CSO LTCMDR Sutak - USS Sentinel

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Duty

Postby Jack Lucas » Mon Feb 24, 2014 5:51 pm

Duty

Stardate 11402.24

Sutak immediately reconsidered his outburst towards the Lieutenant Commander. Sara Sumner had intended to dress him down for rebutting her order to the Saturn, though he maintained the logic in his decision. It was the measure of an officer, how quickly he reacted and by what values he held his actions to.

The Vulcan pressed his foot against the column on which his chair sat, to prevent it from swiveling. He noted that the science station chair was out of alignment and would sometimes lilt to the left when he sat squarely on it. He had ruled out gravitational interference in Operations, as well as a biological inequality in his weight distribution when he sat. The blame for the twisting chair was simply a minor mechanical issue. He tapped at the console.

Ensign Jensen was currently bringing a science and engineering team to the shuttlebay to conduct close up scans and inspections of the debris from the USS Minotaur. Sutak monitored his location via the science console. He was still on the deck, and had not left yet. No matter, this would give Sutak an opportunity to do some housecleaning, as humans called it.

He tapped at the science console and brought up the Engineering Services Request program. He tapped away at the console, intimating his concern regarding the swiveling chair at the science console, and the danger it posed to the station. Should the chair fail during a critical moment, such as when its occupant is directing the station's tractor beam to move an exploding ship beyond the reach of the station, it could have devastating results. Sutak filed the grievance and copied the note to Captain Idrani. Surely he would want to be aware of the catastrophic happenings onboard his Operations bridge.

Sutak tapped at the console some more, and pulled up an official complaint program. He began inputting data, regarding the situation with the USS Minotaur and the USS Saturn nearly being put in harm's way.

As he typed in Lieutenant Commander Sara Sumner's name, he stopped. What is the benefit, here? It was logical that he should file the complaint, as his superior had jeopardized not only the lives of the crew of the Saturn, but his own, as well as everyone on board the station... However, it had become clear to him as he left the Academy, that constantly reminding his superiors of their failures in duty had not garnered him much support or favor. He had, in fact, been assigned to the Sigma Rho to continue his research, rather than the posting he preferred, on a science vessel performing long range subspace transporter tests in deep space.

Perhaps, he pondered, it was more logical for him to curry more favor with Starfleet and his superiors, therefore earning himself a post at his requested assignment, where he could do Starfleet the most good. It was logical.

Vulcan's loved logical conundrums. Furthermore, if he did not file the complaint, it is reasonable to assume that Sumner may endanger the crew again, or worse. Had Sutak not spoken up when he did, belaying the order to the Saturn to intervene, it is plausible that in the time it took him to explain the miscommunication in OPS to his Captain and First Officer, the Minotaur may not have been moved via tractor beam to a safe distance by he, who was at the tractor beam controls, that the USS Saturn may have intervened and brought itself within dangerous proximity to the Minotaur, and lastly, that the result explosion may have destroyed the Saturn and sent further debris into the station. A cataclysmic "domino" effect, as Humans would call it, all because his First Officer felt her pride was injured when Sutak intervened to belay the erroneous order.

His fingers stopped tapping. The console sat quiet, LCARS buttons blinking in and out with sensor data from the station's sweep of the debris field. Notes and evidence being reported by Animim and his security team were filling up the log on the righthand side of the screen. Yet, Sutak was puzzled.

Should he, or shouldn't he file the complaint? Normally, protocol would dictate that he confer with his commanding officer for advice, however, in this instance, she was the one he would be filing the complaint about. He supposed that in that case, it was logical to take his conundrum to the Captain, who was currently engaged in other business.

Sutak narrowed his eyes. This would be a difficult outcome, no matter how he reacted. Should he not file the report, it may curry him favor with the First Officer, however, it may do a disservice to the crew and Starfleet. However, if he does file the report, it may damage his already questionable relationship with his First Officer, and may irrepairably sully the Captain's view of him, though it would benefit Starfleet and the station.

Sutak slid the program closed for the moment, as he needed time to think about it. He examined the clock at his station, he had a few minutes before the investigation would carry on. His team was still on the station, and the forensic evidence the security team was sorting through would take some time for Animim to compile.

The Vulcan contemplated the security chief. Animim was a bright and warm man, neither of which interested Sutak. He had, however, been quick to action during the crisis, and leapt into action below decks. The reports Sutak had glanced at reported that Animim had started his investigation immediately. A man of his duty. Sutak had great respect for the crew of the Sigma Rho.

