except the physical changes. So it is best not to get pulled over until we’re sporting our new make-over.”

S’Talla lifts one eyebrow, “‘Pulled over?'”

“You know, stopped by the police… ah… the authorities. It’s an old reference to road traffic enforcement when you pulled your vehicle over to the side of the road to receive a ticket for an infraction.” explains Charley.

“We will try to avoid getting “pulled over.”

The Vulcan’s computer announces, “A third VDM vessel is reading on long range sensors, bearing 177 mark 169, approaching at warp factor five.”

S’talla asks the computer, “Computer, what is the operating status of our cloak?”

The computer responds, “The cloaking device is working within expected design parameters. Dedicated power cells are at sixty-nine point seven five percent of capacity and should provide twenty eight point three one five hours of operation. Power cells will be charged to full capacity in nine-point-three-three hours.”

S’Talla turns to. Ne and Ya who have taken their stations at navigation and weapons, “plot a course around the patrols, at warp three point eight.”

Charlie asks, “Why go so slow? We should be able to get past their sensor range in plenty of time at warp 7 and the cloaking device has its own power supply.”

The Bynars turn to Charlie and Ya answers, “We can not travel over warp four without violently distorting the warp field…” Na finishes, “…and leaving a trail of neutrinos that will point right at us.”

S’Talla further explains, “We don’t have enough energy to pass outside their farthest sensor range without detection, unless we can pass an incoming ship and effectively use their speed to reduce our time to the edge of their rear sensors. Na will lay a course that will attempt to get us far enough out that, when we uncloak, we will appear to be normal traffic at the edge of their sensor range. It will be more likely that we will be considered a low probability target and too far away to divert the sweep pattern for.”

Sam asks, “What if there are more ships?”

Skyvik answers, “There will be seven ships involved in a level one search. Their pattern will follow a logical and predictable configuration designed to cover 95 percent of the search area with 83 percent effective coverage. With the location of three of the vessels, it is possible to anticipate the movements of the other four. There will be gaps, but not many and not for long.”

Sam nods in understanding.

“Course and speed” announces Ya.

“… laid in.” Finishes Na.

“Captain.” Choruses Ya and Na together.

“Mr. Skyvik, how long until we cross within their sensor zones?” Asks S’Talla of her first officer.

“Forty-one minutes, eleven seconds.” The large Vulcan answers.

Looking over at Sam, S’Talla says, “Let’s test your ship’s intelligence.” She addresses the ship’s computer. “Computer, calculate the optimum speed, and course for the maximum period of time for cloaking the ship from the sensors of the Vulcan Defense Ministry Vessels that allows us to cross their search area undetected and take us to the Halla Space Station.”

The computer answers, “Calculating…, a heading of two-forty-seven point one nine mark three-twenty-nine point one one at warp three point nine eight, will take the Vulcan ninety-seven point seven percent of the distance across the search field before dedicated power cells are depleted.”

“Computer,” S’Talla asks, “how long will the Vulcan appear on the sensors of the VDM ships before we are out of range again?”

The computer answers immediately, “One hundred-fifty-one point six five seconds.”

S’Talla looks to Skyvik. Skyvik turns to the console and adjusts the controls. He then peers into the tactical viewer. “Affirmative. That correlates with Ya’s calculations and appears to be the best we can do. Might I suggest we go to warp eight the moment we are visible again?”

S’Talla asks, “Computer, if we go to warp eight, as soon as cloaking is shut down, how long will we be visible to the VDM vessels?”

“Twelve point nine three seconds.”

S’Talla says to the crew, “That will have to do.”

The computer interrupts, “Going to warp five point five once the Vulcan is seventy-six percent across the sensor field will allow the Vulcan to remain completely undetected by the sensors.”

“What about the neutrino wake above warp four?” S’Talla asks.

The computer explains, “At seventy-six percent of the transverse of the VDM sensor field, Standard VDM sensors will not be capable of detecting the elevated neutrino output.”

