The Vulcan Perspective
Location: Observation lounge
Making her way through the corridors of her home, the U.S.S. Hera, Mnhei’sahe Dox’s mind was racing in multiple directions as fast as the pace with which the young Romulan Lieutenant Commander was walking. Coming from her office on the Flight Deck, having just gone over a host of files regarding the Hera’s recent mission to the Romulan reunification colony world of Mol Krun’chi, her head was swimming with the details of politics and diplomacy. Details that were still new things for the burdened pilot to try and wrap her head around.
She was on her way to the observation deck to meet with the ship’s Chief Science Officer, Lieutenant Commander Sonak, on the request of her grandmother. A senior Senator of the Romulan Star Empire, Verelan tr'Rul was a powerful woman who had spearheaded the current initiative of the empire to reach out to their hidden reunification colonies and find peace. It was considered a risky experiment with many detractors in the Senate, but Dox's Grandmother was a uniquely persuasive politician.
And it was the level of persuasion that Dox found herself fixated on as she headed to the ships Observation Deck, where the Kolinahr master was meditating, having just come off duty. Sonak was, of course, also Dox's master in the continued training of her mind’s mental defenses and nascent psionic potential. It was a status that gave the wisened Vulcan a unique perspective into the young Romulan woman's mind. And that mind was conflicted.
When she agreed to volunteer in her newfound capacity as a mediator between Starfleet and her Grandmother, it was reluctantly at first. But now, after a measure of success in their first mission and two holographic communications with Verelan since, she found herself embracing the role. Though, in the back of her mind, she knew that was exactly what her grandmother wanted.
And Dox was giving it to her willingly and with a measure of genuine enthusiasm that now worried her the more she thought of it. Having been denied family connections all her life, she knew it was a weakness of hers. A chink in her armor that made her overly desire approval from authority figures.
Authority figures like her superior officer, who was in a meditative state in the lounge, waiting.As the young, red-headed officer entered the otherwise unoccupied room, she folded her arms behind her back and waited patiently. She knew Sonak was aware she had entered, and would address her in a moment, and she didn't want to disturb him.
Sonak had perceived her emotional state and even her surface thoughts from her unguarded mind as she entered the deck. When in a meditative state, his telepathy was even stronger than usual, which has been reawakening recently. In this state, it required effort to curb it down so as not to infringe on the privacy of others and as a welcomed added exercise in disciplining his naturally inquisitive mind. But now that he was aware of her and her concerns, he would not be duplicitous with her.
Especially with her. She prided herself as his student, something he was somewhat baffled by, as he considered he was learning as much from her as she from him. But regardless of emotions felt, or not felt, such a relationship was mutually enlightening but most of all built on trust; and trust was built on honesty and truth.
He did not open his eyes or turn his head as he spoke.
''Greetings, Lieutenant Commander. You are concerned about Reunification and wish to discuss the matter.'' he simply said.
Within her own mind, Dox was vaguely aware of Sonak's presence in no small part thanks to his training that has enabled her to defend her mind when needed. But with Sonak, that was never a need and so her defenses were down. She had come to talk to him, after all, and hiding her emotional state would, ironically, be illogical. Or at least, that was how she thought of it in the moment as she replied. "Hello, Commander. Yes, I had a number of questions and, yes, concerns."
As she usually did with the logical and balanced science officer, her posture remained at low attention. She felt that it helped her maintain her own focus. "Initially, I have been asked by Senator t'Rul in our correspondence earlier to inquire as to the current status of the Vulcan position on our recent mission and if there were any specific requests or requirements of the government beyond what was initially discussed."
Sonak was, of course, intimately aware of the young Romulan pilot's relationship with the Senator in question, having used his own mind to facilitate a mind-meld between the three so that they could help free Verelan's mind from the external control of the Tal'Shiar. As he had been within Mnhei'sahe's mind, he too had been within Verelan's.
He opened his eyes and invited her to sit with him as he was pondering her inquiry.
''Reunification is more than just two planets negotiating a relationship. It involves in fact both our interplanetary civilizations, which not so long ago were bitter competitors and then reluctant allies against a common foe before one rogue Romulan faction tried to destroy Humanity's homeworld. Reunification itself is no mere negotiation either; it is the attempt of what once a single species to renew ties after millennia of ignoring each other and now wishing for contact without losing one's own sovereignty or identity. And all this amidst the socio-political history I delineated before. This makes matters quite complicated.''