He stood and looked out at Operations. Cadet Calverian, though fresh from Starfleet like he, had performed admirably in the face of danger. She executed her duties efficiently and expediently under Sutak's short command while the Captain and Sumner were below decks attending to the wounded.

Sutak contemplated the Minotaur, as he watched the debris shift around on the screen in front of him. The USS Saturn was using her wide berth tractor beam to move the debris to a small field just beyond the Station's range.

What could have caused the explosion? Let alone the warp core breach, much, much later. The ship was able to reach the station just in time to expel it's crew before melting down into this mess. It all seemed too suspicious.

A young science Ensign approached Sutak, he was human and young. Likely twenty-two or twenty three earth years. Sutak was a man of fifty, having already succeeded at the Vulcan Science Academy, his service to the Federation had been a career since before this man was born.

"Lieutenant," the boy spoke, "Ensign Jensen...heh... has, uh, reported that the runabout is undergoing repairs, he could take the science team out in the shuttlecraft-"

"No." Sutak quickly interjected, "The runabout's sensors are more equipped for this task."

The Ensign smiled, with no real happiness. "Sure thing, sir."

"'Sure thing,' Ensign?" Sutak prodded at the young man, raising an eyebrow. "Also, what may I ask do you find so funny."

The Ensign scratched at the back of his neck and held his PADD in front of him. "Oh, nothing, Sir."

"Ensign." Sutak narrowed his Vulcan eyes. Humans often interpreted this look he made as anger or frustration. Sutak often utilized facial gestures to elicit more honest or expedient responses from other species, as they otherwise were offput by his lack of emotions.

The boy chuckled a bit and began speaking with vigorous use of his free hand, "So, 'Ensign Jensen' - get it?" He looked at Sutak frankly, with a smile.

"I do not, 'get it,' Ensign, please advise me, what is there 'to get?'" Sutak responded, pursing his lips.

"It rhymes!" The boy flapped his hand about, "'Ensign Jensen' rhymes! It's funny!" The boy wore blue, and was one of Sutak's crewmen, but Sutak was unflattered by the scene he was making.

He scanned Operations to see who had overheard his conversation with the Ensign. He was unsure.

"Ensign," Sutak spoke quietly, "You are relieved of duty. Inform Crewman Janx he will take your place for this shift. I will not tolerate hysterical antics on this station." Sutak's wide jaw crushed closed.

The poor young man cocked his face in disappointment, "Sir, I apologize, I was just-" he was waved off by Sutak. He hadn't really caused a scene, but to a Vulcan, who knows what they expected. He took his PADD and waddled towards the turbolift, his face still in shock from his sudden demotion in duty.

Sutak squinted at the main viewer and watched the debris collect.
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Do Vulcans dream of enlightened sheep?

Postby Jack Lucas » Fri Mar 07, 2014 3:18 pm

Stardate 11403.07

Twelve hours before the USS Minotaur Incident

Sutak awoke, in a sweat. His face was bright green and flush with blood. He stood from his bed and went into the washroom adjacent. He splashed water from the tap onto his face and rubbed at his eyes. He examined his face in the mirror. His hair was mussed, he must've been tossing and turning. He nearly attempted to contain it with his hands, realizing both the futility and illogical task was unnecessary. He dried his hands and paced back into his bedroom, then out into his living space.

"Computer, Time?" He spoke as he walked across the room.

"It is 4 minutes past 0300 hours." The computer chirped.

His quarters were dark, and filled with a light red glow. He preferred it this way, at all hours. He stepped in front of the replicator.

"Water." He stated, pressing the button above the replicator for input. These older stations required manual input, sometimes.

A short glass materialized, filled with water. Sutak retreived it and gulped it down in one shot. He replaced the glass, and stepped towards his chair as the glass dematerialized in the replicator tray. He sat squarely in the uncomfortable chair. He was unfortunate enough to have an interior room, one void of any interesting view. There was a viewscreen on the outer wall, but he rarely used it.

On the table before the half-naked Vulcan sat a small case. It was wide, but short, like a very flat briefcase, though it had no handle. The latches were pyramid shaped, and very Vulcan. It was old, and its fabric was fraying at the corners, the strong leather bands that wrapped around it were worn and hardened.

