A product of both of her parents’ races, T’Vel was raised as a true Vulcan on their homeworld, wholly entrenched within the teachings of Surak and logic under her traditional mother. However, she has since abandoned embracing these ways in their entirety and has tried to loosen her emotional control to be in touch with her Bajoran side. As a commander, T'Vel expects officers to serve with precision and competence, sometimes not as forgiving as some feel she should be when concerning their duties, but will typically concede to judgements superior to her own, although she does not prize experience over logic. Despite her often stern character, T'Vel has a compassionate nature and the traditional yearning for exploration found amongst Starfleet officers.
During the 2340 and 2350s, the Cardassian Union – an empire ruled through strict military might – was at war with the United Federation of Planets, and was a time when the world of Bajor was occupied by the Union. It was during this period of history that Vel Karim, a Bajoran who managed to escape from the labour camps of his homeworld with the aid of sympathetic merchants, met T’Lal.
The merchant ship carrying the fugitives attempted to cross the border into Federation space but was pursued and attacked by Cardassian forces. Luckily for Karim and the others, the Starfleet vessel USS Belfast was in the vicinity, immediately rallying to the beleaguered vessel and fending off the Cardassian assailants, taking on board the injured merchants and Bajorans. As a medical officer on board the Belfast, Lieutenant JG T’Lal – a widowed Vulcan still in her effective youth – was responsible for the care given to Karim. The two grew close in a very short period of time, and were married within the year in a traditional Vulcan ceremony.
Not long after eloping, a daughter was born to the couple on board the Belfast – around the conclusion of the war – whom was named T’Vel, in honour of her father’s Bajoran name and her Vulcan heritage. However, issues soon arose concerning how to raise this new child, which brought a new dynamic to their marriage. Having had a child many years prior with her betrothed, who had died suddenly many years before, T’Lal had seen what she believed to be the merits of a Vulcan upbringing, and insisted upon raising T’Vel in the ways of Surak and Vulcan logic. Enamoured with his wife, child and newfound freedom in the Federation, as well as wishing to live on a planet and not a starship, Kerim agreed to move to Vulcan, where he soon found himself becoming involved in political circles, namely against injustices in Cardassian space.
As the years went on, however, schisms started to form between the two. T’Vel had begun her emotional conditioning as a Vulcan and scholarly studies, and Kerim – whilst engrossed in his political campaigning – found himself upset at what T’Lal was teaching his daughter to be, discovering he wanted her to be both Bajoran and Vulcan, and not just one, having seen how such hybrid children had been treated on Bajor (as well as in some cases on Vulcan, although with less regularity than had once been common). T’Lal, unwilling to compromise as she became more entrenched in Vulcan traditionalism, did not agree to what Kerim wished and the two quickly began to drift apart, eventually culminating in a legal separation when T’Lal announced the traditional Vulcan betrothal a child went through for T’Vel – to a young boy named Savek.
T’Vel was old enough to understand at least some of what was happening and greatly missed her father, but was heavily under the sway of her mother, and devoted herself to the pursuit of logic, and was taught to apply that to the situation at hand with her parents. T’Lal pushed T’Vel hard in her academic studies, where the girl was discovered to have a sharp intellect and an uncanny awareness of individuals’ psychologies, often examining the characters of those around her.
Even though he now spent much of his time campaigning on numerous worlds, Kerim would find time to spend with his daughter, although the meetings were often frosty. Encouraged by her mother to embrace her Vulcan teachings, the reunions were never more than discussions between father and daughter, although these soon began to hold heavy meaning for her as he told her more and more about her Bajoran ancestry and culture, of what it meant to him and his feelings for her.
Sadly, T’Lal tried to discourage these meetings as she realised the profound effect his words were having on T’Vel, until one day when a message was received informing the young woman of Kerim’s death during an attempt to aid Bajoran prisoners in Cardassian space. Full of upset over her father’s death and the lack of time they had spent together, coupled with the many thoughts and ideals he had injected into her over the years, T’Vel grew resentful towards T’Lal, believing her stoicism and obsession with Vulcan ways ruined her opportunities to know her father before his untimely death. The mother and daughter grew distant, with T’Vel beginning to reject many of the teachings of Surak in favour of learning more about other races of the Federation, and primarily about her Bajoran heritage. What further incensed the young T’Vel was how she had been treated by the rare few others of her age group in her youth, who had penalised her – in their own Vulcan way – for her mixed heritage.
