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Slave of the Passions

Posted on Fri Mar 24th, 2023 @ 12:35pm by Captain Mrazak & Commander Arianna Frost & Ensign Khaiel D'hikatsi & Lieutenant Commander T'Bela
Edited on on Fri Mar 24th, 2023 @ 12:38pm

Mission: Season 1 Interlude II (E5.5)
Location: Fomori Conference Center | Temtibi Lagoon, Risa
Timeline: ID 4

"Damned ben-Avram!"

Thanks to the debacle at the Grotto of Delights day spa, Mrazak was running late for the only real activity for which he had any desire to attend. In all likelihood, he hadn't missed much, but there was always an undertone established by the early birds to these meetings that set the tenor for the rest of the gathering. And, like always, Mrazak was late.

The rush up the steps away from the bustling plaza and into the lavish multi-story conference center was unnecessary. Public transporters were lined up throughout the middle of the plaza, whisking people away while depositing others in a steady stream of pedestrian traffic that spanned the planet. A façade of transparent aluminum was set to a heavy tint that reflected more light than allowed to pass through. Such was the need for the goings on transpiring within the conference center.

As Mrazak made entry, he was greeted by a small security team of private guards who held up a hand.

"Mrazak Tow'Lasha," he said to the forward one. "Trilan." Name and birthplace. That was the rule for swift admission. Anyone else would need to be vouched for.

The guard checked the information against the guestlist, compared Mrazak's picture to the one on file, and gave a nod. "You may proceed."

Floor to ceiling velvet curtains draped about the interior of the conference center, along with an invisible but apparent sonic dampening system, in order to convey privacy. Flickers of open flame illuminated the otherwise dim expanse with oil-lit floor sconces and long tables adorned with candles. Several rows of seating arrayed in a semicircle around a speaker's podium held a number perhaps half of the total capacity. Most of them were clad in patchwork robes of ancestral or possibly sheer eccentric quality. Mrazak had neglected his robe.

"Ah, Brother Mrazak!" called the speaker. "So good of you to finally join us! You are just in time for the brotherhood roll call."

"Yes, Brother Telum, my apologies for being tardy." Mrazak added through gritted teeth, "I was detained."

"Uh huh..." Telum raised his chin to stare down his nose at Mrazak in studious assessment. "I do hope it was not of a legal nature?"

Mrazak shook his head. "Negative. It was personal." Extremely personal. "But I am here now."

"Very well," said Telum. "I suppose with that we may begin roll call."

“Oooo!” cooed a girl with long, curly hair, flowy clothing, and a couple of flowers in her hair. “That means introducing ourselves, doesn’t it? I’m T’para, but I like when people call me Daisy!” Her eyes turned dreamy as she gazed off into thin air. (She was probably high.)

Eyes turned to Khaiel, who had tried to sit away from the group so as not to be noticed. But alas, his attempt at stealth was quite the failure. He cleared his throat, "I am Khaiel," he simply stated, his voice barely louder than a whisper.

Telum went over the roster. "Khaiel... Khaiel... Khaiel..." He wasn't seeing a name pop out at him. "Might this be your first gathering, young Master Khaiel?"

Khaiel quietly nodded.

“Welcome Khaiel!” said T’para/Daisy happily. And without preamble, she leapt from her seat, pulled one of the flowers out of her hair and went to put it in Khaiel’s hair instead. Then she kissed him on the cheek. “Now what we’re we doing again?” she asked, looking mildly confused.

With hesitation, Khaiel let the woman put the flower in his hair, but when she leaned in towards his face, he pulled away. Unfortunately, the reaction of pulling away was too quick, sending Khaiel's chair tumbling backwards as he fell to the floor.

It was only then that Daisy noticed he was on the floor. “Yoga!” she exclaimed happily and immediately struck the Astavakrasana pose.

Khaiel gave the woman a strange look before he looked up to Mrazak with a questioning eyebrow.

"You..." Mrazak was prepared to give the young ensign a proper dressing down, but then he remembered the environment. "... are V'tosh Ka'tur? You might have told me that on first meeting." His prominent brow softened a bit as he began to see Khaiel in a whole new light. "Which colony are you from?"

"Yes," said Brother Telum. "We shall record it on the roster for future gatherings."

Khaiel picked himself back up, righted his chair and sat back down. "I'm not from a V'tosh Ka'tur colony."