Sutak pulled the chair in and snapped the pyramid latches upwards, unlocking the case. He lifted the brim and folded it back, revealing a very old Keethara set. The stones varied in size and shape, each adorned with fading art or Vulcan phrases that had long been illegible due to their age. The stones were gray and pearlescent, with red corners on some. A few had a marbled texture, possibly from another set that were adjoined with this one. There were a multitude of shapes, elongated cuboids, pyramids, prisms, rhombic cuboids, even a few cylinders and cones.

The Vulcan squared his feet and scooted his chair slightly closer to the table. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes.

"Structure," he said, as he reached out and took a piece, seemingly at random. He placed the rectangular cuboid flat on the table in front of him. "Logic," he reached in again, removing cylinder, he placed it on end, atop the other block. "Function," he pulled a cone.

He grasped it and felt its markings, his eyes still closed. This was troubling. Keethara was intended to bring focus and calm, and to refine one's control. However, pulling a cone had frustrated Sutak, as he had quickly realized its implications. Should he place it on top of the cylinder, it would eliminate further growth of that spire, and should he place it on the table, it would stand alone, as no other piece would sit easily on top of it. This wasn't the point of Keethara, the builder was supposed to find control in these pieces, but control rather concerned Sutak at this moment, as he realized that once again, he had very little.

He placed the cone on top of the cylinder and opened his eyes. He was not pleased. His dream, or nightmare, rather, had disturbed his sleep. Typically, he could refocus and return to bed after finding solace and control in Keethara, however this evening... or morning, rather, he found none. It was the same strange dream that had followed him for years. It had seemingly been occurring for so long as he could remember, though he had never recorded it in his logs as an adult, or journals as a child. Maybe it wasn't a recurring dream, but rather it felt so familiar.

No, this was a recurring dream. This was not the first time he had dreamt it, he was certain.

He stood, leaving the Keethara stones where they lay, and crossed the room to a small cabinet near the entryway. He popped the door and reached in. He produced a small Vulcan Meditation Lamp, red, with ornate white decorations. With it, he held a long striking match. He placed the lamp on the floor and knelt down before it. He struck the match between his fingers and lit the lamp, the scented oil within burning in a tall yellow flame. Sutak stared at the flame, and placed the smoking match in the lamp's ring.

The flame danced as Sutak stared, breathing deeply. He was attempting to recall the dream, to pull it into focus.

Flashes of children playing in a dusty Vulcan field. A learning pit at the Vulcan Science Academy. Vulcan men above him. Green blood, dripping onto cold, gray stone. A man, looking at him from the shadows.

That man. That was the man in his dream. Sutak stared at the flame and then closed his eyes, deeply breathing in the smoke from the meditation candle, exhaling with power and control.

Who was that man?
Last edited by Jack Lucas on Fri Mar 07, 2014 4:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: CSO LTJG Sutak - Sigma Rho

Postby James Greenman » Fri Mar 07, 2014 4:26 pm

Really interesting log, Jack! It's nice to see Sutak being deep and troubled, different from his usual self.
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Finding an ear to bend

Postby Jack Lucas » Thu Mar 13, 2014 3:22 pm

Stardate 11403.13

Eighteen years ago.

Sutak looked at the table before him, parts and PADDs neatly stacked and partitioned. He fiddled with a small biofilter module before replacing it on the table. He was frustrated, and had spent all night meditating, in an attempt to push his emotions deeper.

The Dominion War was at its height, and the stream of artifacts from the Delta Quadrant had slowed to a trickle. Nothing new was coming through the wormhole, and the backlog the Vulcan High Command had acquired before the war had finally run out. There was little to do but continue his transporter research.

He left the table and paced the dark, stony room. Vulcan labs were sterile and sparse, but much darker and warmer in tone than the bright white hospital environments he'd heard about on Earth. He sat at his desk and picked up a PADD.

News from the front. The war was not going well. There were rumors that the Romulan Star Empire would enter the war, but on which side, no one was certain. Surely the Council at the Science Academy would brief them if anything was certain.

Sutak replaced the PADD and found himself even more frustrated. He'd spent the past three weeks writing a report to the Vulcan High Command to recommend a new strategy to the Federation in the war. He had argued, quite futily, that transporter technology could be utilized as a weapon in combat. Should Federation ships concentrate their weapons on shield systems, the new high-volume transporters Sutak was developing here at the Science Academy could be used to quickly transport enemies from the bridge of their ships into space. Or even transport entire sections of the Jem'Hadar ships out of place, causing immediate hull breaches.