“What is the margin of error?” S’Talla asks.

“There is a twelve point five percent chance that a course change by one of the VDM ships will expand this part of the search field. The Vulcan may become visible for a maximum of six hundred-thirty-two point nine seconds.”

“Thank you, computer. Please let me know of any changes.”

“Affirmative.” The computer responds.

“Ya, make it so.”

“Aye captain.” responds Ya, simply.

S’Talla turns to Charlie, “Thank you for your help, Mr. Chang. I know you feel like you have no choice, but I am not interested in kidnapping you or anyone else. You don’t need to plot an insurrection with the other scientists. If you wish to be returned to Vulcan, I will make sure you find your way there. If you would prefer to return to Earth, I’m sure we can manage to do that too. However, I welcome your presence aboard the Vulcan. Your have skills that have proven helpful. I have had a chance to read through your files and I am very impressed.

“Yeah, thanks. I guess I am starting to believe you are who you say you are. I don’t really have anything else I’m doing. My commission was almost over and I didn’t have anything setup to do next.” Charlie answers. “None of my friends from the academy are doing anything nearly so exciting. So I can give it a shot for a while.”

“Good. If you and Sam will join me in the conference room, I want to see this cosmetic surgery you mentioned. I also want to talk to you about the structure of Vulcan Enterprises, to make sure we are all working under the same expectations.” S’Talla explains.

The three of them enter the planning room.

***
Getting Pulled Over

“S’Talla, you are needed on the bridge.” The com voice of T’Pia hales the captain who is sitting at a table on the mess deck talking with Sam and Charlie.

“We should be across the VDM search field and inside the Neutral Zone by now.” S’Talla tells her companions. Sam, Chang, I will see you on the bridge. And, thank you for your help, both of you have been invaluable.”

S’Talla walks out through the auto doors.

“Chang? I thought your name was Charlie?” asks Sam.

“Chang is my family name. Sanfeng is my given name, but I’ve been Charlie since I started at the Academy. Captain S’Talla said she has read my file. Don’t tell me Sam’s your real name.”

“It’s short for Samantha. Let’s go find out what’s going on. We can’t be at Halla Station yet.” Sam picks up her coffee cup and carries it to the recyclers. Charlie meets her at the door to head for the bridge.

On the bridge S’Talla is explaining to the Romulan Captain on the screen that they are simply picking up a passenger who’s ship was damaged and left him stranded on a private space station. He didn’t intend to enter the Neutral Zone and so contacted Vulcan Enterprises to give him a lift back to Vulcan.

The captain of the Romulan Bird of Prey looks suspicious. “Perhaps you are spys looking to learn Romulan military tactics.”

“Vulcan is not at war with Romulus. While I understand the Neutral Zone is forbidden for both Humans and Romulans to enter,” S’Talla emphasized ‘Romulans’, “the Federation of Planets steers clear mostly as a courtesy in support of their members and to avoid unnecessary conflict.

Vulcan Enterprises is a multi-species corporation with no political or species interests. If you had access to the Federation or Vulcan Databases, you could easily see that we are simply a private enterprise in pursuit of our established trade.”

The Romulan captain turns to speak with one of his technicians. “The Romulan Empire has gained access to the Vulcan Database, has it not?”

“Yes captain, we decrypted the database a year ago.” Came the reply.

The captain smiled, “Search it for references to Vulcan Enterprises, then.” The Romulan Captain turns back to the screen. “We are the Romulan Royal Star Navy, of course we have access to your database.” He pauses and his eyes shift back and forth as he’s reading.

“Is the owner of The Vulcan Enterprises aboard? A… Sa man tha Kelly?”

“I am, captain.” answers Sam, stepping up beside her friend and captain. Sam still had on her civilian clothes. In the context of the owner of a private business, her outfit suggested power and independence as well as comfort and confidence with her femininity. Sam’s red hair was styled in a short neat cut, parted on the left.

The Romulan captain glances back down to confirm. “You are Human and you own a Vulcan ship?”