Eventually, when she came of age, T’Vel was married to Savek. Whilst Vulcan marriages prima facie are not affectionate, the couple typically develop an intense-if-unspoken bond. Whilst T’Vel did devote herself to the union, hers and Savek’s marriage was loveless, at least from T’Vel’s troubled perspective. Within a year of their marriage, she elected to follow in her mother’s footsteps (also seeing an opportunity to leave Vulcan) by joining Starfleet. She was accepted on her second attempt and entered onto the science track at the Academy, specialising in photonics and quantum mechanics. This put a further strain on her relationship with her husband, who was nevertheless supportive of her ambitions and decisions, and he would regularly visit her on Earth.
Starfleet Career and Bajor
Finally, after the Occupation of Bajor ended and the Federation took an active role in the future of the planet, T’Vel got into contact with her father’s sister – her aunt – who was now free and living on Bajor. Val Kyana was only too happy to hear from her niece, promptly inviting her to visit her – and offer that extended to actually establishing Bajor as her official residence, if she so wished. Of course, T’Lal advised against such a course of action, but the damage to their relationship was done. Savek, ever the mediator and keen to maintain his nascent relationship with his rapidly-estranging wife, capitulated. With her husband, T’Vel formally left Vulcan behind to discover her Bajoran identity, in-between semesters.
Leaving behind a childhood and years of Vulcan teachings and ways, however, proved difficult for the young T’Vel, even as a Starfleet Academy cadet, who not only struggled to be accepted by the others for her mixed race, but also her awkward Vulcan personality, which was taking time to adjust to the rediscovery of accepting outward emotions – something Savek struggled to manage, finding Bajor as alien as T’Vel ever found Vulcan. Indeed, given a natural disposition towards volatile moods, T’Vel had to maintain much of her Vulcan composure even as she re-accumulated and rediscovered herself. Nevertheless, she grew close to her aunt, who taught her much about Bajoran history and cultures – as well as about her father – and continued her studies as best she could, but peace was still a long stretch away for the area.
T’Vel’s early career within Starfleet was only a short time before the Dominion War broke out, and she regularly considered returning on numerous occasions for fear of both her aunt’s wellbeing and that of Savek, who had begun working with the Bajoran Militia, but was often dissuaded through her lingering connection to logic, and her aunt’s own dismissals. Her time at the Academy, even with her primitive developments in social interaction, was troubling with other cadets as she found herself better at the scholastic and physical elements than social ones, yet she still managed to form some friendships, chiefly with other Vulcans and Bajorans.
Commissioned as an ensign, she was assigned to the USS Mandela as a science officer. At this time, her mother had reactivated her own commission, and had begun serving in a medical capacity planetside on Vulcan and the nearby systems. Sharing only brief communication, T’Vel was willing to let their relationship slip to the wayside in favour of her career, but this soon became a secondary consideration, too, as T’Vel discovered she was pregnant. By the end of that year, entering a leave of absence, she gave birth to hers and Savek’s son on Bajor, named Karim in honour of T’Vel’s father.
Family Life, LOA and Return to Starfleet
For two years, T’Vel, Savek and Karim lived on Bajor with T’Vel’s Bajoran family, seeking to make a life for themselves there. As time progressed, it became increasingly apparent that the domicile lifestyle was not suited to T’Vel. Whilst she loved her son dearly and was devoted to him, she began thinking of a return to the stars – especially with the prospect of a war with the Dominion looming, which also put Bajor at significant risk from invasion. Whilst her aunt declined to go with them, T’Vel agreed that Savek and Karim should go to live on Vulcan. Whilst she was sceptical of Karim being raised in the conservative Vulcan manner both her mother and Savek’s family preferred, she would rather they be safe than exposed to unnecessary risk. She herself, however, reactivated her commission and was assigned to the USS Surak (something which she considered to be a joke by the Prophets she still did not quite understand or worship) as a science officer. This decision effectively ended her relationship with Savek, with whom she spoke with with decreasing regularity, apart from to see Karim.