"Oh," said Brother Telum amidst a slew of whisperings among the other Vulcanoids assembled. "A convert."

As soon as the word was uttered, a mad dash ensued toward Khaiel's position. Mrazak, however, was at the forefront. "Stand back! He is an officer under my command, and as such I claim him for Trilan!"

Khaiel stood behind Mrazak, trying his best to seem as least threatening as possible. He hadn't realized that what he said would be such a massive insult.

"That's now how it works!" objected a tall Vulcan at the back of the crowd.

"It's not not how it works!" Mrazak objected. "And by my authority in Starfleet, I order you all to back away!"

"Starfleet has no authority here!" called out another woman.

Mrazak scowled at the remark. It was certainly a debatable point that he would normally relish arguing and winning, but the cost would be severe to his reputation and standing in this organization. "Then as High Keeper of the Zaipossu, I adjure you to stand down and give the young man space!"

Eyes narrowed at Mrazak, but everyone did as he requested.

Khaiel slowly reached out and placed a hand on Mrazak's arm. As their skin touched, Khaiel began to speak through the link and into Mrazak's mind. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to cause an issue. Tell me what to do."

At first Mrazak snapped his face to glare at Khaiel. Telepathy was never a skill he had developed and it always made him uncomfortable. Weakness was something he avoided and deflected wherever possible.

"You haven't offended anybody," Mrazak said quietly through clenched teeth. He hoped nobody could see his lips move. "They all want to claim you for their colony. Converts are like credits in our order. Stick with me and I will guide you."

A tanned woman stepped over, with chocolate brown eyes, and heavily kohl lined eyes, her fringe was long and just messy enough to denote her pointed eyebrows, her shaggy, layered shoulder cut dark brown hair equally as messy as the fringe, her pointed ears justy peeking out, along with what looked like piercings at the meaty part of the earlobe. Down half the length of her nose sat black rimmed-half moon glasses. Her lips were colored a dark, matte red.

The rest of her was dressed in a long, tight, transparent black dress (non transparent in strategic places), with a heavy, white collar and a wide black tie tucked into wide, black kidney belt with silver metal decorations and a chain. Her sleeves had the same wide white design as the collar and she wore extremely high heels.

"T'Sen Izh-sahriv of Sa'har," she said in a sultry tone, "yes, lets give our new friend some space. Everyone is a friend here," she said gesturing widely around the room, though her face remained expressionless, her long, dark red colored nails adding to the dichotomy that was the woman.

Mrazak's face turned taciturn. "T'Sen," he said without expression.

"Ah, yes, T'Sen..." Telum said from the podium. He marked her present. "Always a pleasure." And his smile assured the truth in his statement. "My seat is right here if you wish to join me. I think we can suspend further roll call unless anyone present did not register at the door?"

T'Sen bowed gracefully to everyone, before straightening up her short form (even with extremely high heels she was still short). "Mrazak," she intoned curtly before turning to Telum, "yes...shall we proceed?"

Click clack click clack, her heels went as she turned without a word and slinked over to sit by Telum, sending a dark look Mrazak's way as she did so.

Lust and rage emanated from Mrazak's core being out through his contorted facial expression. "As you say." His teeth were still clenched, but for reasons other than subtlety.

Until now, a hooded figure had remained silent, her gloved hands folded in her lap. "I, too, am new among you," she said quietly, almost demurely. "My name is T'Bela. I also do not come from a colony and do not intend on joining one," she added firmly, as if to stave off the mad rush that had followed Khaiel's admission. "So do not bother."

T'Sen grinned, ignoring Mrazak's dirty looks. "A sister after my own black heart. You must come from somewhere though, sister T'Bela."

“Indeed,” replied T’Bela. “I am from many places, most recently Earth and before that, Vulcan.”

Gasps filled the room. Brother Telum drew the meeting to order with hands upraised. "Quiet! Quiet, now! Let her speak." Turning to T'Bela in her hooded cloak, he asked, "But are you of Vulcan or were you born elsewhere? It... it has been sometime since a native Vulcan stood among us."

“No, I was not born on Vulcan,” replied T’Bela, avoiding a direct answer to the question.

"Then for the record, please state your place of birth," said Brother Telum.

T’Bela sighed. It had been the one question she had hoped would not be asked. She should have known better of this group. Curiosity was a natural part of who they were. Very well. “Cardassia,” she answered resignedly.