Kelly spreads her hands out in a gesture of openness and honesty, “I was raised on Vulcan and purchased the Vahklas class ship when it was being retired after some minor damage in an asteroid field. It seemed like it would make a serviceable small freighter, once I had it repaired and modified.

If you or any associates have need of some discrete, custom shipping, I hope you will consider The Vulcan Enterprises. There’s nowhere we won’t go.” That last sentence was said like a catchphrase in a commercial.

The Romulan captain is quiet for a moment while he studies his readout.

“You are picking up this passenger from where exactly?”

“Halla Station, Captain.” Sam answers simply.

“What is this passenger’s name, then.” The Romulan presses.

Kelly looks coy, “Captain, I am happy to answer any questions about my business, personal or commercial that you might find necessary to ask me, in order to satisfy the job I know you have to do. I understand commanding a ship in the Romulan Royal Space Navy has its demands. My own enterprise, however, relies heavily on my ability to be discrete. I can not make a living if my customers thought their affairs were open to public record should they hired my ship and crew. One day, you or one of your associates might have legitimate reason to ship with us. You wouldn’t want your shipping company to just spread the news of your business to anyone who asks?”

“This is not “anyone” asking; this is the Royal Star Navy asking.” responds the Romulan captain harshly.

“Of course, you are right. That is why it is so important to cooperate with you. You are important people on important business. Your business must be especially important for you to venture into the Neutral Zone, and The Vulcan Enterprises respects that. The last thing we want to be involved in is an interplanetary incident.

“But, think of this as an opportunity, Captain. I have the opportunity to improve my company’s reputation as a reliable and discrete private contractor and you have the opportunity to establish a relationship with a company that can acquire unique goods and be a reliable choice for your future extra-curricular needs.

“You know who we are, you know where we are going and for what. My client’s name is really unimportant.”

The captain thinks a moment, then acquiesces, “Very well. We will be watching you and, perhaps, you will be hearing from someone in the very near future.”

Skyvik announces, “The Romulan ship has ceased its scans and powered down their weapons. They are moving off towards their side of the Neutral Zone.”

S’Talla asks, “I am afraid I am having trouble understanding how your particular logic worked. I was having a difficult time following it.”

Sam answers, “It wasn’t the logic, but the conclusion that interested the good captain. He didn’t care how we got there.”

“Why did you not simply give the captain a name?” asks S’Talla.

“I didn’t know it and I didn’t know anything about Halla Station or whether the Romulans had access to their passenger manifests.” replies Sam. “Besides, it seemed more realistic to withhold that information. Someone who’s trying to hide from the Romulans wouldn’t do something to bring more scrutiny upon them.”

S’Talla states, “I don’t think The Vulcan Enterprises wants to develop a relationship with a captain in the Romulan Royal Star Navy.”

“We do if it keeps them from looking at us too closely.” Sam answers.

“It will bring us into closer scrutiny.” S’Talla points out.

“Not so.” Sam reassures her friend. “One doesn’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”

“I do not know that saying.” S’Talla tells Sam.

“It means you don’t want to look for defects in a gift if it means you will discover something that will be a problem before you have had a chance to benefit from it.”

“Now that is logic I can follow.

“If we are to do business as a private company, it would be best if the crew retire their uniforms for a more comfortable style of work clothes. It would not have gone well if any of the crew, in their official technician’s uniforms, had been seen by the Romulans.”

S’Talla takes her seat in the captain’s chair.

“Ya, Let us go onward.” S’Talla presses her opened hands together, tips to tips and gestures a subtle pointing of her fingers forward.

***
WITH Halla station in visual range, a disk shaped space station with a pointed center cone making it look akin to an old Earth Viking shield surrounded by various sizes spacecraft, S’Talla opened and updated the Captain’s Log, letting her crew maneuver into drydock for the planned modifications.

