"FAITH OF THE HEART"
An "Enterprise" story
By Alison M. DOBELL
ARCHIVE: Yes. Just let me know where.
SERIES/SEQUEL: Part 20
SUMMARY": "When members of the crew go suddenly missing, Captain Archer finds the only witness is unable to tell them anything. Lt Reed takes it upon himself to turn detective." The characters and 'Enterprise' belong to Paramount. No infringement of copyright is intended.
* * * * *
Curiosity. Something learned. Sleeping senses stretched like antennae.
Thoughts gathered momentum on the sliding scale that defined the impetus from an object at rest to one in motion. A ripple not in harmony with
consciousness. Delving deeper. Sharpened acuity. Greater stealth.
Mentally alert now. A slow forming suspicion stirred as something ancient
uncoiled in the drifting fabric of space.
The Romulan craft was observed. Followed. Weighed and found wanting.
Witnessing the shadowing of the Enterprise yet still not grasping what it
meant. Then it touched something thought lost. Familiar. Treasured. Now
under threat. In danger. The flexing of a thousand minds conjoined to form
one thought. Propelled by a single immutable purpose. The vessel closed in
on Enterprise. The Chief Engineer stirred in his sleep. Awoke disturbed by
he knew not what. Gazed unseeing through the walls of his prison. Knowing
instinctively that they were in danger. He rose to activate the com but not
The ship rocked violently beneath his feet. He stumbled and fell. Knees
bruised but it was only layers. He had finished with the top layer of skin
anyway. Adrenalin flooded his veins and drove him back to his feet as the
second broadside threw him against the wall. He huffed and tried again to
reach the com just as a sudden stillness descended. No more shots were fired
on his beloved ship. A gentle weariness invaded his consciousness. He
yawned and swayed on his feet, impelled to go to the bench he sat in a daze.
The blankets Malcolm had given him had slid to the floor. He did not
retrieve them. Eyes already closing he lay back down. Falling into a sleep
so deep there would be no memory of it on waking. A wash of tender warmth
bathed his tired mind. Something beautiful flooding his traumatised cells
and loving him as he slept.
* * * * *
Captain Jonathan Archer was baffled. Suspicious. Even hours after the
Romulan ship had departed it still irked him. Part of him wary in case it
was simply waiting for them to drop their guard before resuming the attack.
But that made no tactical sense. Why break off and not go in for the kill?
The vessel had already shown that it could attack them with impunity,
polarised hell plating be damned. It was only the best thing since sliced
bread if it worked. No prizes in a battle for second place. Lieutenant Reed was
anxious. Distressed that Enterprise's first defense had been no defense at
all. He acted as if he personally had let them down. The Captain found
himself glancing at the stiff figure of Sub-Commander T'Pol. A speculative
look on his handsome face. Vulcans and Romulans. Both had crawled out of
the same gene pool. Were they really so different after all?
* * * * *
For a long time Dr. Phlox stood motionless next to a row of rather amazing
and diverse creatures. The unlovely looking bloodworm flexed its' narrowing
waistline at him reminding the doctor that it had yet to feed. He smiled
gently and fed it then murmured soothing words as he respectfully tended each
and every one of them. None of his pets were there for show. Each one had
unique qualities, features that made them a wonderful aid to medical science.
Secretions that far outstripped the effectiveness of anything merely
synthesised to do the job. They were the ultimate purity control and he was
in awe of them. To a doctor the ability to heal was like looking upon the
Hand of God. It did not matter which God, which deity, which all powerful
Being was invoked. The magic of science was only bettered by that of nature.
Red in tooth and claw but the very pattern of all that would follow. The
first imprint. The template for the rest of the Universe to follow. Science
was the ultimate flattery. Creating what it admired and sought to fathom.
Dr. Phlox did not mind the mysteries of the Universe. He courted them. With
respect and an open questing mind. Assuming nothing, accepting everything.
Some truths simply *were*. Like the one that was baffling him now.
He was interrupted from his reverie by the swish of the sickbay doors.
