Savan stood on the observation deck of the USS Helios. It was 0330 hours, and the ship was still on the night shift, which left the room all to himself. The scout ship would be arriving at Starbase 118 in 90 minutes. Soon after, he would take his cadet cruise.
Taking advantage of the quiet–perhaps, one of the last true moments of alone time in the weeks to come–Savan found a large chair facing the window and sat down. With long torso held exquisitely still, he began to tilt his head down slightly, as he usually does before beginning meditation. But this early morning, he decided to take a different approach. Savan closed his eyes and took a long, progressive inhale, letting the cool, filtered air fill in his lungs. Waiting a few moments, he exhaled, relaxing all remaining tension in his body. He could feel his muscles still taut from his last intensive wushu training session in San Francisco, the morning before he boarded the Helios at Spacedock. Upon taking his next breath, he opened his eyes and let them take in the stars, which were flying past in streaks of light. Opening up in his mind to the immense sight, Savan permitted whatever was inside of him emerge into consciousness.
After a few moments of calm, there came a distinct sensation coming to the surface, bubbling and quick. Savan knew what it was. Excitement. Yes, his heart beat was pumping faster than usual, and adrenaline was flowing throughout his body. The sensation was admittedly delicious. Most Vulcans would never admit to having a feeling, especially as one as possibly indulgent as excitement. But Savan was not like most Vulcans. While the majority of his race learned how to suppress and bury their emotions deep inside, Savan belonged to a small minority: He felt. He lived with his emotions. Of course, he didn’t express them so explosively as the humans do. And unlike the rare and often ostracized Vulcans who chose to embrace passion over logic, Savan had no choice in the matter. His feelings would forever be omnipresent and altogether unavoidable.
While the stars continued their performance in front of him, Savan let a memory arise. Coming to his attention was the report prepared by his physician at Star Fleet medical that his new commanding officer would receive in confidence. In medical jargon, Savan suffered from a moderate form of Emotional Supression Failure Disorder—or ESFD. There was a Vulcan term, of course, but Savan preferred the neutral human name. In brief, the condition meant that Savan’s brain does not permit the rigorous mental discipline required by Vulcan society and is hence incapable of the severe emotional repression now common in the species. Highly rare, the condition is usually due to a genetic flaw and often curable. But there can be other causes, as was Savan's case, said the report. It went onto say–in part to abate concerns voiced by a Vulcan doctor—that Savan’s mental condition was certainly stable and that, with maintenance of a program of rigorous physical exercise, meditation, and medication, Savan would have no problem serving aboard a starship, including on deep-space assignments. Savan let the words of the report repeat through his mind, assuring him that his new CO would find no concerns.
From there, Savan reviewed the events that would lead him to Starbase 118—logically, in chronological fashion. The change in his life path all started with the accident. It occurred when he was a child, when he was about 10 Earth years of age. Simply, he, along with his parents, were exposed to Trellium D during an accident on a transport vessel. As Savan was still a child, his mind was able to handle and recover from the exposure relatively better to his parents. Two years later, his father Varis committed suicide after the end of his career and several failed treatments. His mother T’val would soon thereafter pass custody to her brother Staran, preferring seclusion in a rural care facility where her condition would bother as few people as possible.
By the time Savan was 12 in Earth years, it was obvious that he would never develop the prerequisite skills to keep his emotions in check and thus leave the cool decorum of Vulcan society undisturbed. After an incident when Savan severely injured a classmate, Staran found the most logical alternative was to send his nephew off-world. Finally, he found a suitable family: his part-Vulcan cousins on Earth. From that time, Savan would rarely see Vulcan again, and Earth—in particular, Northern California—would become home. Thanks to the attentive care of his adoptive father, his half-Vulcan cousin Torin, Savan would finally have a haven where he could create a life for himself. To cope with his condition, there were, of course, doctors, psychiatrists, and medical treatments at first, but Torin and Savan would discover that intense physical activities, particularly those required acute attention, would be his saving grace. Savan undertook various sports, finally settling upon the martial arts, as well as scouting and survival training. Torin’s sons—only quarter-Vulcan—would later teach Savan how to surf. Soon, much of Santa Cruz would talk about the wave-riding Vulcans. Eventually, though not never reaching the skill level of his cousins, Savan would learn how to ride massive, potentially bone-crushing waves and would travel with them on surf trips around Terra. By the time Savan completed his high school education at the well respected Interstellar Day Academy—he was valedictorian,—he was quite a site to be seen. Already at his full height of nearly two meters, Savan sported a dark tan and highly athletic form.