Though most ships were designed with countermeasures for combat transportation, Sutak's rotational pattern buffer technology, which had been nominally used for more precise and economic power consumption, also allowed split-second targeting which could bypass most of these safety measures. The Science Academy, and the High Command, had both rejected his paper on both moral and security grounds. Should the technology be used, it could also hypothetically be used against the Federation and its allies. In fact, all he had managed to do with his paper was convince Starfleet, entirely by accident, to retrofit its fleet's internal security systems against such an attack. A wise measure, and entirely necessary, but not far enough.

For three days, Sutak argued the logic behind his strategy, that the moral consequences would be overridden by the countless millions that would be saved by his technology.

Admiral P'lok had put an end to it with one simple note, attached to the electronic paper, that read only "Murder is not of Vulcan." Sutak wasn't ashamed or offended. His peers and superiors were simply thinking small. A trait that had become decidedly Vulcan, now that Humans had essentially subjugated them within the Federation. His strategy was logical. His technology was a leap forward in subspace transporter technology. With only a few scout ships, they could target and incapacitate hundreds of Dominion ships in one evening.

The war could be over tomorrow, he thought.

Sutak pressed his hands together in front of him, the tips of his fingers pressed tightly together, as he peered over his desk, the PADD in front of him blinking with new casualty reports. Another with Klingon and Romulan rumors.

It was decided.

He looked to the communication screen on his desk and spoke, "Computer, list Romulan Ambassadors currently in proximity to Vulcan... And prepare my shuttle."
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stroll...

Postby Jack Lucas » Thu Mar 20, 2014 2:46 pm

stroll - /strōl/ - noun 1. a short leisurely walk. 2. a victory or objective that is easily achieved.

Stardate 11403.20

Sutak emerged from his quarters like a shot from a cannon. Quickly and purposefully, he rounded the dull gray corridors of the station towards the turbolift. It was habit, by now. His path wasn't the only razed into the carpet. The station had certainly seen better days, but for its age, it was still operational.

The turbolift was quiet, this morning. Sutak had entered, and the two Lurians who had been waiting elected to wait a little longer, rather than share the lift with the Vulcan. He had become used to it. He was far from the most popular member of the Sigma Rho's crew. Over the last three weeks he had filed more than two dozen reports, ranging from simple engineering maintenence requests to minor protocol offenses to what he perceived to be egregious faults in his fellow crew's duties.

Most of his reports had been simply filed as "acknowledged" by Engineering, Security and his new acting Commanding Officer. A sign that they were not likely being taken seriously. This did not sit well with Sutak, though he was content to continue doing his duty.

The turbolift stopped on the promenade and he exited. On the advice of his new friend, Morgan Jensen, Sutak had begun taking "strolls" through the promenade in the morning before his shift started. Jensen had insinuated that Sutak was welcome to use his relaxing holoprograms, such as "the still water at dawn," or "rocky shoals of Maine." The Vulcan had declined, as he had no interest in sandbars or oceans, especially not ones produced by hard light in a holosuite.

Jensen had implied that Sutak might be somewhat socially inept. It wasn't meant as a slight against Sutak, but rather an observation. The Vulcan appreciated this effort, as he had only spent time in mixed company with species other than Vulcans for the last 5 years. Before that, he had been buried in his work at the Vulcan Science Academy. Humans, and other humanoids that were simply waves of emotion crashing against Sutak's "rocky shoal" made him appear unapproachable and difficult. Though he maintained he was quite the opposite.

Sutak passed by Praetor's Palace, and saw the Cardassian doorman in the employ of the coarse Romulan. Sutak was reminded of his reading before bed the night before, and that casually acquainted humanoids would often use non-verbal communication to acknowledge one another.

Sutak nodded to the Cardassian, awkwardly. In response, the tall Cardassian seemed to laugh, and respond with a hand gesture. Sutak was unsure of the meaning, and made a mental note to look it up later. He had a certain feeling that the gesture was probably rude.

He continued on towards the Federation Commons area, where there were replicators and small tables. The proprieters of the "money-shops" weren't too fond of the free food in proximity to their establishments, and as a way to keep the peace, the station only served very basic foods and beverages in the commons.

A short queue had formed in front of the replicators. Other officers and crewmen waited patiently, chatting to each other. The couple in front of the Vulcan were discussing a game of darts - a human game, Sutak knew, similar to a game played by Vulcan children as a way to attune the mind. Sutak pondered a way to interject - as he'd read about, though he heeded Jensen's warning - "most people don't like to be interrupted." The Vulcan stood in waiting, behind the two as they chatted. The line stepping slowly forward towards the replicator.

