Star Trek Hunter
Episode 4: Run To Earth
Scene 14: Pon Farr
Lt. Kenny Dolphin wandered out of the conference room and eventually found himself on deck 5. Two of his flight crew greeted him as he stepped off the lift; they took his place in it and left the deck. Dolphin was still foggy from his recent brush with death. The only thing that had really gotten through to him since waking was T’Lok Smith’s death. He couldn’t even remember which crew members he had just met.
He wandered around the track. One person was standing near the port side. It was Ensign T’Lon. He walked up to her, then just stared at the wall. T’Lon placed her hand on the wall. Dolphin focused his attention there.
“This is where it happened,” she said simply.
That section of wall looked just the same as the rest. The repair was seamless. Dolphin wondered if T’Lon could see some sort of telepathic imprint to tell her where the spot was. “How can you tell?” he asked.
“Telemetry,” she answered.
“Why are you here?” Dolphin heard himself ask.
T’Lon looked at him levelly. “To talk to you. Everyone has come to look at this wall. I anticipated you would as well.”
Kenny Dolphin just looked at her.
“Whatever BK2 placed in your mind, the program to kill on command, it’s probably still there,” T’Lon continued. “I think I can find it and remove it.”
“When do we start?” Dolphin asked.
“Tomorrow. When we’re strong enough,” T’Lon responded, then turned and walked away.
Dolphin watched her. There was something wrong about her gait, awkward. He realized she was walking with her left arm crooked - as though arm-in-arm with her now-deceased childhood friend. Dolphin felt a wave of sadness for her, then found himself suddenly awash in an unfamiliar and unwelcome emotion - waves of nostalgia for a lost childhood only a few days passed - his first command - innocent flirting with a pretty young vulcan - riding a giant wave on a surfboard for the first time - staring up at unfamiliar stars from the warm sands of a planet that was not Earth. It all seemed so long ago. It was a lifetime ago.
Kenny Dolphin shook his head to dispel the reverie. He wasn’t certain how long he had stood there watching the hallway after T’Lon had departed. He got started moving and ended up in the director’s lounge on deck 4. Neither Carrera nor Shae were there. They almost never were. When he was stationed on the Enterprise, he had a small, isolated stateroom to himself. Dolphin had long preferred a solitary existence.
But for the past week, he had shared this space with T’Lok - her endless curiosity, boundless enthusiasm, intelligent conversation had filled this room. It wasn’t a large room but it seemed cavernous and empty without her.
Dolphin sat on the couch just staring at the door - as if she might just walk in. The door chime startled him - he had never heard it used. He stood up and said, “Enter.”
The door opened to reveal Investigator Lynhart Shran. Dolphin was genuinely surprised.
“I can’t stay, boss. We have a lead and I’m needed upstairs. But I figured you could use this,” Shran walked in and set a heavy shot glass and a captain’s bottle with a crystal cork on the counter next to the replicator. A small amount of thick, navy blue liquid lurked in the bottom of the bottle. “Aldebaran whisky from the lowland marshes of the southern continent - 60 years old - almost as old as I am,” he said. “Drink it slow - this is the good stuff. When you’re done I’d like the bottle and the glass back. They’re hand-blown. The real stuff just tastes better when you keep it and drink it in the real stuff.”
Dolphin looked at the bottle with renewed respect - it was a work of art. So was the glass. “Thank you, Mr. Shran.”
“Drink it slow,” Shran said, then walked out the door.
Shran was right - the whisky had wonderful, complex combinations of flavors that kept unfolding as the intoxicating effect took hold. There was only one shot in the bottle. Dolphin sat on the couch, slowly enjoying the drink and catalogued his memories of T’Lok. It made sense to him to try to remember everything about her that he could. He was astounded at how much he had taken her presence for granted - as though they might share this room for years. These were good memories and well worth preserving.
Dolphin was lifted from his reverie by the door chiming again. He drained the glass, walked carefully and placed it on the counter next to the bottle, then said, “Enter.”