He was stating the obvious. But as a scientist, it was natural for him to establish the basic assumptions of a situation before addressing a problem.
'' As I am not in the official circles of diplomacy, there may be much I am not aware of, even as I was lately entrusted by both Vulcan and Federation High Councils with preliminary contacts in your company. So far, Vulcan's stance has not changed after our last effort; Vulcan is open to the project but defers as should be to the Federation High Council as for the details and feasibility.''
He paused to let her process this before resuming while she spared a slight smile and sat next to him, folding her legs with a nod.
''As a Starfleet officer, I am however much aware of concerns going above and beyond the sole situation of Vulcan; orders from Starfleet Command that can and will certainly hamper reunification efforts; and I can safely assume a similar situation from the Romulan side, of which I can only be superficially acquainted with. There will be concerns with security and safety within each one's borders and, on the part of the Romulan Senate, we should expect concerns at least from some parties about defection, territorial infringement, and cultural contamination.''
He paused a moment to let the data sink in before continuing.
''I think that the best course of action for the moment is for you to pose specific questions and we will see if we can either find a proper answer together or a proper source to address it.''
Looking out the windows into the vista of the cosmos that was spread before them both, Dox took a moment. "At least one of my questions you've already answered, regarding your lack of involvement in the direct circles of diplomacy. In truth, that was in line with my... supposition when the Senator asked me as I'm also not privy to the specifics of what the Senate is discussing."
"I know that there's still some debate over trying to contact the Organians. Have there been any other suggestions or ideas concerning a third party arbitration?" she asked.
''Not to my knowledge. I agree involving the Organians is the most far-fetched option; the ultimate one, so to speak. But we have yet to hear the Empire propose its own option and name a mediator, undoubtedly a more easily accessible one; one they would consider acceptable. It just might so happen that we might find it so as well.''
Thinking on his words, Mnhei'sahe tried relaxing a bit, as Sonak seems to be able to keep meditating AND discuss the issue simultaneously. Her mind, of course, was nowhere near as disciplined and it continues to race. "In the interim, it may behoove all parties to continue to ask the Artan fleet to stay involved. They aren't neutral, to be sure, but they also still have active trade with the Star Empire, so there is some measure of a relationship."
"I wish I had more to tell the Senate that was substantive, but I still feel very out of my depth in all of this." Mnhei'sahe admitted, awkwardly. Her feelings were pure emotion, but she was hoping a little dispassionate logic might help calm her racing mind. "In spite of how much the senator... my grandmother... may wish to change it, politics don't come naturally to me."
''I share your position, if only from my own specific perspective, '' Sonak confessed. ''I am a scientist and I am a Vulcan. Politics outside of Vulcan is much more an affair of passion than one of reason. Thus, it is entirely out of my field... to put it colloquially. And when diplomacy involves as much passion, fear and emotional suspicion as it does here, even if only from one side, I am just as inept to address it.''
He did not retell his personal experience with such incapacity; his recent argument with Rita his wife, where he so miserably failed at meeting her needs with his emotionless logic. This was much a part of his current meditations, as he was simply at a loss to correct his obvious error with her. But as always, so she taught him a precious lesson he could be tempted to forget; logic also had its limits. Thanks to her, he was now a bit more able to navigate within them; at least recognize where he has reached his limit.
And here, it should prove invaluable in helping his fellow crewmate with the heavy burden she had been entrusted with.
''if I may be so bold to suggest, what you could tell the Senate is that Vulcan is as intrigued and willing for Reunification as those among their people who are so inclined; and that the Federation Council is as wary and mindful of the consequences as the Imperial Senate is. This could be the common ground on which an agreement might be reached or at least started on.''
An awkward smile creased the chubby cheeks of the young Romulan woman and she let out a light sigh. "Thank you. In truth, that's not far from what I said earlier just on speculation and what I already knew. I... suppose I'm better at navigating this than I thought. She certainly seems... pleased so far."
Then, her tone shifted down slightly. "Which might be part of what I can't stop running around in my head. If... If I may express a more... personal concern... my involvement in Romulan politics is a large part of what my grandmother was attempting to groom me for during my abduction."
"The idea that I could eventually succeed her in the Senate, as such positions are inherited and I'm her legal heir. When you helped me free her mind on Romulus, she understood finally that I had to return. But she's still angling to find a way to get me back. This time, on my own terms, but nevertheless she's still... still grooming me in essence. And in truth, I'm allowing it."