Khaiel's ears perked up at the mention of Cardassia. His mom was the Vulcan ambassador to Cardassia and he spent quite a few years living among them, as well as a recent visit before joining Memory Theta. His eyes searched the hood, hoping to catch a glimpse of her face to find any familiarity.

"Cardassia?!" Mrazak blurted aloud. "How in fiery fusion did any Vulcan come to be born there?"

“One who was adopted into the Vulcan race,” replied T’Bela. “Please. I mean no harm. I am simply fascinated by the V’tosh Ka’tur philosophy and wished to learn more.” And with that, she removed her hood.

“Oooo!” cooed Daisy, beside herself in glee. “A Cardassian is interested in our way of life!” And she again leapt to her feet and crossed to hug T’Bela. “Welcome!” she said warmly.

T'Sen stared the display of affection down with a look of disdain. "Do contain yourself, Daisy. Passion is welcome, but we do have manners." Her lips curled into a smile finally, "but do tell, how did you come to be here? I know the Cardassians are as insanely passionate as they are disciplined so I can see the appeal, but we haven't had non Vulcans in decades, almost half a century."

T’Bela breathed a sigh of relief. They weren’t angry with her. She hadn’t realized she’d be welcomed so readily. With a slight grin, she returned Daisy’s hug before gently but decisively pulling away (the other returned to her seat). “As I said, I was adopted by Vulcans,” she replied. “After the end of the occupation, I was left behind on Bajor as an orphan. From there, a Vulcan family took me in and I was raised among them. I even took a Vulcan name to fit in better. I always found the complete repression of emotions rather… foolish. Control of them seems wise- it has kept me from overreacting and destroying friendships on more than one occasion- but denying them entirely? No. There must be a way to balance the two ideologies. And that is why I am interested in the V’tosh Ka’tur.”

"It is an honor to make your acquaintance," said Brother Telum.

"I did not believe that Vulcans and Cardassians were biologically compatible," Mrazak cut in. "Does our esteemed brotherhood now admit those of inferior biology? Is Vulcan a philosophy now, a costume to adopted by anyone who fancies it?" His voice increased in ardent tenor until he thrust a dramatic finger at T'Bela. "By the authority of the Trilan colony, I demand that--"

But Telum interrupted. "You alone do not speak for Trilan, Brother Mrazak!" The older Vulcan smirked at the other man.

"Yes, but I have achieved far greater heights than your time at a Bolian university," Mrazak said.

"Then perhaps we shall put it to a vote," suggested Brother Telum. "All who are in favor of T'Bela remaining among our number may raise the right hand of fellowship. All who are opposed shall give the left hand of excommunication. Render your votes now."

Telum and Mrazak both shot their hands up first, Telum his right and Mrazak his left.

Daisy happily and dreamily raised her right hand. She was in favor of accepting everyone everywhere, no matter their species.

T'Sen had a smug smirk on her face as she raised her right hand, staring at Mrazak as she did so.

Khaiel just sat there, unsure if he was allowed to vote, though he wasn't sure he was informed enough with the goings on of the V'tosh Ka'tur to make a proper decision.

Many hands were raised, though the contrast was so far skewed in T'Bela's favor as not to matter. "The fellowship prevails," noted Brother Telum. "Allow me to be the first to formally welcome T'Bela to the V'tosh Ka'tur." He smiled and gave his robed chest a pat. "Now there is the matter of apportionment. Since there is no enclave on Cardassia--"

And then erupted the shouting again. It was the same tumult as the crowd had raised over Khaiel, just louder and worse since there were now two converts which everyone wanted to claim for their respective groups. No one voice could be heard over another and there wasn't even a clear direction for all the uproar. Debates shifted between groups and partners at ease with no clear end in sight.

T’Bela glanced towards Khaiel and rolled her eyes. It was like being the last piece of candy in the shop when a bus load of kindergarteners walked in. She couldn’t let it stand, though, so without preamble, she shouted “QUIET!” at the absolute top of her voice, which was pretty loud.

Khaiel smiled, slightly at T'Bela. He was glad she was there to take some of the heat off of him.

Not everyone looked her way, but there was a lull in the hullabaloo. Mrazak arched his prominent brow at the brassy Cardassian.

Once the din has quieted, T’Bela returned to her previously calm and quiet demeanor. “Thank you,” she said. “I have no intention of being claimed for any of the colonies. I shall remain independent unless and until such time as I decide to join one. Until then, save your breath.”

