Star Trek: Black Diamond Dogs
NOTE from the PHOENIX: This is a continuation of Star Trek: Treason, which is the sequel to Star Trek: Extinction. It is not really the next in the series, however, it stars Salen an orphaned Vulcan adopted by Admiral Pike in Treason. This is his story six years after the events of Treason. If you wish to read about Salen's adventures in the Academy, but don't feel like getting to know him by reading the other two, send me a note and I will give you Salen's background story. I have a few paintings of Salen on my Deviant Art account (I'm also Phoenix-cry there), the 'homepage' link will send you there.
For those of you who do know and love Salen thanks for joining me in a fun, action, mystery, angst, romance based story with my own little Vulcan OC! Spock, Kirk and the gang will be checking in on our friend at some point, but this is his life and his story.
Star Trek: Black Diamond Dogs
Salen fluttered his eyes open and was met with nothing but darkness. He shook his head sadly as a cold wash of adrenaline prickled his skin. It had been six years since his rescue from captivity, but he still had to deal with the lingering effects now and again. The first few seconds after waking were always the worst, once that was over he was able to rein in his emotions as well as any Vulcan if he wanted to.
Taking a deep breath Salen stretched and arched his back in bed. He brought one of his knees up to his chest and stretched his hamstring muscles before doing the same with the other one. Now twenty-two years old he had grown to a full height of just over six feet, although he still remained lean he no longer had the emaciated look of his youth.
After taking some time to stretch out each joint and loosen up his muscles Salen rolled over onto his stomach. Up on the top bunk he peeked over the edge to the soundly sleeping figure below. The necklace that Salen wore swung back and forth from its chain around his neck. It was a present from Pike, the Admiral's old Command insignia pin from when he was a Captain. Salen watched the sleeper for a moment and then smiled mischievously.
"Wake up!" Salen barked. "Rise, even if you can not manage to shine!"
"Urrgghhh...piss off, Salen."
"Get up! Come on! Up, up, up!"
"Of all the roommates in the Academy how did I end up with the galaxy's only perky Vulcan?"
"Hey, you were the one who said you wanted me to wake you up to go for a run before class."
"Salen...class isn't for another..." Douglas looked at his watch and groaned "three hours."
"I over slept." Salen admitted. "Daylight's burning cadet!"
"No it isn't, the sun isn't up for another two hours, and neither am I."
"Fine. Fail the physical endurance test." Salen shrugged. "Just do not expect me to feel sorry for you when you do."
"I won't." Douglas muttered from under his pillow. "I promise."
"I will hold you to that."
"Salen, either go back to sleep or go away."
Rolling his dark eyes Salen jumped out of the top bunk and landed lightly on his feet. He hated the closed in walls of his small dorm room and spent as little time there as possible. Walking over to his closet he pulled out the standard Starfleet exercise uniform. The green scars across his face had never faded, but all but the deepest cuts on his body had turned to a lighter shade.
Salen pulled on his light weight blue shirt and matching loose fitting pants. Despite the near pitch black dark of the room he was easily able to find matching socks and his shoes. He had long since gotten over his light sensitivity, but he had never lost his ability to see better than even the average Vulcan in the dark. Salen was just about to head out the door when he heard his roommate roll over with a heavy sigh.
"Salen..." Douglas grumbled.
"You're making me feel guilty for not getting up and exercising."
"Smart ass. Anyway, how about I meet you at the pool for some laps in a few hours?"
"Um...no, that's okay, I'd rather run."
"Okay, I'll see you in physics class."
"Big test today."
"Today?!" Douglas exclaimed as he jumped out of bed. "I thought it was next week!"
"Today." Salen corrected.
"I'm so dead."
Salen squinted as his roommate ordered the lights to turn on. He threw himself at his desk and hauled his physics tablets out. He tapped on the screen that filled with complicated equations and swore. Salen shook his head sadly causing his medium length white hair to tickle his pointed ear tips.
"Enjoy your last minute studying." Salen snickered.
"I hate you."
Knowing his roommate didn't mean his harsh words Salen flashed Douglas a sickeningly sweet mocking smile and then ducked as Douglas threw a pen stylus at him. Salen chuckled as he left his distressed roommate to study. They had been placed together randomly as roommates two years ago and had become good friends in that time.