"You were over the line." The medical officer said flatly to his partner.

"Bullshit - I was behind the line, you're just a sore loser." The gruff engineer responded.

Sutak had no response for this personal debate, and continued waiting for his opportunity to interject.

"I'm not a sore loser. I take you nine times out of ten - you only won because you cheated." The heated man in blue accused.

"Whatever. Nine times out of ten it's my bad shoulder. You just can't handle losing, admit it. You don't like losing."

This was Sutak's opportunity. "Who does?" He said.

The combination of the Vulcan's imposing logical voice, in conjunction with his towering height above the two smaller officers caused them to nearly leap forward into the person in front of them in line. The two officers gave Sutak a leer. Both were enlisted men, noting his rank, which sat roughly at their eye level.

"Uh, right... Sir..." The medical officer responded.

Sutak raised his brow in curiosity. He had successfully interjected himself into the conversation, however he had no further input regarding the game these two had played previously. He considered for a moment, should he say as much? Or should he simply wait for another opportunity? He immediately realized he should have brought the PADD from his quarters with the instructions on Vulcan integration into Federation society, but by the time he was going to remark as such, he found the two officers had left, and he was at the front of the line.

He pursed his lips and spoke quietly to the replicator, "Water." A glass appeared and he took it.

He stepped aside and drank the glass in one shot, pouring it quickly into his mouth. The rude Romulan at the casino had made a remark regarding Sutak's ability to down a drink so quickly, and had made an unfortunate and decidedly dark comment about other things Sutak could use this ability for. The Vulcan had ignored him.

He set the glass in the disposal tray and watched it disappear as he continued his "stroll" through the promenade. By his internal clock, he still had another 18 minutes before his shift. He passed the queue and exited the commons area, and nodded to the two officers who had been in front of him moments earlier. They stood silent, dumbfounded by the Vulcan, as he passed.

The promenade was busy this morning, as the refit crews made their way to the docking struts and cargo areas. Sutak passed the Klingon Restaurant Qaplah's, which he had determined he did not care for, and found a few other small shops. None were marked very well, but seemed busy nonetheless. Though the station was under the strict jurisdiction of Starfleet, it had also acted as a diplomatic stop, with shops and visitor areas for crews of all sorts.

Sutak stopped in the middle of the promenade. A young boy bumped into him, not expecting the sudden stop, and apologized. The Vulcan made no response. He had grown tired of this "stroll" and was determined to end it. He still had 17 minutes until he was due in his lab. More than enough time to drop in on one of the Transporter Rooms, as he often did.

He crossed the corridor to the nearest turbolift. As he stepped on, the crewmen inside quieted their friendly banter and stared at him anxiously. Sutak met their eyes from the corners of his own.

"It is..." He began, wondering if the greeting algorithm from his integration manual would work in this situation. "...a busy morning." Sutak was certain this was a success.

The first crewman replied with a twist of his neck, "Oh, you would'nt believe." His accent was of Earth origin, likely the Far East.

Sutak flattened his brow in success. He had done it. He had achieved his somewhat lofty goal of making small talk. This was, according to his integration manual, neccessary in adapting to life in the Federation, with a mixture of races and species from across hundreds of worlds. This small victory would set the tone for the rest of the day, Sutak was sure.

In all of this excitement, Sutak had forgotten to input a command to the turbolift, and found himself on the docking strut level, as the two crewmen exited.

"Level 15." He said, without missing a beat, sure that no one noticed his "joyride." He had overheard the term used by a parent, scolding her child for riding the turbolift without a destination, as children could not input commands to the computer without an adult's confirmation. He exited the turbolift at level 15 and stepped across the corridor to the adjacent transporter room. It was one of the lesser used ones, as it was not in one of the work levels.

He attempted another nod at the Engineer behind the console as he examined the pad. The Engineer jumped to life at the sight of Sutak.

"No, no, no." the gold vested man said, wildly flailing his arms. "I have strict orders not to let you 'fiddle' with anything without proper authorization from Engineering."

Sutak had certainly built a reputation for himself. He had been making minor adjustments to the transporters over the last few weeks, increasing power efficiency and buffer pattern recognition. He lifted his brow, as he often did.

"I am simply assisting Engineering in their efforts to keep these transporters at their highest efficiency. If you would-" Sutak was interrupted.