Savan planned to remain on Earth and work in the United Earth Parks Service and enrolled at the University of California to pursue environmental studies. (He was considering become a ranger.) On the side, he continued his rigorous martial arts training and participated in several survival courses. Eventually, it would be encountering one of his martial art instructors, David Ironwood, a former Starfleet marine, that would change the course of his career. Ironwood suggested that Savan undertake tactical training with modern weapons. Until that time, Savan had only used traditional weapons. His favorite remained the Vulcan lirpa, which he learned with a Suhs Mahna master who lived on Earth. Savan completed Ironwood’s tactical training at a record pace. It was obvious that Savan would be the perfect fit for Star Fleet Security. Ironwood also appreciated that Savan had to operate from beyond logic. Many of his Vulcan colleagues would often be too logical in their tactics and hence predictable. Finally, Ironwood suggested Savan apply to the Academy.
Discreetly, Savan informed his teacher about his condition. Ironwood laughed, highlighting that Savan would in many senses, be just like many of the other cadets. A year later, Savan was accepted into Star Fleet Academy at the age of 23. In fact, EFSD failed to prevent Savan from completing his studies at Starfleet Academy in exemplary fashion. Socially, he tended to do well with many cadets of most species, with notably the exception of his own. While polite, most Vulcans avoided his presence, sensing his immediate difference. At first, Savan took insult, but after discussing the subject with one of the cadet counselors, Savan realized the other conclusion they would never admit. His fellow Vulcans were afraid. Savan represented what they were never allowed to be during the rigorous socialization and education that dominated their youth. His counselor insisted that he turn his supposed disability—as one Vulcan professor commented—into an advantage. Not only could Savan understand other species better, he also could see the foundation of what it meant to be Vulcan, far beyond logic.
And now Savan was at the beginning of a new chapter of his life. He let his mind shift from thoughts of the past to the stars presently in front of him, which soon came to a standstill as the Helios dropped out of warp. Glowing in the distance was the massive starbase, now only a few hundred kilometers away.
An announcement soon came over the speakers. “Cadet Savan to the transporter room. Repeat, Cadet Savan to the transporter room.”
Savan stood in front of the transporter pad with the slim suitcase carrying his few belongings. His survival training taught him to travel light. He regretted that he could not bring his Lirpa, but there was enough space for the ahn woon.
“Well, Cadet, it looks like you’ll be the first one to arrive at the Starbase today,” said the officer on duty, Lt. Robinson. It was the same officer who met him at Spacedock.
“I’ve always preferred mornings.” Savan said.
“In any case, I hope you get a good ship. From what you told me, I’m sure several captains will want you on their security teams.” For some reason, the officer decided to pat Savan on the shoulder. They had a long conversation in the mess the day before, and the lieutenant liked this Vulcan who seemed somewhat unusual. Not just in size and appearance, but overall demeanor. Savan looked at the hand on his shoulder, which Robinson soon removed.
“Thank you, sir," Savan replied, raising that Vulcan eyebrow of his as he looked at the officer. "I enjoyed meeting you as well." The human lieutenant just smiled, as Savan shook his hand and stepped onto the pad.
Just as the officer gave the signal to energize, Savan decided to say farewell. “And Lieutenant, may your journey be free of incident. Peace and long life.” A very typical Vulcan saying accompanied by the usual salute, to which he added a very un-Vulcan flourish, a wink.
Robinson was already fading from view, but Savan managed to see a look of confusion, followed by what appeared to be blushing.
In a few moments, Savan found himself on the transporter pad at Starbase 118’s main transporter center. He now felt the excitement that he sensed back on the observation deck but even stronger.
Now, a different lieutenant stood before him. This time, a female, and now, Bajoran instead of human.
“Cadet Savan, welcome to Starbase 118. I’m Lieutenant Alora Laris.”