Making his way out of the barracks Salen took a deep breath of the salty air. He looked towards the ocean and the massive Bay Bridge. Deciding to take a route over the bridge and back Salen started his morning run at a brisk pace. Once he warmed up he picked up enough speed to get his heart rate up.
By the time he got to the far side of the massive bridge there was a fine bead of sweat sticking to his skin. Pushing himself harder on the way back his lungs started to burn. Making it back to the Academy side in record time he turned around and went back across the nearly five miles of bridges that made up the Bay Bridge system.
As he ran harder the burning that had started in his lungs spread to his legs as the muscles began to become saturated with lactic acid from the exertion. Ignoring his body's cries for him to stop Salen kept going. Douglas always pointed out that they could always just run on the treadmills in the gym. However, there were few things that Salen enjoyed more than the freedom to run outdoors.
"Besides," Salen panted to himself "it is not logical to run in place."
Salen ran back towards the expansive Academy campus as the sun began peeking up above the buildings. Now that it was getting light out there was more life at the Academy as cadets and instructors began their day. When Salen got to the grassy courtyard in the middle of the campus he practically collapsed in the soft grass.
Rolling over onto his back and closing his eyes Salen panted for breath. There was a certain euphoric feeling to running himself to the point of physical collapse. The cool dew on the grass under him helped bring his body temperature back down.
With his damaged hearing he didn't hear approaching footsteps in the grass, however, he could feel the person's light foot fall reverberating in the ground around him. Salen didn't have to look at his visitor to know who it was. The perfume she wore was distinctive enough to identify her.
"Good morning, Joanna."
"Good mour'en, Salen." She relpied with a slight souther drawl. "Enjoying your runner's high?"
"As a matter of fact I am."
"Not very 'Vulcan' of you." She teased.
In response Salen looked up at her and stuck his tongue out.
"Neither was that." Megan chuckled.
"Do not make me nerve pinch you."
"You wouldn't dare."
"You are correct." Salen admitted.
Salen sat up and stretched out his back. Joanna sat down in the grass next to him, a textbook tablet held to her chest. She was a few years older than he was, but also in her third year at the Academy, in the medical program. Joanna's long dark hair was pulled back in a silver clip to keep it out of her bright blue eyes.
"So are we still on for tomorrow?" Joanna asked.
"The pool, Salen, we were going to meet at the pool tomorrow night."
"Right." Salen sighed. "I suppose I have to."
"You make it sound like it's the last thing in the galaxy you want to do."
"You certainly know how to make a gal feel loved."
"I am sorry, Joanna, and I do appreciate what you are doing for me. I will be there."
"With bells on?" Joanna chuckled.
"Will bells help me learn how to swim?" Salen asked seriously.
"No, Salen, it's just a saying."
"Oh." Salen said sounding a little disappointed.
"You are just as cute as a bug's earS." Joanna smiled.
"Yes, Sir." Joanna reached out to tousle Salen's hair but he leaned away from her.
"I am dripping in sweat, you do not want to touch me."
"Alright, hit the showers, that big physics test is in an hour, but I'm sure you're not worried about that."
Joanna's musical laughter tickled Salen's pointed ear causing him to blush. She noticed the way the scars on his face brightened and once again reached out to touch him. Salen tensed and once again leaned just out of reach. Looking defeated Joanna put her hand down and looked around.
"Who's your creeper friend, Salen?" Joanna asked suddenly.
"That older guy over there has been watching us the whole time and he's staring right at you."
Salen turned to look over his shoulder. Sure enough there was a man who looked to be pushing sixty calmly watching him. He wasn't in a Starfleet uniform, but he held himself like a high ranking Officer. An e-cigarette decorated the corner of his mouth, the tip turning bright blue as he inhaled the nicotine mist. The man didn't seem to care that Salen had noticed that he was watching him, however, upon being spotted he casually turned and walked away.
"Do you know him?" Joanna asked.
"No." Salen shook his head. "Probably a friend of my fathers."
"He does have Top Brass written all over him." Joanna agreed. "I have to get to class, I'll see you tomorrow night."
"I will be there, and I will attempt to procure some bells."
