“Wait,” the captain said the next day when Lieutenant Tuvok entered her ready room and explained that Vorik and T’Loran wished to marry. “I thought I told you no more mind-melds without my permission.”
“It did not require a mind-meld. Merely a witness who could help them make the telepathic connection that is often part of the Vulcan betrothal rite. Normally such a thing is done during childhood and only between Vulcans. However, both Ensigns T’Loran and Vorik wished to attempt it so that the wedding ceremony will proceed smoothly even if one of them is on an away mission when the time comes.”
“I know damned little about Vulcan marriage rituals,” Janeway sighed. “Your people are rather close-mouthed about them.” Tuvok nodded in acknowledgment. “But, if they’re planning a wedding, wouldn’t it happen on their schedule? I mean, they wouldn’t be expected to stop mid-ceremony to go, I don’t know, explore a planet.”
“Suffice it to say, the wedding will not be much like a human wedding.”
“Aboard Voyager, won’t it require my presence to make it legally binding?”
“Yes,” Tuvok said hesitantly. “However, they have requested that, for lack of any other option, I perform the ceremony.”
“Well, tell them to pick a date and let us know what date they’ve picked,” the captain said with a smile. “I’m looking forward to seeing my first Vulcan wedding.”
T’Loran was beginning to feel oppressed by all of the attention she and Vorik were receiving. Officers and crewmen she barely knew were coming up to her to offer their congratulations and to ask when the wedding would take place and what they would be doing for a reception. Quite a few asked even more inappropriate questions that had her raising her eyebrows despite herself. After a week of such attention, T’Loran wondered just what it was that seemed to have captured everyone’s imaginations so wildly.
“We’re not having a Betazoid wedding,” she sighed as she settled into a chair in Lon Suder’s quarters. “I have answered that question at least fifty-seven times in the past week.”
“I never thought you would have a Betazoid wedding,” Suder said with a hint of amusement. “You’re Betazoid by birth but Vulcan in temperament. What has you so…stressed out for lack of a better way to describe it?”
“Constantly being asked about the wedding,” she admitted. “I think every person on this ship has asked me about it. Twice.”
“Oh, yes. Most of them have never seen a Vulcan wedding. I suppose it doesn’t help that Neelix has probably been researching ancient Vulcan traditions and regaling the crew with stories of elaborate rituals filled with debauchery.” T’Loran blanched. Vulcan weddings were short and to the point. There were no elaborate costumes. There was no “wedding dress” or floral arrangements or music or any of the other hundred things that went with a human ceremony.
“It’s just simple vows exchanged before a priest,” she muttered. “The wedding is not important. The commitment, the sharing of lives and minds, that is the important aspect.”
“I know,” Suder agreed. “However, given that Vulcans have a reputation for being quite ascetic in nature and some consider them practically monks, the fact that one Vulcan is marrying at all has them curious beyond good sense as to what will happen during the honeymoon.”
T’Loran winced. She knew, intellectually, what to expect. The reality would be quite different, she was certain. Her parents had made certain to explain such things to her once she came of age. They had hoped she would find a suitable Vulcan mate but very few Vulcan families wanted to marry their son to a human. She knew that she was going to be solely responsible for helping Vorik to control his emotions during their “honeymoon” and that she might very well come out of it requiring medical attention. However, she kept reminding herself of the things her mother had taught her that would help even a human corral the mind and heart of a Vulcan suffering through pon farr.
“You don’t look exactly thrilled at the thought of a honeymoon,” Suder observed with concern. “Do you truly wish to marry at all?”
“I do. Vorik will make an ideal mate. I am fond of him,” she said quickly. “It is a concern of Vulcans. I do not wish to discuss them with you. It’s very…private.”
“I see,” Suder said after a long pause. “Well, keep in mind that most of the rest of Voyager’s crew is not going to understand your desire for discretion. You’ll probably hear a lot of good-natured ribbing and ribaldry from them. Especially the morning after.”
“We won’t be leaving our chambers for several days,” she muttered without thinking.
“That will just intrigue them all the more,” Suder chuckled. “Try being honest with them. Tell them what to expect. Some will be disappointed but most will lose their curiosity once they know that Vulcan weddings are simple affairs.”
“I may just do that,” she nodded.
“Now, let us discuss a bit more about Betazoid telepathy and physiology,” he suggested. “After all, if you are going to mate with a Vulcan, this information will be invaluable in helping you to determine how best to train your children down the road.”
T’Loran nodded in agreement and settled back to listen to Suder speak. Some of this she knew already from her own studies and her own experience. Still, combining two races who were both telepathic in different manners might require a certain flexibility later in her life.
Vorik privately wondered if the universe were conspiring against him. He and T’Loran had decided to wait until he actually began pon farr before having the wedding. He had almost decided to argue for holding it before the symptoms became too severe. He worried over whether or not she would be physically strong enough to keep him from accidentally hurting her if they waited too long. However, she was a staunch traditionalist and argued that Vulcans did not just elope. They waited until the proper time. Reluctantly, he conceded that she had a point and began to consider the delay a chance to display the qualities she would be able to expect from him as a husband during the times when he was not caught in the grip of his own chemical imbalance. Lieutenant Tuvok appeared somewhat amused by their decision while the rest of the crew was completely confused by the lack of affectionate (by human standards, at least) displays between the pair. Vorik frequently rose early to meet T’Loran and escort her to the mess hall for breakfast when they were working different shifts. T’Loran frequently brought him supper in his chambers and the pair of them sat together reading, meditating, talking, or playing kal-toh until late. They took turns straightening up and then retired to their respective quarters for sleep.