"Don't touch a thing, or I'll call down to Engineering right now, and you can talk to one of them." The crewmen knew he couldn't physically stop Sutak, but his hand hovering over his commbadge was enough of a sign that Sutak would not have time to deal with this before his shift began.

"So be it, crewman. At your post." Sutak said, pressing his hands together behind his back as he let his nose lead him out of the room. He crossed back to the turbolift and rode back up to his lab. He would start his shift early, with regret. Sutak made another mental note, "no more strolls."
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Re: CSO LTJG Sutak - Sigma Rho

Postby C. J. Short » Thu Mar 20, 2014 3:37 pm

We'll make something approximating a human out of him yet :awes:

Nice log, Jack!
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Re: CSO LTJG Sutak - Sigma Rho

Postby James Greenman » Thu Mar 20, 2014 4:34 pm

Bahahahaha. The more I heard from Sutak, the more I like him.

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Re: CSO LTJG Sutak - Sigma Rho

Postby John Chisholm » Fri Mar 21, 2014 12:32 pm

I think more strolls, not less...

The great chance here is to be 'A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court'. Seeing behaviour that is natural, normal and axiomatic yet seeing it through a lens that makes it look absurd, bizarre and confusing.

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Integration, Part 1

Postby Jack Lucas » Thu Apr 03, 2014 2:54 pm

Integration, Part 1

Stardate 11404.03

Sutak poured over the data at his console. Animim had been missing for over an hour. The LCARS display blinked as new scans and graphs filled the screen. Nothing.

Animim had disappeared in this lab, unquestionably a result of the Vulcan artifact that had been recovered and brought onboard the station. Sutak had taken every precaution, separating the artifact with multiple redundant force fields. Though, it was simply a full spectrum scan that had triggered the event which disappeared the Security Chief into the aether. Nothing could have prevented this. The Vulcan's brow furrowed, as he contemplated possible solutions.

Thanks to the diligent efforts of the new Chief Engineer and the new Chief Tactical Officer, they had been able to determine that Animim was still in the lab - in some form anyway. It had been postulated that Animim was merely out of phase with this universe, stuck in a "rabbit hole" - as one of the science crewman had put it. Sutak was unfamiliar with the idiom, but regarded his observation as likely being correct, regardless.

The other two senior officers had resigned themselves to other duties, as Sutak had remained in the lab, digging through the latest scans of the lab, trying to determine a way to pluck Animim from the void and return him to normal space.

There were a few similar records on file, one caused by a Romulan cloaking device that had affected two Starfleet officers onboard a Galaxy Class vessel - one of Sutak's hypothesis regarding the Vulcan artifact was that it may have been a very early attempt at cloaking technology. He wouldn't put it past his ancestors to have toyed with unknown technology, as Vulcans were a curious and intelligent race. Perhaps the artifact had been locked away, after disappearing numerous scientists, many years ago... Who else would turn up when they retrieved the Security Chief, he wondered?

He almost sighed, as he realized his latest scans were fruitless. His Vulcan ears perched as he heard some squabbling amongst the science crews behind him.

Based on the evidence they had gathered, Animim could see and hear him, as well as the others in the lab. He pictured the joyful Bolian sitting on the floor near the device - waiting. Animim had been one of the few crewmembers onboard who'd given Sutak a chance to integrate. He'd always offered a smile and a joke - though the Vulcan found them more grating than anything else. He still didn't understand other races' proclivity for jokes, often in times of crisis. Sutak had decided that it was a coping mechanism, perhaps. Humanoids with emotion need distraction from difficulties. Sutak wouldn't mind hearing one of the Security Chief's jokes right now.

Sutak looked at the floor. No blue Security Chief. He raised his tricorder and watched it blink, the green fade of the whips and flaps of the scanners showing that sure enough, Animim was in the room. He could not, however, pinpoint his location or find his outline in any spectrum of scan.

He nearly spoke aloud, frustration building inside him... Where are you?


THE NIGHT BEFORE

Sutak glanced at the leaves and berries left on his plate and pushed it aside. He was hungry for something more, though he could not "put a finger on it." A human idiom, one he had picked up from the hero of the hour, Ensign Jensen.

He wiped at his mouth and returned the plate to the replicator in his living space. The plate and fork disappeared without a sound as he moved into the restroom to tidy up. He saw the hypospray sitting on the counter, and grasped it. He pressed the head into his neck and activated the device, which made a pleasant sound and soothed his fraying nerves.