The war that was promised started shortly thereafter. Following a promotion to junior-grade lieutenant, T’Vel shifted roles to relief conn officer, to better serve her vessel in combat scenarios, and she served with distinction until the end of the war. By this point, she and Savek agreed to dissolve their marriage, as what little relationship had existed had become insignificant, and neither party wished to diminish the other’s opportunities in life. Whilst it pained T’Vel, she agreed that Karim would remain on Vulcan with Savek’s family and T’Vel’s Vulcan family, as the boy had quickly grown ingratiated with Vulcan culture and society. This, in itself, would often make the relationship between mother and son more strained in subsequent years, too.
Ascending the Ranks
Following on from the war’s conclusion, and with only brief stints with her visiting family and them visiting her (Karim occasionally staying with her on the vessels she was assigned to), T’Vel was promoted to senior-grade lieutenant and appointed the assistant chief science officer on the Thelian, which soon culminated in a further promotion to lieutenant commander and department head on the Galaxy-class USS Nobel, a prestigious role on an expansive vessel that permitted her greater opportunities to spend time with her son, who had by this point fully embraced the teachings of Surak that she had rejected in her adulthood. Although there was some hidden resentment from her son that she could detect over his Vulcan upbringing and her alienation from his culture, the pair were able to be civil, with a number of shared interests. In the interest of smoothing their interactions, T’Vel would often find herself falling back into Vulcan mannerisms and behaviour – although this would often serve to frustrate her adolescent son, who detected the false manner with ease.
As in her previous assignments, she initially struggled to form close bonds with her fellow officers, yet a few that were willing to make the effort for her – and in turn received effort from T’Vel – formed very close bonds with the half-Bajoran, finding her dry sense of humour yet sharp intellect a refreshing take on a typical Vulcan. Eventually, having always been fair to the officers beneath her and honest to those above, she was keenly received as a departmental head, and she quickly rose through the ranks aboard the Nobel, becoming second officer and a full commander by the end of her tenure aboard.
Having earned the recognition of her peers and commanded the vessel during several incidents demanding that, T’Vel was posted to the Luna-class Europa for one of its deep space assignments into the unknown regions of the Alpha Quadrant. The role allowed her to expand more and more in terms of emotional development, and whilst she never necessarily ‘mastered’ her Bajoran side, she nevertheless came more to terms with the way she was, earning more friends – some more intimate than others – in this time. T’Vel received several commendations from her commanding officer and the admiralty for her excellent performance as a a tactician in combat situations, and as a diplomat during first contact scenarios, having been present and responsible for a notable number during her two-year assignment on the vessel.
After this tour of duty, T’Vel was able to put her practical experience and scientific expertise to use as a lead figure in the Century-class Development Project back on Earth, earning her attention from more members of the admiralty at Command. When the project culminated in the commission of several ships of the line, T’Vel requested, and was permitted, a posting as XO aboard the USS Century itself. She served in this capacity for three years on long-term assignments, once again performing diligently and accomplishing several first contacts, before she was made captain of the USS Ceres, one of the advanced – and experimental – Vesta-class starships. As was her talent, Captain T’Vel commanded the vessel during a four-year deep space assignment to the depths of the Beta Quadrant, pushing the boundaries of Federation knowledge of certain areas. During this absence, her son entered Starfleet Academy as a medical student.
Delta Exploration Initiative
Upon her return to local space and in recognition of her achievements, T’Vel was invited to serve as one of the Starfleet representatives within the First Contact Office on Earth. Although his mandated the occasional journey beyond local space, it was generally focused on the management and deployment of resources along diplomatic lines, and providing advice and scrutiny around new developments and incidents, as well as a Starfleet perspective on policy. Gradually, she was appointed the assistant deputy director of the office – along with the honorific rank of ‘fleet captain’ nominally. As the associated Delta Exploration Initiative began to formulate and develop more deeply, she agreed to be the office’s liaison to the Initiative, seeking grand, exciting and important opportunities available in the ‘last’ quadrant. At this point, T’Vel was formally welcomed into the admiralty as a commodore, as befitting her role and title.
With one eye set on further promotion and the other on the stakes involved in the Fourth Fleet’s 38th Task Force, T’Vel applied for the deputy directorship of the Delta Exploration Initiative. With her background and track record, this was accepted, and she took up residence on Starbase 38 in the Barzan System as Admiral Knox’s deputy for the DEI, and second officer for the Task Force.