“Good morning, sir.” Savan seemed even taller while on the pad.
“Do you have your identification with you?” Alora asked, tilting her head back to take him in full slight.
“Yes, sir.” Savan stepped down and handed the PADD to the Bajoran. Even off the platform, the Vulcan was still tall.
“Well, it looks like everything is in order here. Hmm… I see you concentrated in security.” Alora looked Savan over. “No interest in science?”
Savan looked quizzically at the lieutenant before responding. “No, sir.”
“As I’m sure you learned on the Helios, you are the first cadet to arrive today. The morning's briefing is not until 1100 hours, so you have quite a few hours to get settled before you receive your ship assignment for your cadet cruise.”
“1100 hours? I thought the briefing was 0800 hour, followed by a presentation by Admiral Davis at 0915.” Savan replied matter-of-factly.
“Sounds like you’ve memorized the schedule, cadet?” Alora laughed looking up at Savan’s prominent ears. “But that doesn’t surprise me.”
“I always memorize the schedule, sir.” Alora swore to herself that she saw the Vulcan almost smile. She’d knock down any other cadet—especially a human one—for making such a smart comment. “I find that it increases my personal efficiency,” Savan added.
“Well, the final contingent of cadets are on the Lexington, which has been delayed. It won’t be arriving until 1030.” Alora said to Savan, as they entered the main hallway. “So you’re in luck this morning.” The Bajoran stopped herself. “Though... I’m sure you don’t believe in luck.”
Savan was certain that Alora was waiting for a typically Vulcan response, and moreover, Alora seemed to take enjoyment in edging on Vulcans in general. He thoughtfully considered his reply. “Sir, it may come a surprise, but I’ve learned to accept the possibility of random occurrences with positive outcomes.”
Alora wasn’t sure what to say. The answer sounded Vulcan, but wasn’t he saying that he believed in luck? He also seemed a bit more mature than the usual cadet. She wondered if he could be 40 or 50 Earth years. Vulcans always hided their age well. And why was he so tanned? Despite her curiosity, Alora decided to continue with her introduction.
“In any case, I’m sure you’ve heard, we have several districts in the base’s Commercial Sector, which you’re free to explore. I imagine you will want to visit to ShiKahr district. It’s the Vulcan quarter on the base. There is one restaurant that serves a decent Plomeek soup, according to my Vulcan colleagues.”
Savan came to a stop and then looked at the Bajoran. “That is a very considerate suggestion of you, sir, but perhaps, another section would be better.” Alora swore this Vulcan seemed hesitant.
Savan changed tone and continued, “I read that there is a San Francisco district, isn’t there, sir?”
Alora looked confused. She found that most Vulcans on the Starbase preferred to spend their free time with their own kind, and didn’t he just come from San Francisco?
“Yes, there is a San Francisco district. It’s actually my favorite part of the Commercial Section.”
“Fascinating,” replied Savan. “Is there any place that you would suggest for breakfast?”
“Actually, there is a small cafe with a view of the replica of the Golden Gate Bridge. The coffee and raktajinos are quite good. There is Vulcan tea as well.”
“That sounds like an agreeable way to begin the day. Thank you, sir.” Savan’s voice had an unrecognizably warm quality—at least, the warmest she’d heard for a Vulcan.
When they reached the end of the corridor where the turbolifts were located, Alora was about to say farewell to the cadet before she had a change of thought.
“Cadet, I am about to end my duty shift. Would you like me to take you there, to the San Francisco section? I haven’t eaten since 1800 yesterday, and I could definitely grab a bite."
There was that almost smile again. “I would find that most... stimulating. Thank you, sir.”
Now, it was the Bajoran who stopped in her steps. “Listen, cadet, to be honest, I’ve never been one for formality. Please call me Laris.”
“Certainly. And Laris, I grew up mainly among humans, so I learned a long time ago to keep things, as you say, informal, as well. Call me Savan. Perhaps I will even tell you over breakfast what my nickname in high school was.” This time, Savan smiled for real. Compared to the humans he lived with for 15 years, he didn’t smile that often, but on the right occasion, he did. And on this morning, with so much about to happen, it felt right.