Thunder on the Horizon
Posted on Fri Jan 8th, 2021 @ 10:48pm by Captain Veronica Reynolds
Edited on on Tue Jan 12th, 2021 @ 8:07am
Episode 0: A Storm Is Brewing
Location: New Vulcan, Vitar Province
Timeline: MD 0: Late Morning
Windblown sand glided across the terrain, following the winding whims of the warm autumn gale. The ripples spreading across the lake gave shape to the wind, making it feel ever more present. The glint of a distant lightning flash only briefly made itself known on the surface of the disturbed water. The first warnings of the coming storm.
As thunder rumbled softly in the distance, Veronica Reynolds looked out across the crimson hued terrain. She loved the rain. Born in a desert dozens of lightyears from here, she'd always found it charming in a way her temperate climate acquaintances had not quite appreciated. Rain was cleansing. Rain was soothing. Rain was rebirth.
But rain was also power. Temperate storms were frequently calm, making some forget this. But the storms of her native Arizona were far from calm. An hour could bring more rainfall than some places would get in days, carving the terrain in ways some mild brooks would wait years to accomplish. It could wash you away in a torrent if you underestimated it.
The storms on Vulcan had been much the same. Violent. Loud. Swift. And gone in a flash, leaving only the scars on the earth behind as proof it was there. The storms of New Vulcan lived up to the legacy.
She'd miss this place. As eager as she was to return to her one true home, she'd miss the time she'd spent here on New Vulcan. And she'd miss the company.
"A storm is brewing," she said, somewhat absently.
"Curious," came the calm flat voice from behind her. "-that even after years of knowing you, I am uncertain if you speak of the weather before us or the discord in your mind."
"What can I say. I prefer to remain an enigma," the woman replied, finally turning to face the voice. Veronica's eyes landed on the face of her dear friend, T'Lok. His Vulcan features made him appear little older than when they'd first met in the academy. But his eyes bore the story of that past decade. All the emotional control in the world couldn't mask the pain.
His flowing robes were casual, yet clean cut. Classic Vulcan styling. Yet, she always seemed to find them out of place. The absense of the crimson Starfleet uniform was felt, even 6 years on. It was hard to believe it had been that long since the loss of Vulcan. The two of them had been serving together aboard the Bradbury, lightyears away in the Laurentian system. But no amount of space would have blunted the loss. T'Lok had sensed the planet's destruction, nearly collapsing at his terminal. He'd articulated what he felt even as the reports were just reaching the ship's comm array. And he'd never been the same.
As a talented Vulcan engineer, there was no question as to his next steps. Resigning from Starfleet to join the New Vulcan Colonization Initiative was purely logical. It would be nearly 3 months before things became organized enough for him to learn that his wife, N'leth had actually survived. Once reunited, his goal to recolonize became a personal one as well.
Veronica had remained in Starfleet, but her shore leaves had increasingly been spent on New Vulcan, especially since the birth of the little bouncing being sitting on her lap. M'Ren, T'Lok's young daughter and Veronica's favorite being to dote on. "Aunt V is an enigma!" The voice, free of the emotional control she'd learn in the next year or so, was exuberant.
T'Lok rose an eyebrow at his daughter. "Do not encourage her. Your Aunt V will never let me hear the end of it." A hint of his old mischivous side peaked out, but only a moment. Such things weren't practical these days.
The little one looked up at the human woman, playing with her blonde human hair. "Aunt V, are you certain you must go? Perhaps Starfleet would let you stay a little longer."
"Oh, little one, I'd love to stay. But they do need me up there. The ship is near finished, and once it's done, there will be a lot of people counting on us," Veronica replied, running her hand through the Vulcan girl's sable hair. "And you will be busy at the Academy! Aren't you excited for that?"
M'Ren looked at her with a grimace. "I don't want to do that. I want to just play with you. Or join you on your starship!"
The blonde laughed, but she did feel a twinge. Her time away would likely be longer this time. "I think you'll find that you like it more than you're expecting. But how about this? I have a mission for you. You see, I've never actually gone to the Vulcan Juvenile Academy. So there might be some important information I'm missing. I need you to learn as much as you can there and report back to me next time I'm able to visit. Can you do that for me?"
The little girl hopped to her feet, hand rising in a slightly misshapen salute. "Yes, Captain!"
T'Lok grunted. "That she will most certainly never let me live down. M'Ren, run along and locate your mother. I believe it is nearly dinner."
The little girl gave Veronica a tight hug before rushing off into the distance. Her father replied in a flat tone. "She will miss you."
"I'll miss her too," Veronica said, watching the dust settle in the child's wake. "I'll miss you all. These times I get to visit the three of you are always precious."
"You are an agreeable guest, Veronica." The Vulcan replied. "But your work in Starfleet is noble. We are fortunate that Vulcan was not alone to deal with its suffering. And I am fortunate that I was not."
Veronica was about to comment on how close to emotion her friend had come, but in classic form, he found a distraction in the distance. "Your shuttle approaches. It is time to take my leave. May your journey be successful and without perils."
She rose to her feet, watching as the craft arched over the lake, leaving ripples in the water larger than those the wind had produced. "You be safe too, T'Lok. And expect some packages in about a month. I might be deployed, but don't think I'll miss that one's birthday."
"Your people's insistence on sending items as a sign of affection will never ceased to perplex me, Veronica. However, I know M'Ren will be pleased." He turned to his friend, holding up one hand. "Live long and prosper, Captain."
Veronica couldn't find other words, so she simply returned the gesture. "Peace and long life, my friend."
Without further word, T'Lok turned and strode along the path his daughter had taken. Veronica always harbored the suspicion that he missed Starfleet. But his duty to his people kept him here. Not all Vulcans felt that way, but with a family to look after, T'Lok wasn't leaving New Vulcan any time soon.
After watching her friend walk into the distance, she was roused by the voice of the shuttle's pilot, calling to her from where the craft had landed. It didn’t appear to her the first call either. "Captain Reynolds?"
She allowed one long lingering gaze across the iron rich terrain, taking in its reds and bronzes. She would miss it here. But it was time to go home. To the one place she truly belonged. The stars.
"Sorry," she finally replied, turning to face him just as the wind kicked up. "I'm ready if you are. But before we head up, I want to make a swing out over the far bank of the lake."
The young pilot looked perplexed, looking at the violent storm that was nearly reaching the opposite shore. "M-ma'am? But what about the storm?"
She gave the young officer a look. "You ever go paragliding on Nervak 3, crewman?"
He looked even more confused. "Uh...no, ma'am. I can't say I have. But what does that have to do with flying into what appears to be a supercell."
"It's spectacular gliding spot," she continued. "Gorgeous island views, sunshine that is always the perfect amount of heat, and a sense of relaxation that's hard to match. But that's just for the casual tourists. The one's who know what they're looking for go in the monsoon season, when the wind is so strong it practically lifts you off the ground the moment the wings deploy."
She looked at him, letting the storm frame her from behind. She never could pass up a good theatric. "Any glider worth their wings knows that the best trips start with the wind already in your sails. And on this trip, I intend to soar."