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Caleb System: United Federation of Planets

Stardate: 54512.7

T'les rolled over in bed. A pair of fingers gently pulled away the dark strands of hair covering her ears and then began softly massaging her lobes from the tip of the points down. In her sleepy haze, the hint of a smile poked out from the corner of her mouth, but she quickly repressed the emotion as her senses fully awoke.

"I would be quite impressed if your anatomical training included the little known fact that ears are an erogenous zone to Vulcan females," she said opening her eyes and glancing up at the shirtless man lying next to her.

"You'd be amazed what you can pick from a good textbook," Katan smiled as he continued to stroke her lobes. After a few more seconds of illogical pleasure, T'les sat up and pulled her long hair behind her shoulders. Though most Vulcan women kept it traditionally bobbed, she wore it long as her own personal sign of freedom.

"Kinzo," she said betraying nothing on her stoic face. "The past few weeks have been quite enjoyable. However, I must now know what your intentions are. Do you consider this relationship merely an outlet for carnal release or do you seek something more?"

"Wow," Doctor Katan said quite surprised. "I wasn't aware that we reached the point where we had to define things just yet."

"You must understand," she said stepping out of bed. "Vulcans generally do not engage in frivolous sexual encounters. When our species is pair bonded, we only have monogamous relations once every seven years. Though I have found more frequent coitus to be quite enjoyable,I would desire more romantic gestures if we continue this course of behavior."

Kinzo found himself distracted by the fact that she was standing in front of him completely nude. She looked down at her body and then back at him.

"Is the fact that I lack garments making it difficult for you to concentrate on my sentiments?" she asked cocking her head to one side.

"A little bit," Katan said with a slight blush.

"Fascinating," T'les said. "I guess it is true that the males of most humanoid species react to visual stimuli."

"Are you saying Vulcan males don't?" Katan asked chuckling.

"Vulcan males only have the drive to mate during Pon Farr. Otherwise, they refrain from unnecessary fantasies. As a physician, I am surprised you do not already know that."

"I'm sorry, T'les," Katan said pushing himself up to a seated position. "Actually, I've never been with a non-telepath before. Normally, this conversation plays out up here without a lot of talking," he said pointing to his head.

"Your assessment is only half correct, Doctor," she said. "The logical solution is clear. May I have your thoughts?" She said holding out her fingers.

"Well," he said with a shrug. "Considering I already have access to yours, it only seems fair."

"Good," she said walking over and kneeling on the bed in front of him. She rested back on her legs and placed her chest directly in front of Katan's face. His breathing instantly quickened. "This process is far more effective if you are relaxed," she said with an exasperated expression. "ALL parts of you," she said looking down towards the sheets.

"Sorry, sorry," he said blushing again with a smile and shifting his waist. She reached up with her hands. Gently, she placed her thumbs under his chin and rested her fingers on his cheeks.

"A word of warning," she said before beginning. "I am not as practiced in this art as more senior Vulcans. I am not as proficient at…hiding things…as they are. I would not attempt this if I didn't think you could endure it, but if it becomes too much, please ask to stop immediately.

"I understand," Katan said sensing her trepidation. "It's alright. I'm ready," he nodded.

"My mind to your mind…" she whispered. "My thoughts to your thoughts…"

Katan inhaled sharply as he instantly sensed a mental connection so powerful it was overwhelming even for a Betazoid. He wasn't just experiencing the thoughts currently in her head, but a sea of images and feelings from the repressed emotions of her entire life:

"I'm a seven year old girl. I don't want this. I'm standing in a darkened stone building. I'm wearing an uncomfortable dress my mother made put on. I don't like it. I'm frightened. There are many people here I don't know. A strange man and woman walk up. They have a boy I've never seen with them. The strange man and woman say something to Mommy and Daddy. My parents nod. The boy reaches up to put his hand on my face. I turn away. I'm afraid! Daddy grabs my head and holds it so hard I cannot move. It hurts. The boy touches my face…

I am now an adult. I know what is coming but I have traveled as far away from Vulcan as I can. Maybe he won't be able to reach me out here. I am in Engineering working with Mr. Scharr. Suddenly, I feel a burning rage enter my mind. It's him! It's Saren. The strange little boy has grown into an evil man. I want him out of mind! He is so angry. It frightens me to my core. I want him out! GET OUT OF MIND! I AM SUPPOSED TO BE SAFE IN MY MIND...

I'm a standing in Saren's ancestral marriage grounds. This is supposed to be my wedding day but all I am is afraid. I do not want to live like this. I don't want a monster like Saren in my life. I have asked for the challenge, the Kunat Kalifee. All my new family on the Pershing wants to fight for my freedom. I choose the one I respect the most. Mr. Scharr will fight for me. If he doesn't win, I don't want to live…"

Katan gasped as the meld broke. He stared up at T'les. She was shivering and a tear had formed in the corner of her eye. She steadied herself as she wiped it away.

"I had no idea," Katan said as he still felt her raw emotions. "I'm so sorry, T'les."

She cleared her throat.

"Now that you know the whole truth, if you no longer wish to carry on with our relationship, I understand," as her cool, Vulcan demeanor fully returned.