Joanna got up out of the grass and left for class. The sun was shining down on the Academy and it was now fully coming to life. The man who had been watching them had completely disappeared into the crowd. Salen made a mental note to call his father and ask him if he knew the man.
After taking a shower and changing into his uniform Salen went directly to class. He finished the test in about ten minutes, but he had learned not to display this fact. Remaining in his seat he spent the next forty-five minutes drawing little diagrams on the electronic tablet while he waited for the first human to be done with the test. As soon as one of the other cadets finished the test and handed in his tablet Salen felt it safe to do the same.
As he left he saw his roommate still concentrating hard on the test. Although Douglas acted like he wasn't capable Salen knew for a fact that he was one of the brighter cadets in the class. Douglas's only real fault was his inability to keep himself organized. Sensing someone's eyes on him Douglas looked up from his test and narrowed his eyes at Salen. Salen gave him a good-bye salute and left.
The rest of the day was fairly routine, consisting of classes and various lessons. Salen had dinner with his roommate and a few friends, all of whom were complaining about the physics test. Salen always just chose to keep quiet during these sessions. Salen went to bed early, but he didn't stay there long. At about one am he woke and tried to quietly slip out of bed.
"Salen?" Douglas asked sleepily. "What are you doing?"
"I am going to the gym."
"It's the middle of the night."
"Vulcans do not require very much sleep."
"Vulcans exercise their minds, not their bodies. Go study or something relaxing, I'm starting to worry about this escalating Gym Rat habit of yours."
"I just have a lot of energy I need to burn off."
"What you need is to get laid."
"Never mind... Go, have fun, lift something heavy for me."
"I do not see how that will help you."
Salen ducked as Douglas chucked his pillow at him with considerable force. Avoiding thrown objects was something Salen had become skilled at since it tended to be how his conversations with Douglas ended. Grabbing a pair of shoes and his gym uniform Salen ducked out into the abandoned hallway.
The moon was full tonight and added to the artificial lights that illuminated the campus. Although it was late at night Salen wasn't the only one walking around. There were a few others coming home late from various parties. When Salen got to the gym he found that he had it to himself.
Salen preferred to use the gym at off hours. He could lift far more weight than even the most fit cadet at the Academy. It was a talent that he did not like to flaunt anymore than he wanted it to be known how quickly he could finish the academic tests. Laying down on one of the artificial gravity driven bench press machines Salen tapped the maximum setting into the weight machine.
As he worked to lift the bar against the gravity field Salen thought about what Douglas had said. His roommate was right, such attention to physical exercise was something that Vulcan culture tended to look down on. Being naturally strong Vulcans in general found that increasing physical prowess was time wasted that could be used on studies, and that physical endeavors were considered little more than an act of boastful vanity.
However, Salen didn't spend hours pushing his body to the limits out of vanity. He did it to keep sane. Years of studying meditation had never settled his mind half as well as physically running himself to the point of exhaustion. Anytime he allowed too much energy to build up in his system the nightmares returned and the sickening anxiety that came along with them.
The problem Salen was having was that as he became increasingly physically fit it became more and more difficult for him to reach the point where his body was too tired to fuel his fears. He was worried that one day no amount of running was going to quiet his mind.
"You can not run from your problems, Salen." He sighed to himself.
Pushing the thought to the back of his mind Salen concentrated on the bar he was lifting. He had broken into the machine's programming a few months back and increased the power to this one so that it could offer him more weight than it was designed to do. Even at nearly two thousand pounds Salen was able to continuously lift the bar.
After an while he stopped and spent a moment reprograming the machine once again. The gravity drive started to whine slightly as he increased the power on it. Finally at a point where the lift was a true challenge Salen laid on his back again and took a hold of the bar to put all of his force into pushing it off his chest. With his eyes weld shut he didn't realize the damage he was doing to the machine. He felt the bar moving and poured all his strength into lifting it.
Salen slowly realized that he had come to a limit that even he couldn't lift the weight all the way. Relaxing against the bench he was laying on Salen once again panted heavily for breath. When he opened his eyes he gasped sharply. Instead of lifting the ultrasteel bar he had been bending it. The bar had not been made to lift so much weight and had started to give way in the middle.