After she had spoken, shrugs were exchanged before they resumed their arguing over Khaiel. Far be it for reason to prevail at a conference of Vulcans Without Logic.

T'Sen slinked over to Mrazak. "So, Mister Snotty Nose Starfleet, is the little kitten one of yours? You seem to be protective of him." She looked up at the everlasting pain in her rear end. He hated civilians, and she as the most ground pounding civilian in the room, hated the attitude. Just because she was an Archaeologist with the Federation Archaeological Conservatorium, didn't mean she had any less value than his royal Starfleet ass.

"Yes, he's Starfleet," Mrazak confirmed with snide disdain, "so you're sure to hate him."

Khaiel cleared his throat. "I will also remain independent," he said, with a sigh of relief. He was glad T'Bela had said that for herself, as he also didn't want to be aligned with anyone specifically. Hell, he wasn't even sure if he qualified as a V'tosh Ka'tur, though with her recent allowance, he had less of a hesitation.

At that the arguments fell to a dull roar. "Well," said Brother Telum, "you should nonetheless be paired with a mentor so that learn our ways and fall not into cthia." At the mention of cthia, or Vulcan Logic as taught by the ancient sage Surak, the entire room gave a collective shudder. "Do we have any volunteers?"

T'Sen raised a hand, "I'm happy to mentor little Starfleet," she said with a toothy, enigmatic smile. "If he's willing to learn from a civilian?"

"NEVER!!!" Mrazak bellowed out, his lips curled into a snarl. The animosity was an almost tangible force. "If I may have a private sidebar with Sister T'Sen..."

T'Sen snorted and shook her head in amusement at Mrazak's display. The toothy grin reappeared, "of course!" She said with distinctively fake cheer. "After you, Brother Mrazak."

The two of them walked away from the group in a private huddle. Hand gestures and general body language portrayed quite an animated discussion that no one else could hear. After a moment, Mrazak returned. "I nominate Brother Telum to mentor Initiate Khaiel into the ways of our people."

From up at his podium, Telum looked surprised. He and Mrazak hailed from Trilan but they could not be more different. "I see... yes, yes, I would accept... if Initiate Khaiel would have me."

"What about the other one?" called out a woman from the far end of the semicircle. "T'Bela of Cardassia. She needs a mentor as well!"

With a long suffering sigh, T'Sen raised her hand again, "since I'm not to set ten feet from young Starfleet..." she affixed Mrazak with a glare before turning to T'Bela, "I'm happy to help you get intitiated, Sister T'Bela." She said to the Cardassian.

T’Bela quickly decided against arguing. After all, she had come to learn more about the V’tosh Ka’tur, so what better way that from a mentor. “Thank you,” she replied, head bowing in a gesture of gratitude.

T'Sen returned the bow with a flourish. "Excellent, now, shall we continue?" she asked, looking over at Telum.

"Ah, yes..." Telum refered to his notes at the podium. "I think that's all the items I had for new business. The forum is now open for pontification. Please queue up as you please for your opportunity to address the assembly, but please keep remarks to a minimum to allow ample time for everyone."

As a couple people stood, Khaiel leaned over towards Mrazak. "What's pontification?" he asked in a whisper.

"You'll see," Mrazak grumbled.

To her extreme delight, Daisy managed to get to the front of the line. She so rarely moved fast for anything, but had somehow managed to get there first. Perhaps nobody else was that excited about sharing, or perhaps they simply had nothing to share. Whatever the reason, she was first and that was exciting. “I’ve started doing yoga,” she announced to the group. “It’s a great way to relax and it’s also great strength training,” her voice shifted to gruff and harsh here, “for when you have to put some lowlife scum in his place!” She returned to her usual cheerful demeanor, wistful smile returning at one. “But mostly it’s just fun!” And she promptly skipped back to her seat.

"Thank you, Sister Daisy. Cross-cultural studies are encouraged," said Brother Telum.

"But they should not be!" Mrazak shouted.

"Brother Mrazak, if you wish to pontificate, you must await your turn," said Telum.

The next Vulcan in line stepped forward to the podium. "But Brother Mrazak is right! We are the heritage of our forebears, the true and faithful children of Vulcan who were not seduced by the Wise Fool Surak. Why, then, would we pursue the lesser trends of species whose potential are inferior to our own? Vulcanoids outperform humanoids in every way! It is they who should aspire to be us! Let them seek out our practices! Shariel take those who seek after theirs!"