Katan took a deep breath and grabbed her hands in his. Gently, he placed them back on his face. Then, he used all the mental strength he could muster to send an image to T'les:

"We are standing together in a meadow next to Lake Cataria on Betazed. It is the most beautiful spring day either of us has ever experienced. Warm breezes and the smell of millions of flowers surround us. I smile at you. Then, I reach down and pick a toyar blossom from the ground. I hand it to you. You wish you could smile back at me, but your Vulcan discipline forbids it. Then, I whisper into your pointed ear:

'I understand your past, but it does not define you. I still want to be with you. I want to be the good thing in your life. I want to make you happy. I want to try…'"

The meld broke apart again. Both of them gasped. Katan looked up at T'les. His eyes begged for an answer. Her Vulcan reserve finally failed and a small smile emerged from her face.

"I desire to try as well…" she replied.

****

Down the corridor in her quarters, Captain Geist was getting dressed for the day. As she pulled on her red undershirt, her holoscreen broadcast the morning FNS news in the background:

"Welcome back to 'Federation Today,' I'm your host, Karla Greensburg. Now, back to the ongoing story surrounding disgraced Starfleet Captain, now General of the Klingon Defense Forces, Daniel Tigranian. My first guest is the Federation Councilor from Ardana, Vraska Vanna, who yesterday proposed legislation in the Council that would suspend the Treaty of Alliance with the Klingon Empire pending the results of her committee's formal investigation into the Klingon government's involvement with Tigranian's career."

"Thanks for having me on, Karla," Councilor Vanna said via subspace link. Annabeth took a break from adjusting her captain's pips to cast one eye at the screen.

"Joining her is the Federation Councilor from Andoria, Ter'chan Charassak, who introduced a motion to table Councilor Vanna's proposal. It failed 57 to 93 with both Vulcan and Betazed abstaining. Now, the proposal to suspend the Klingon Alliance may get a vote in open Council if the Diplomatic Subcommittee approves it." Greensburg said as the image of an older Andorian dressed in a suit and tie appeared next to the face of Councilor Vanna.

"Good morning, Vanna," Charassak said as warmly as an Andorian could.

"First to you, Councilor Vanna," Greensburg began. "Can you tell our viewers why you believe that the Federation needs to move away from the Klingon Empire?"

"I think it's pretty obvious, Karla," Vanna began. "We are not sure how deep the corruption currently goes at Starfleet Command and to what level the Klingon Empire is dictating the actions of the United Federation of Planets. Can any rational person explain to me how else a Klingon agent could gain command of one of our nation's most dangerous starships?

"Starfleet Command has vehemently denied that Captain Tigranian ever had any connection to Klingon intelligence and that his dismissal had nothing to do with foreign entanglements," Greensburg interjected.

"I hope that is true," Vanna continued. "However, it was obvious by the events on Cardassia that he had too many Klingon connections to be a captain in Starfleet. It was only by the concerted actions of Federation citizens that he was finally removed from command after a pattern of misconduct."

"But why terminate one of the most successful alliances the Federation has if Tigranian is no longer in Starfleet?" Greensburg asked.

"Because we simply don't know how many others in Starfleet command could still be acting in the interests of the Klingon Empire. Qo'noS wants us to help fight their wars, but the Federation is not in the business of war," Vanna countered. "Even today, a new Pershing class battlestarship is being commissioned in direct opposition to many members of my bloc in the Council. Our social, environmental, and diplomatic programs are suffering while we sink ridiculous amounts of resources into building warships that the Federation does not want and does not need."

"Councilor Charassak, your response?" Greensburg said.

"First off," the Andorian began, "what Councilor Vanna and her bloc don't seem to understand is that you don't cut off your antennae to spite your face. The Klingon Alliance has been an integral part of Federation defense for the past twenty-five years and proved essential during the Dominion War.

However, I'm not concerned because there is no way this bill is ever getting out of committee for a vote. Cutting ties with an entire nation over the questionable conduct of one officer is ridiculous. Second, even if we do end this alliance, I think we're gonna find that we need all the Pershing class ships that we can get. The combined threat of the Romulus Pact is real and we have to be prepared as a nation to fight…"

"This has nothing to do with the new quantum torpedo factory on Andoria that you slipped into last year's defense appropriation, does it, Councilor?" Vanna asked.

"That factory has provided over 1700 new jobs on Andoria while employment on Ardana is down six points," Charassak said as he straightened his antennae, "but no, this isn't a reflection of that."

"Another new warship named for an old, dead human doesn't reflect Federation values either, Councilor," Vanna sparred back.

"I would also like to point out that the captain of the new Pershing class ship is not human, but Vulcan. That makes three out of the five Pershing class captains non-humans. In addition, three out of the five Pershing class captains are women. Are you saying that doesn't reflect Federation values, Councilor Vanna?" Charassak spit back.

"Please do not put words in my mouth, Councilor," Vanna replied angrily.

"HOLOSCREEN OFF!" Annabeth said rolling her eyes as she zipped up her black and grey uniform jacket. "It's going to be a long day…" she muttered as she grabbed a mug of tea and headed for the bridge. It was bad enough to hear her friend's name dragged through the mud on a daily basis, but she drew the line when others tried to use her as a political pawn. She just wanted to do her job and do it well.


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