"Great." Salen sighed to himself. "Wasn't I just proving this morning how good I am at physics? And yet..."
Salen trailed off. Still angry at himself for destroying the machine Salen got up and went over to the computer to type in a service request to get it fixeds. He decided to leave out the part about how the machine came to be broken in the first place. As he was typing he jerked at a sound that he was unsure if he'd actually heard or not.
"Hello?" Salen called out. "Anyone here?"
Salen held his breath, hoping it would help him hear. Over the years his hearing had slowly declined even further. He was resistant to getting anything artificial done to improve it, however he was starting to realize that the day was quickly approaching where he'd have to choose between a hearing aid or going deaf.
After a few minutes of holding perfectly still Salen decided that the noise had been his imagination. Feeling like he could try to sleep again Salen headed off for a shower before returning to his room. Although he was warm from the exercise he still turned the water on to near scalding. Cold water brought back too many memories of when Wilson used to drag him out into the snow and pour ice water down his back as a punishment.
Getting out of the shower Salen tousled his hair dry with a towel. Wrapping the towel around his waist Salen walked back into the locker room. On the way he passed a full length mirror. When something out of place caught his eye he stopped and looked closer. Douglas was right, he was spending far too much time working out. The small muscles that lined his rib cage were starting to show definition, forming an unusual lattice work down the sides of his chest.
Salen ran his hand down the green tinged ivory colored skin of his exposed stomach. The definition of his abdominal muscles was not in the same six-pack pattern as that of a human. The attachment points and tendon bands were slightly different, his ribs were also wider across to accommodate his oddly placed heart. Salen hadn't seen an undressed Vulcan other than himself in so long that he had no real memory of what he should look like. All he really knew right now was that he felt that he didn't look right.
With only the human anatomy of his fellow cadets to compare himself to Salen suddenly felt extremely alien. He had done everything in his power to blend in, to make Earth his one true home, but it wasn't working. He traced a particularly long green scar that ran over his chest where a human heart would be before turning away from the mirror. He dismissed his feeling and went over to the lockers to get dressed.
"Bending that bar was an impressive feat, even for a Vulcan."
Salen yelped in surprise at the unexpected voice. He whipped around and backed himself into the lockers. Standing about twenty feet away was the man who had been watching him and Joanna earlier that day. Panicking Salen looked for an escape, however the man was standing between him and the only exit.
"You still have a great deal of fear when it comes to humans, don't you?" The man asked sympathetically.
"Only humans who seem to be stalking me, and then sneak up to corner me while I am half naked in the locker room...at two in the morning."
"Yeah, I didn't really expect you to believe that this was a 'chance encounter'." The man smiled and took a step closer.
"No." Salen pressed himself against the cold metal lockers. "Do not come any closer...please."
"I'm not going to hurt you, Salen."
"How do you know my name?"
"If you take a moment to think about that logically I think you'll have your answer."
"I suppose I am the only Vulcan currently at the Academy."
"The white hair and scars make you fairly easy to identify as well, not to mention your well known daddy."
"What do you want with the Admiral?" Salen asked nervously. "You can not use me against him, I will not allow it."
"Easy, Salen, I don't want anything from Admiral Pike." The man assured.
"Then what do you want?"
"I just have a simple question for you."
"If I answer will you let me go?"
"I'm not holding you captive, Salen. I just want to know why you are here at the Academy and not on Natala with the rest of your kind?"
Salen furrowed his brow at the forward and somewhat racist question. He hated the fact that he was allowing this man to frighten him. His heart was slamming against his ribs and he knew if he didn't get himself under control quickly he was going to start shaking. Determined not to be intimidated by the strange human Salen pulled his shoulders back and glared defiantly at the unwanted visitor. The man seemed to notice the change in his prey and a slight smile touched his lips.
"I am here because I wish to be here." Salen growled. "I can make a difference in Starfleet, and no matter what you may think of Vulcans: I have what it takes to be an Officer."
"I think you have what it takes to be so much more."
"What do you want from me?" Salen demanded.
"I already got everything I need...for now." The man smiled and started to back away. "Thank you for your time, Cadet. Keep up the good work."
"Who are you?"
"Me? I'm just an old Dog."