This was as broken down as a Vulcan could be, he thought. His attempts to integrate himself into extra-Vulcan society had failed, so far. He stepped out of the restroom and made his way towards the door. It opened with a whoosh.

At the suggestion of Ensign Jensen, and much to the delight of Lieutenant Animim, Sutak had acquired a Vulcan integration holoprogram from the Science Academy. It had initially been designed to help first year Starfleet Academy candidates acclimate themselves to life on Earth, among humans. However, Sutak had ignored it when he joined the Academy, preferring to keep to himself and remain as pure as possible. He sometimes saw the emotional wake that humans left as a stain in society, one that was best left uncleansed. Rather than bother himself with trying to right the errs of others, Sutak had spent his time at the Academy buried in PADDs and symposiums, extra night classes and time in the lab.

The turbolift carried him towards the promenade, where he'd made an appointment in one of the only available holosuites - at Qaplah's. He had attempted to book one at the Romulan Casino across the way, which had an atmosphere he found less offensive to the eye - however the Romulan proprieter had made it clear that they were booked. Sutak knew this to be a deception, as he had checked the schedule for Praetor's Palace's holosuites beforehand. No matter. He continued along the promenade, his destination, the Klingon restaurant.

Sutak regarded his time at the academy as something of a quandary - he felt that not only was it sometimes below him, but also valued the knowledge and opportunities Starfleet would offer him. It was a paradox. Vulcans hate paradoxes.

He moved briskly past the hostess, who had shouted "Q'pla!" in his face. He made his way towards the back of the bar and climbed the metal stairwell to the mezzanine where the holosuite entrances were.

The faux-Klingon computer pad before him was blinking his name. He was four minutes late. How did that happen? Sutak stood there, silently, recalling his schedule this evening. Dinner, vitamins, walk to the promenade. Should have been 18 minutes in total, though it had certainly been twenty-two. Unless, of course, these computers were off.

He tapped his commbadge, "Sutak to Engineering."

"Go ahead." An unfamiliar voice responded.

"The computer is displaying the wrong time in Qaplah's. Please recheck the stations chronometers to ensure that-"

The Engineer cut him off, "Everything's looking fine from here, Sir. 19:04 on the dot."

Sutak pursed his lips. "Disregard my last, then."

"Losing time, Lieutenant?" The communication ended with the Engineer's final statement.

Sutak stepped into the holosuite. It was small, and the yellow emitter lines criss-crossed the room like an enormous chess table.

"Computer - load program 'Sutak Integration Training 1.'" He spoke.

The room suddenly changed, the black and yellow walls blew out, revealing a large open lobby. The walls were stark white with little adornment. There were no windows, only a desk and two chairs, opposite each other. At the table sat another version of Sutak, a Hologram, wearing what appeared to be traditional Vulcan robes. It was against Starfleet protocol to recreate crewmembers as part of simulations - this must be of Vulcan design, he thought.

The flesh and blood Sutak crossed the room and stood behind the chair at the desk. He tilted his head in curiosity at his doppleganger.

"Greetings," said the doppleganger in a voice that was decidedly not Sutak's, "this program will help guide the user to a better understanding of human society and interaction. Each situation to follow will present you with a task to perform, and will inform you of your performance upon completion or failure of that task. Please select your guide." The doppleganger motioned to his left.

Three new characters appeared. The first, a Vulcan male, wearing mid 20th century robes. The second was a human male, wearing a traditional 22nd century Tuxedo and laser cumberbund. The third was a human female in a short cocktail dress and bright makeup.

Sutak was unsure how to continue. "I choose the Vulcan."

HONK. The loud klaxxon-like horn startled Sutak.

The doppleganger shook his head, "You have chosen poorly, Sutak of Vulcan. Ninety-eight percent of Vulcans using this program choose the Vulcan guide."

Sutak responded, quickly, "It would have been more logical to choose a human guide."

"Yes." the holographic duplicate seemed pleased, "please select your guide." He motioned again to the three characters.

"I choose the Vulcan." Sutak said, without missing a beat.

HONK. The room vanished, replaced with a blank white room. The Vulcan guide remained, and stepped towards Sutak.

"Most users reconsider their choice after being posed with logic. Would you leave a comment for the authors regarding your choice?"

"No." Sutak's brow raised, suspiciously.