Gaia Gamor stepped into the room carrying a platter with a small amount of food. Behind her, David Pepper squeezed through the doorway. Wonderful smells from the breakfast on the beach filled the room - especially the smoked fish. “I thought you might be hungry,” Gamor said.
“I wasn’t, but I’m starving now,” Dolphin said. He called for the Hunter to project a dining table with appropriate seating, sat down at the table and waived for Gaia and Pep to join him. He launched into the miniature buffet with gusto. He hadn’t eaten in days.
“Lenny Shran’s Aldebaran Whisky,” Pep observed after sniffing the empty shot glass. “That man has the best taste in everything.”
“Mmmm..” Dolphin observed around a mouthful of fish.
Gaia Gamor smiled as Dolphin swiftly polished off the food. “I guess I should have brought more.”
“No, this was exactly the right amount.”
Pep looked around the room. “Kind of empty without her, isn’t it?”
“I’ve been remembering her. Everything I can think of. Just a week, but there really was a lot,” Dolphin said, then bit his lip.
“She did wonders with her department,” said Gaia. “She took a box of broken toys and turned them into a close-knit family - an excellent team. You got to know so little about her.”
“About a year ago she had an affair with old Tomos - the vulcan down in engineering,” Pep said.
Dolphin was stunned, not about the affair, but that Pep addressed it so casually.
“Lasted only a few weeks, but Tomos said it was the most wonderful event in his life. That’s a lot from an old fashioned vulcan. Mate for lifetime type. He washed up here after his wife died - no idea how he was going to go on with life or even if he wanted to.”
“Pon Farr,” Pep explained. “It’s milder and shorter for older vulcans, but he was still fairly miserable. The first time is so much worse - usually happens in their mid-20’s. Trauma can cause early onset, which makes it even worse… But I don’t have to tell you that, do I? You literally wrote the book on it.”
“Two books,” Dolphin said, ruefully. “They didn’t exactly make me popular. Particularly with vulcans.”
“How illogical of them,” Pep rejoined. “But these days your second book is pretty much the defninitive work for humans who get tangled up in Pon Farr.”
Pep took a deep breath, eyed Dolphin carefully. “T’Lok was more klingon than vulcan or human - at least in spirit,” he said. “Completely fearless. She was never afraid to give everything she had and everything she was. She lived every moment like it was her last. She lived more in 27 years than most people could manage in a hundred.” Pep stood up.
Dolphin and Gamor also stood up.
Pep put his enormous hand on Dolphin’s chest. This odd physical contact seemed omnipresent with this crew - it was very unusual for Star Fleet officers to touch each other this way - except on this boat. Dolphin had grown used to it - even started to enjoy it, but he was still far too inhibited to return the gesture. He was the product of generations of New England WASPs - casual physical contact was not part of the culture he had been raised in.
“Don’t mourn for her, Kenny. She had an amazing life. Mourn for us that we lost her,” Pep said. He stepped back and picked up the bottle and glass. “I’ll take these back to Lenny for you,” he said, then turned to leave.
Gaia Gamor placed her hand on Dolphin’s chest, smiled and said, “Good night, Director,” then followed Pep out the door.
A few hours later, Dolphin was awakened by someone knocking on the door of his escape/sleeping pod. He preferred to sleep naked - so he wrapped a sheet around himself, then touched the control panel that unsealed and opened the pod door. Through the dark, translucent window, he could see someone step to the side of the door. Dolphin started to emerge from the pod. T’Lon pressed him back into the pod, joining him and closed the pod door.
“I’m cold,” she said.
Without thinking, Dolphin opened the sheet, then responded strongly as he felt her skin pressing against his. “Are we about to do something we will need to disclose?” he asked, awkwardly.
T’Lon pressed her cheek next to his, covering part of his face with her hair and whispered softly in his ear: “That is my intention.”
4 - Run To Earth