"It's a way to keep that connection with her. With family. And the longer we are engaged in this, the more invested I feel in not disappointing her. And I'm concerned with what that means." Mnhei'sahe finished, leaving that concern hovering out there between the two.
Sonak lifted an eyebrow and nodded.
''This is a rather unique opportunity. If you so choose, you might indeed be a pillar of this bridge between two people long lost among the stars... if not two galactic civilizations. A worthy endeavor... but only if you so choose... and it should be on your own terms. Destiny is only what you will make of it, and no one else. The destiny of an entire people should not rest on any one individual, but on all of us.''
He brought his grey eyes into hers.
''If now or later this is a contribution you are wishing to invest yourself in, what your grandmother is providing you will logically prove valuable. If not, you may then convey this duty yourself to the next worthy individual. Thus her efforts would not be lost... and your destiny still in your own hands. One way or another, you are given an opportunity. It is up to you to seize it or not and how you want to avail or not avail yourself of it.''
His hands went to the stars scintillating beyond the transparency.
''This universe was here long before any of us existed; and it will be here long after we are gone. It will be as it should be no matter; it is what we do in between that matters, not for the universe but for those we care for, be it friend, family or people. But it is not for the stars to decide; it is for you and me and each and everyone of us.''
The reply was more poetic then the young pupil would have expected from her master, but it's meaning was clear nonetheless. Her path was still her own and up to her to decide and those decisions had to be right for her. "It is a unique opportunity. It's hard to think of it as anything else. When my grandmother realized that I wouldn't willingly give up my life here. With the Hera. With Mona and the children on the way, she let me go. But in doing so, she immediately began working to find a compromise. And who knows... maybe I was doing the same when I volunteered to act as a bridge with her during my debriefing back on Earth."
Looking out into the stars, her mind started to find it's center again, calmed by Sonak's straightforward way of thinking. "If we're all successful, then one day that world might not be closed off anymore. I've... I've felt guilty for a long time now for wanting to return there. This way, I may be able to do so eventually and still maintain my life here. My career. My new family. As always, thank you Trensu."
Calling him the Vulcan word for a master teacher, Dox nodded as she sat there. In the moment, Sonak's logic seemed to almost come from a place of emotion, a thing she knew to be impossible for a Kolinahr. But never the less, she was curious as to what felt like a second meaning to his words earlier. "Forgive me if I'm speaking out of line, but... are you all right. You seem... I don't know if 'troubled' is the right word. More introspective than usual, perhaps?"
''We all have our challenges in this existence, '' he replied with his usual deep but toneless voice.'' A master is only someone who has walked a path long enough to understand something of it; but the path is without end and so is learning. And there are many paths one might take... or miss. Just like you, I too must choose and assume my choices and make the best out of them. As in a chess game, sometimes, one makes a wrong move; but the game continues. And that what matters.''
He knew he was being cryptic, that he was not telling her exactly what she wanted to know. Although he could not feel it, he could perceive her concern for him and understand it. But, even at the best of times, burdening her with his personal concerns was improper. It was his responsibility to assume his choices correctly.
He looked at her.
''Your concern is appreciated, but do not burden yourself. Every problem has a solution. And sometimes, the solution is simply to not make it a problem. So here I believe the proper response is; do not worry I... feel fine.''
Raising an eyebrow, Dox understood that whatever was bothering Sonak was something he didn't wish to discuss, and she wasn't going to challenge him or press the issue. "Okay. But as a matter of course, I burden myself with everyone's problems even when I don't know what they are. I'm a terrible Romulan that way. So if you decide that another possible solution is to talk about it, know that it is not a burden to do so."
In spite of knowing that the little joke in the middle of her reply was unnecessary, considering who she was talking with, she offered a smile nonetheless. "That said, I thank you for you assistance in helping me work through my burden. It has been helpful to review the situation from a different perspective."
'' I shall avail myself of your offer the moment it appears as the logical option. How we can help one another is part of what gives life meaning.''
"I would very much agree with that. Both logically and emotionally." Dox replied as she closed her eyes, sitting next to her superior officer, teacher and mentor in many respects. Her mind was finally calm enough for her to find her focus. And as such, she had more she wished to discuss with the man. Specifically on the exact subject of his tutelage of her.
