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Maxwell Traenor

Ens Sovak, "Taarikh"

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((Mount Vishlu, Vulcan))

::Sovak stood alone in silent meditation, high on the face of Mount Vishlu.::

::He'd been exiled to the monastery there as a child, cast out by his Uncle Taarikh, a stern old Vulcan master who couldn't find a place in his life for an undisciplined, overemotional orphan.::

::Now, after an escape to Starfleet service and nearly two years aboard USS Atlantis, Sovak had exiled himself to Vishlu. It was, for the first time, a relief to retreat to the ancient, craggy red home of his lonely childhood, and lose his cares to the well-ordered life of the Vulcan monastics.::

::The wind whistled merrily through the mountain's sundrenched corners, and Sovak heard Ren's laughter in it.::

::The monks were strict in their routines. When it was time to eat, they ate. When it was time to meditate, they did so. When it was time to work, to sleep, to build, to mend, each action had its time, and each time was held sacred to its purpose. All was in service to order. All was in order with logic. Sovak found it much easier to follow logic here. On Atlantis, it was hard to forget his emotions, with Ren always so near at hand, his turbulent Trill feelings a constant trigger to that part of Sovak that wanted to throw logic out the window.::

::Sovak thought of the last time he'd kissed Ren, aboard Atlantis. At last, they'd almost come together. Then they both left that ship on different paths.::

::Ren had been transferred. Sovak had run. Without pausing for so much as goodbye, he'd taken off alone from Atlantis, back to the hard discomforts of home.::

::The young Vulcan's path had never been clear. His parents were Starfleet officers who perished aboard USS T'Vel, his mother T'Nal giving up her life to see her small son placed safely aboard a lifepod. T'Nal's brother Taarikh took Sovak in, but could not crush the willfully emotional child's spirit as efficiently as he would have liked. On Mount Vishlu, the beleaguered monks had learned to leave Sovak to his own devices. Unable to divest himself of the strong emotions that tore through his heart every day, he'd made a study of pretending to be like the other Vulcans, until he could make his escape.::

::It had not been easy to get into Starfleet Academy without a mentor, without a sponsor. The monks had not wanted him to go. Taarikh disapproved allowing his nephew to live among varied emotional creatures from across the Federation. But Sovak had managed it with studied determination, and he'd landed Ren Rennyn as his roommate in San Francisco. There, Sovak's adventures had truly begun.::

::A scuff to the ground alerted Sovak of a presence behind him in the monastery's rocky red garden.::

::He had not been really meditating anyway. He turned to find his uncle, Taarikh, looking on him with well-practiced disapproval. The stern old cleric had descended upon Vishlu like a plague the moment he learned his wayward nephew had returned.::

Taarikh: I am informed you plan to leave Vishlu once again.

Sovak: Indeed. Starfleet has ordered an end to my leave of absence.

::They spoke in such calm, reasonable tones that no observer would have known they were spitting venom.::

Taarikh: Your time here has been too brief. I am not certain you have managed to center yourself during this short visit.

::Translation - You are a failure, as always.::

Sovak: Disobeying Starfleet's orders is not an viable option.

Taarikh: That is so. A commitment such as you have made to Starfleet must not be broken lightly.

::Translation - That's your fault. You broke your commitment to kohlinar, and to me.::

::The planet Vulcan was too hot for Sovak's comfort. In his first four years, he'd grown accustomed to the mild temperatures of his parent's quarters on USS T'Vel. In more than twenty years on Vulcan, he'd never learned to love the heat. Sweat clamored from his pores now, running off him in desperate attempts at escape. Taarikh, in his heavy formal robes, remained cool and unaffected.::

::Sovak stood to meet his uncle eye to eye.::

Sovak: A commitment made in good faith must be fulfilled.

::Translation - You promised to raise me as your family, Taarikh, but you sent me away, a lost, lonely child. Translation - I promised to love Ren on Atlantis, but I ran from those feelings, not knowing what to do with them. Translation - Maybe I have been a failure. At feeling. At not feeling. At being what you wanted me to be. At being what I wanted me to be. But I'm determined to succeed.::

Taarikh: Starfleet was never the place for you. A more logical choice would have been to remain here on Mount Vishlu.

Sovak: Your disapproval of Starfleet is illogical, Uncle. My work there is in service to the greater good of the Federation, and, by extension, all Vulcankind.

Taarikh: Indeed? Starfleet?

::Sovak could not translate the wearily vengeful look that passed through his uncle's aging eyes. For a moment, they nearly brimmed with emotion.::

Taarikh: Starfleet killed your mother, my headstrong sister T'Nal, whose insistence on living a life among outsiders compromised her offspring's upbringing. My sister was a fool, her husband was a fool, and the child she bore has been the greatest fool of all.

::Sovak stared. This outburst was unprecedented. Perhaps the monastery's altitude was affecting Taarikh's cognitive function. Perhaps too many years of repression had finally forced grief to take hold.::

Sovak: I have never heard you speak of my mother.

Taarikh: She was meant for a greater life than to die pointlessly in a vacuum with that man who was your father. You are too much like him by far.

::These words caused no harm to Sovak, neither to his feelings nor to his self-confidence. He'd known his father to be a good man. He'd watched his mother sacrifice herself because there was no other way to save her son. He'd learned in one moment that logic and emotion could be the same thing. Taarikh's bluster meant nothing, except as evidence that the old cleric had a nerve after all, and that, despite all his talk, that nerve could be touched.::

::A show of sympathy was the worst thing Sovak could have done to Taarikh. Instead, out of kindness, he pretended the outburst had not happened.::

::They were saved by a gong.::

Sovak: The hour is struck. I must assist in preparing the midday meal. Sit inside where it is cool. Perhaps you can meditate. Within the hour, you must join us at the table.

::Hospitality was a way of caring for others. He'd learned that from Ren.::

::Taarikh, looking tired, made no move to go in.::

Taarikh: I shall remain here, if you please.

::Translation - I'd rather eat a hat than do anything that was your idea.::

Sovak: As you wish.

::Sovak walked away, into the cool interior corridor. Tomorrow, he would depart for his new assignment aboard USS Darwin-A, reemerging into the universe from his secluded retreat. He didn't know where Ren had gone after Atlantis. For now, it didn't matter.::

::It was time for Sovak to succeed at being himself, on his own terms. To honor the life his parents had given him and to embrace his uniqueness. It was time for Sovak to stand on his own.::

TBC

============================================
Ensign Sovak
Operations Officer

simmed by

Lieutenant Commander Rendal Rennyn
HCO Officer
USS Darwin NCC-99312-A
============================================

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