“Captain’s Log, stardate: 3781 point 2.
The V5-Bata, under her new name, Vulcan, arrived at Halla Station where we will be picking up one more member of our crew, arranged by Operations, and having some cosmetic modifications done to complete the Vulcan’s transformation into its new roll.

The new volunteer crew is performing well. Our total compliment, after eight scientists and technicians have decided to return to Vulcan, will be eighteen. I am hopeful that my mission will not last more than a year, but we will ready the ship for extended operation and be looking for a commission for Vulcan Enterprises to perpetuate our cover story.”

************************************************
End E1S1
************************************************
__________________________________
Characters:
Samantha (Sam) Kelly (Earthling) S’Talla’s childhood friend and AI learning development scientist. Company Owner and acting helmsman.
S’Talla (Vulcan) Monk and special ops leader, ship’s captain.
Skyvik (Vulcan) special ops combat specialist, first officer.
Ya & Ne (Bynars) special ops information technology specialists and honorary members of the Vulcan Temple of Perfect Logic, weapons & shields (Ne) and pilot & navigation (Ya), computer programmers.
lieutenant Stolk (Vulcan)
5 Vulcan soldiers.
Master Sparoe, somber Vulcan monk and young S’Talla’s teacher.
Two Vulcan security defenders.
4 Vulcan space combat pilots.
6 Romulan soldiers.
4 Romulan spacewalkers.
Station Commander Spaech (Vulcan).
Admiral Syjak (Vulcan).
Commander Skaul (Vulcan), Admiral Syjak’s executive assistant.
Lieutenant Stolk (Vulcan).
The V5-Beta Hull #: V5-R373 (modified Vahklas-5 Starcruiser).
T’Pia, 46q year old Vulcan female, Project’s technical leader, and Warp Travel Engineer. She had Charlie working directly with her on the warp drive.
T’Rai, Vulcan High Cousel member (69 year old Vulcan female).
Spynark – Well known Vulcan investigative reporter for the Vulcan News Media (VNM). Spynark is a dispassionate and relentless investigator and reporter dedicated to informing the Vulcan public of concerning events off planet, within and outside the Federation. He travels with a camera technician named T’Pose and a robot drone camera. His vessel is called VNM1, after the media network call sign for whom he works.
Chang Sanfeng (Charlie) – 22 year old Human intern working with T’Pia on the warp drives. He has a PhD in astro-physics with a focus on curved space and warp travel. Charlie is nerdy and interested in computer gaming, especially retro games. He is a brilliant programmer, but unfamiliar with the Vulcan’s analogue architecture. As an orphaned child, he was sent to be educated in a traditional Shaolin Temple where he learned Tai Chi Chuan and Kung Fu. He eventually is invited to teach S’Talla his moving meditation forms. Skyvik begins teaching him Vulcan martial arts. S’Talla becomes impressed enough to consent to sparring with him and teaching Charlie her Vulcan Temple martial arts.
Sadek – 37 year old Vulcan Male technician, on board the V5-Beta to run final tests on the Vulcan’s shielding systems. He is part of the Coalition.
T’Pree – 31 year old female Vulcan technician working on the transporter system.
Damian Apollonias – 29 year old Human technician working on the emergency backup power systems. He is fascinated with Vulcan philosophy.
T’Perl – Vulcan technician working on the sensor arrays and weapons targeting systems.
Randool Harrix – 35 year old Tiburonian male, mechanical engineer.
Professor Kazzak (120 year old Vulcan male) Gavitronic Scientist. He is an eccentric Vulcan with a highly focused mind for his speciality. Wears goggles to protect his eyes during his constant experiments.
Dr. Francesca Gödel, 34 year old Human black female. Assistant to Professor Kazzak. Doctorates in Multi-variable non-Euclidean Geometry and Theoretical Gravitics. Stutters when nervous.
Halla Station: private space station just inside the Neutral Zone. The owner, Vakol niGhaup is Involved in both legal security services and illegal smuggling trade.
Vulcan Defense Ministry (VDM): The central organization of the Vulcan plantary defense (the military).

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