Talking, she always found that she took on a very different demeanor in private, with Sonak, then she did with her other crewmembers. The affectations she learned during her time on Earth that made it easier to blend in with humans tended to evaporate a bit, and the more controlled woman that was raised with military discipline by a stern taskmistress of a mother came out more freely.
"If I may, I would also ask something further. But not about the political situation. In regards to my ongoing training... with you." Dox's tone was neutral as she concentrated on her breathing and relaxed.
''You have done remarkable progress in your personal growth, especially beyond any training regimen. It is but logical that you consider new steps in personal achievement.''
"When you first began working with me, it was in meditative training. Helping me to calm my mind and find focus when I first discovered many of the aspects of my past that had been hidden from me. Then, after I discovered the opening of some of the doors of potential in my mind, you were invaluable in helping me learn to control that. To guard my mind against the invasion of others." Dox said, still calm as she recounted a bit of their shared history. "But, over the last months since my recovery from ch'Rihan... from Romulus... I have thought long on that training that not only enabled me to protect my mind from the Tal'Shiar's machine, but that helped us free both my Grandmother's mind and that of the young Lieutenant on the Golden Ghost."
"In the past, my sole focus was on learning to defend my mind. But in sharing those defensive skills the way we did. In helping others that way... I believe that I would like to continue to develop those skills further, if even possible."
''Because of your Starfleet training, which is the crowning achievement of the expertise of a hundred worlds, preliminary steps of traditional approaches were skipped when we addressed your needs with Vulcan mental disciplines. But I agree there is also much to gain with other types of training. What do you have in mind?''
Considering her reply, Dox thought for a moment. "When the Gaia incident occurred and the door to my mind was closed, it cut me off from the empathic bond I had with Lieutenant Gonadie. It was… traumatic. And it took months to rebuild that bond."
"The techniques I've practiced with her are predominantly Miradonian ones, but it has enabled me to expand my basic capabilities." She elaborated a bit, filling him on some of the details of the last few months. "Just before the abduction, I was able to establish a very brief connection with my mother to where I could feel her emotional state while touching. Considering that, and what we accomplished, it has… changed my perspective on expanding those skills."
"I think that aside from simply focusing on defense and discipline… I would like to expand my ability to reach outward."
This close, Sonak's slowly returning enhanced telepathy could have taken it out of her thoughts. But simple decency forbade it. There were several logical conclusions he could come up with based on what he knew; but that would be directing, something he was not willing to do. And so he simply asked her.
''What do you have in mind?''
"The... specifics, I couldn't say. But, I've thought considerably about what would have happened to my grandmother if you hadn't been on that platform on Romulus to link our minds." Her voice trembled ever so slightly on the memory and all the emotional baggage still connected to that time as she spoke. "On her ship, after Riov Rendal altered her mind... forced her to be her puppet. She couldn't fight back. I could see the pain on her face every day as she had to do whatever Rendal told her. We had been alone at that time only once."
"We sat together in that gilded cage and I couldn't touch her mind. I tried. I tried, but I didn't know how. I... I don't even know if it would ever be possible, no matter how much training I had. But I want to try. I want to try so that if I'm ever in that position again, I won't be powerless to help."
"I don't know if it's possible. I'm not Vulcan. But I want to try and learn how to Mind Meld."
Sonak pondered for a moment. Then he nodded, more to himself than to her.
''A few millennia of isolation in a different environment can naturally alter one species from its original source. We can see this in the cranial bone structure of Romulans and their less sturdy and vigorous physiology because of life on a much less harsh planet than Vulcan. But the unrestricted capability of Vulcans and Romulans to naturally produce viable offsprings is direct evidence that this speciation has not yet definitely separated them. And the psychological life conditions on Romulus are not that significantly different from what was known on Vulcan before the Sundering; competing factions driven by passion. I did not do the proper medical research, but barring deliberate manipulation, the modern Romulan brain should not be significantly that different from the Vulcan brain.''
He nodded this time to her.
''By all logic, your ability to learn Vulcan mental techniques should not be that much worse than that of the average Vulcan. Mind melding is not a natural capability but one that is learned. Even a Half-Vulcan, Half-Human hybrid can perform them with utmost efficiency. if you so choose, we could explore that possibility together.''
"I would... greatly appreciate the opportunity to do so, Commander." Mnhei'sahe replied with a light smile as she resumed her meditative practice, sitting next to the serene Vulcan she so admired.
Sonak looked at the stars.
''There are... always... possibilities.''