When Tuvok and Neelix were merged into an entity that called himself Tuvix, Vorik wondered if they would have to change their plans or if Tuvix retained enough of Tuvok’s memories and traits to perform the wedding ceremony or if they would just have to wait and see if Tuvok and Neelix could be separated without killing them. T’Loran was mostly amused to see Tuvix’s rather unique personality and she described the change in his emotional state as being much closer to Neelix than Tuvok. Once the two had been separated, she diplomatically refrained from saying anything about her observations to anyone other than Vorik.
Vorik, though somewhat saddened by Tuvix’s ‘death’ was more relieved to have Lieutenant Tuvok back so that, once they were ready, their wedding could proceed without needing to spend weeks preparing Captain Janeway for what would be expected. Shortly after the situation with Tuvix had resolved, however, it was the Captain herself and Commander Chakotay’s turn to experience tragedy as the pair contracted some virus while on an away mission. The weeks that followed were demoralizing for the entire crew and Vorik and T’Loran both did their best to try to help others come to terms with the loss of the Captain and her First Officer while not doing anything that would have stepped on acting-Captain Tuvok’s toes. Managing to avoid a mutiny while contacting and then fighting off the Vidiians, was another roller-coaster ride entirely but one that saw the Captain and Commander return to Voyager instead of being stranded alone in the Delta Quadrant. Now, their latest adventure seemed to be tracking down the Kazon for some reason that no one outside of the senior staff understood very clearly. The venture had been peaceful and calm enough that Vorik began to feel that, regardless of the reason, it might not be a waste of time.
“I think things are beginning to settle down,” T’Loran said one evening while she and Vorik sat enjoying a game of kal-toh in the Mess Hall. “Have you had any uncomfortable symptoms?” she asked calmly and delicately. Vorik shook his head as he studied the game. He placed another piece while she considered her next move. “At least all of these events have given the crew something to talk about other than us,” she muttered as she made her next move.
“A small blessing, I agree,” he replied. T’Loran seemed to have left him no easy move this round. “I think that we should be able to set the date within the next few weeks,” he said in the same delicate and diplomatic tone his prospective mate had used. Discussing such matters was difficult even when the discussion logically needed to take place.
“These past few weeks — tumultuous events aside — have been a pleasant experience for me,” T’Loran said quickly. “I would hope you have found them equally as pleasant.”
Vorik looked up at her and blinked. “I have,” he said slowly as he realized just what she was driving at. “Once we have settled into our lives together, I look forward to many such weeks with only a few breaks in the general peace we will share over the many years left to us.” Before T’Loran could reply, the ship shook and the lights began to flash, indicating they were at Red Alert. “Down to Engineering?” he sighed. T’Loran nodded and without another word, the pair of them headed off to see if they were needed.
“I don’t think we’re going to be able to repair the secondary command processors until we are well away from Nistrim space,” T’Loran reported after the fourth attack. “As it is, our patch-job down there will just barely hold things together. I fear that further attacks focusing on our starboard ventral shield will result in severe damage to those systems. It would probably take at least two days to get them back.”
“I know,” Torres grimaced. “How about the holo-projectors? Are they in place?”
“They are,” Vorik answered. “We have them programmed to be visible from most angles. With the jammers and false-signal beacons that T’Loran and Ensign Kim have programmed, the images should seem real enough to fool the Kazon for several moments.” Meanwhile, the EMH was yammering on about wanting to run through yet another systems test.
“I’m beginning to wonder if that Kazon we have on board has just been leading us on a wild goose chase,” Torres muttered sourly. “We’ve been getting slammed with attacks instead of quietly passing through this region.”
“Janeway to Torres,” came the captain’s voice as the rest of Engineering prepared to hunker down for the latest attack.
“We’re ready down here, Captain. All the new holo-projectors are on-line. We can create three Talaxian ships whenever you want.”
“In about a minute and a half, B’Elanna. Stand by,” the captain ordered. Torres nodded to Vorik and T’Loran who took their places. The EMH continued to argue for another systems check while Torres did her best to calm him down and explained that they didn’t have the resources to do what he wanted at the moment.
“Janeway to Torres,” the captain said again. “Initiate holo-programs.”
“Acknowledged,” Torres replied. “Energizing.”
“That’s two,” T’Loran said a few seconds later. “Number three is coming up.” She winced when she realized that the third Talaxian ship was actually the EMH. Pulling him back to Sickbay, she sighed and waved her hand as if to say ‘well, we knew that the program might be overloaded in less-than-ideal circumstances.’
“Doctor,” Torres asked, “are you there? Are you all right?”
“I told you we should have run one last systems check,” the EMH muttered angrily.
“Lieutenant!” Vorik shouted as the reports came in. “There’s been a massive discharge on deck eight. We’ve lost a primary plasma conduit.”
“Power failures are occurring all over the ship,” T’Loran added as she scanned the systems reports. “We’ve lost power to the new holodeck grid. It can’t be restored without significant repairs.”
“The reactant’s injector controls were hit,” Vorik sighed as the battle continued. Lieutenant Torres summed up the reports and sent them to the bridge while the entire Engineering staff scrambled to try to put out brush fires that were spreading through every system. “We’ve lost warp,” he winced.
“The containment field generator has been damaged. I’ll try to bypass it,” T’Loran replied. “Nothing,” she sighed a few moments later.
Just then, the intruder alerts began going off.