Mrazak began applauding with savage vigor. "Veruul! Veruul! Veruul!"

Others joined Mrazak's shout until a chant formed about the Veruul, a deadly beast of early Vulcan mythology who was associated with Shariel, the pagan God of Death from Vulcan antiquity.

Daisy, being the space case that she is, had completely lost track of the conversation already and got caught up in the excitement. “Veruul! Veruul!” she chanted with the others.

T'Sen sighed and rolled her eyes dramatically. Always the same thing. Purist fools who despised knowledge.

After they calmed down, T’Bela glanced around, bemused, her gaze finally landing on Mrazak. “And yet you disputed my own admittance,” she commented. “Ironic that you would have us seek you out and then turn us away.”

"Outsiders are welcome to learn our ways..." Mrazak paused for effect. "... OUTSIDE."

T’Bela shrugged. “At least he’s consistent,” she muttered to nobody in particular.

T'Sen leaned closer to T'Bela. "He is a sehlat's ass and he thinks he has the teeth and aggressiveness of one too. But he is ultimately a coward. Don't let him frighten you," she said.

T’Bela grinned. “He does not,” she replied. “He amuses me.”

T'Sen laughed theatrically. "Good. Good. Would you like to pontificate?"

A gong sounded from somewhere out of sight. At the sound, Brother Telum clapped his hands and held them together over one shoulder. "Ah, the time for pontification has passed. There shall be another opportunity for anyone who did not express all they had to share with the brotherhood. For now we must gather around for the complimentary jamaharon that came with the conference center booking. Come, come! Neat as you please!"

While the assembled V'tosh Ka'tur followed Brother Telum's direction, or alternatively took their leave, a soft drumbeat resounded through the tiled floor and echoed throughout the air. A retinue of male and female belly dancers clad in bells and tiny cymbals made their way into the gathered circle. Winks and sensuous gestures flew freely as more clothed attendants humbly brought forth numerous horgha'hn statues, the infamous fertility idols of Risa.

It was Brother Telum who snatched up the first horga'hn and took his choice of proverbial handmaid. For Mrazak's part, he shot a sideways glance at T'Sen, his smoldering glare a probing question of what she would do.

T'Sen raised a pointed eyebrow, wondering at the probing glare. "You hate my kind. Don't look at me like that," she said as she moved to step past Mrazak and pick her consort for the night."

This was an unexpected development. T’Bela wasn’t about to pass it up, either, but first, she had an idea. An awful, dreadful, terribly idea that filled her with glee. So, with an amused smile, she glanced them over carefully. “None of these are quite right,” she said casually from her place not far from Mrazak. She then gave him an appraising look. “You’ll do, however. If you’re game.” She was, of course, not seriously interested, but she was very curious to see his reaction as well as T’sen’s, should she leave with him.

T'Sen chuckled as she caught T'Bela's words. "Good luuuck!" she said in a sing-song voice as she slinked over to one of the Risian dancers, a tall, bald headed male. "You look delicious." She said, grabbing his hand.

The man grinned at her, "and you look positively studious. Shall I read your pages?"

T'Sen gave him a pearly grin. "You better."

"Bah!" Mrazak recoiled from T'Bela's touch, but after T'Sen's mocking demeanor, he decided that two could play her game. "You and you and you!" he said, pointing to T'Bela and two of the Risians. If he was going through with this, he needed to avoid eye contact.

Ooo, spicy, thought T’Bela as she eyed the two dancers. At least he’d chosen a male and a female. This would be fun.

T'Sen laughed gleefully. "Good luck, T'Bela - at least one of them should satisfy you!" she said as she walked away into one of the side rooms with her Risan.

Loud drumming filled the hall as Mrazak scowled at T'Sen and her distinct lack jealous rage. It was almost as if she did not care that he had claimed four participants to jamaharon. Had she gone blind?

While everyone else indulged in or refrained from the public jamaharon, Khaiel slowly backed away and made for the exit. Whatever he had expected was not what was transpiring before his eyes. As he turned to make haste, though, someone bumped into him--a tall, lanky figure who merged back into the shadowy crowd from which he had sprung. It was all the more reason for Khaiel to flee. Little did he know that his pocket had become just a little bit heavier.


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