The white room disappeared, replaced by a 21st century honky-tonk bar. Loud twangy music filled the room, as a jug band on the stage played for dozens of patrons, each sloshed with alcohol and wet with sweat. The room was rustic and adorned with the decapitated heads of animals, and rusty farm equipment. The Vulcan Guide turned to Sutak.

"In Chapter One, you will order a drink and obtain the contact information of one female." The guide said. "These patrons cannot see nor hear me, and will disregard any communication between you and I."

Sutak nodded and approached the long wooden bar. He left his hands at his sides as he peered down the bar at the bartender, who was deep in conversation with a scruffy man in a ballcap. The Bartender locked eyes with Sutak for a moment, before returning to his conversation.

Sutak remained at attention, waiting patiently.

HONK. The Guide spoke, "Some humans will not offer a greeting when one is due, you must be assertive."

The Vulcan Guide lifted his leg and pressed it onto the brass rung below the bar, and leaned forward over the wood. He then stepped back and stood quietly.

Sutak mimicked his response, pressing his boot into the brass rung below the bar, and leaning forward, awkwardly, over the bar.

"Use a polite greeting to gain the bartender's attention." The Guide said.

Sutak quietly cleared his throat, "Excuse me." His voice drowned out by the ruckus on the stage, he tried again, "Excuse me! Bartender..." The Bartender heard him and wiped his hands with a towel. Sutak noted that each of the characters in the simulation appeared to be a caricature of some of the human stereotypes he'd read about before. These were "bumpkins" if he remembered correctly.

The bartender moved in front of him, saying nothing.

"May I please have a glass of water?" Sutak said, as kindly as he could manage.

"Water?" The bartender was taken aback, "All we got comes out' the tap brown. How 'bout somethin' better... but still brown." The bartender places a very small glass in front of Sutak, and retreives a black bottle, he pours the dark brown liquid into the glass and presses it forward.

Sutak raised his brow, again. Confused. "This is not what I ordered."

HONK. The Guide stepped forward again, "From time to time, you will be expected to partake in human rituals and rites. This human is untrusting of outsiders, and has proposed this drink as a means by which you can earn his trust."

Sutak thought to himself, that is not at all what this appears to be. He lifted the tiny glass and smelled it. It was quite foul.

"S'posed to use your mouth. Idjit." The bartender smiled.

Sutak put the glass to his mouth and sipped from it slowly. His face didn't change, though he was visibly uncomfortable.

"This is awful." Sutak said, leaving most of it in the glass.

"Well, yer s'posed to drink it all at once."

Sutak tried again, tilting his head back and swallowing the brown liquid all at once. It was still disgusting, but the burn on the back of his throat was a new sensation. He squirmed his face as he placed the tiny glass on the counter.

DING! The Computer rang a bell for his success. The bartender lifted the black bottle to pour another, Sutak quickly moved his hand above his glass to signify that he did not require another.

Sutak suddenly felt an advantage, "Bartender, I need to acquire the contact information for one of your female patrons, do you happen to keep a log or a ledger of your guests?"

The bartender smirked, "What kind of place do you think this is? If'n you want digits, go and get 'em yourself." The bartender walked off, back to his scruffy comrade.

The Vulcan Guide stepped forward and spoke, "You will have to address a female on your own, with no outside assistance." He motioned to the crowd near the stage, the full tables and the dance floor.

Sutak scanned the crowd, considering his options. He saw many different types of females, and was able to recognize some of their traits as he understood them from his brief encounters with humans at the Academy and on the Sigma Rho. He decided he didn't have enough information to be selective, and approached a woman nearby, at the bar. She was alone, and unengaged, a perfect opportunity for Sutak.

He approached her, "Excuse me." She didn't turn.

The Vulcan Guide approached, "Humans expect appropriate proximity for intimate conversation."

Sutak's brow lifted in curiosity. He stepped up, looking to the guide for approval. He was only a foot away from her. The guide gave no sign of approval or disapproval. Sutak stepped forward again, pressing himself into the chair on which she was perched.

The woman turned, with scorn, and splashed her drink into his face. He doubled back, wiping the liquid from his eyes, as some of the customers had turned to look at him with distaste.

HONK. A distinct failure.

"Computer, freeze program."

The simulation paused, the music stopped.

Sutak snatched the towel from the bartenders hand and began wiping his face. He looked at the motionless Vulcan Guide, frozen in the holographic reproduction.

"Computer, leave note for the Author." The computer beeped positively in response. He continued, "More accurate description of 'appropriate proximity' would be helpful."
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