He turned and was surprised to see Lieutenant Anna Hess. The Engineering officer looked traumatised and shaken. The doctor walked over to her and gently guided her to a biobed. Unresisting she sat on it and stared at his face.
"It won't stop, doctor."
He noticed she was cradling herself between the legs. A most curious
gesture for a normally reticent lady. She had dressed in a hurry and it
showed but he was not about to comment on her dishevelled appearance. The
look of barely contained panic in her eyes was enough for him. "What won't
"The blood." She said in a hushed horrified whisper.
He could feel his hair tingling. "Blood?"
She nodded but offered no further information.
"Are you injured?"
"Yes." Lieutenant Hess looked down at her hands, eyes wide. "It's dripping
through my fingers."
Dr Phlox gently eased her hands away but could see nothing to account for
the lieutenant's state of shock and distress. "You must undress lieutenant
so that I may examine you."
She nodded and stood up slowly. Her movements were languid and
exaggerated, as if she were moving through treacle. Dr. Phlox frowned and
watched her face, pretty sure that there would be nothing to see. From her
actions and attitude it was clear to him that the trauma was etched into her
mind not her body. But had the one given rise to the other? Was she
experiencing a reaction to the rape suffered at the hands of the vile
Hirogen? Or was this something else? Something less obvious and more
insidious? She removed the last of her clothing and simply stood before him,
tears welling in unblinking eyes. He felt her sorrow and then a rush of such
elemental power that he could not move or speak for several seconds. He
looked down at his hands in wonder. They glowed. Not in the manner of a
light bulb but with the kind of bioluminscence beloved of nature. His mind
was suffused with a great joy, a deep feeling of content and honour to be so
chosen. He felt a tinge of humour slide through his awestruck mind.
*You wanted this for so long.*
*Yes.* The doctor responded. His heart glad. Fit to burst but curious too. *Why now?*
*You are needed now.*
*I thought you had gone*
*Gone is a very misused word, doctor*
Without being told what to do, Dr. Phlox gently urged Lieutenant Hess to lay on the biobed. She acquiesced without a murmur. Dr Phlox lay one hand on her abdomen and the other on the top of her head. He closed his eyes and let the light flow from his hands into her body. A great energy and feeling of well
being filled him. A joy so intense he felt tears form in his eyes. He tried to see what the presence was doing and was gently advised not to try to see
but to feel. To trust his senses and their merged abilities. In wonder he sensed the healing taking place. On a level hitherto undreamed of. After a
couple of minutes the light pulsed slower and diminished until it was simply
the Denobulan's hands resting on the engineer. He opened his eyes and saw
that hers' were closed. He checked her vital signs and was pleased to note
that she was now calm and sleeping normally. He fetched a sheet and a blanket and laid them over the lieutenant gently so as not to disturb her then drew a curtain around the bed. He would not speak of it unless she did.
*Will she remember?*
*To what end would you trade healing for nightmares?*
He had no answer to that depth of wisdom.
* * * * *
At last they dropped out of warp 4. The Captain knew Travis had a thousand questions he wanted to ask but also knew not one would pass the boomer's lips. He had grown up on freighters. Obedience was the fluid that carried the blood through his veins and Starfleet was the heart that kept it circulating. A more loyal officer he had yet to find but he knew his treatment of Commander Tucker upset the navigation officer's faith in his Captaincy. He simply could not wrap his head around the punishment he had meted out to his longstanding friend. A man who was like the glue that held the Universe together. At least. The one Travis Mayweather inhabited. It was hard for him not to be aware that his crew were eying him differently. Wary and trying hard not to do or say anything to trigger his anger. Inwardly he sighed. Knew he had made a complete ass of himself and worst still, subjected his friend to the full brunt of his temper. He opened a comlink to Engineering. Ensign Connors answered.
"Ensign, where is Lieutenant Hess?"
"I don't know, sir."
He frowned. That was not the answer he had been expecting. "Is this not
the lieutenant's duty shift?"
Lieutnenant Reed and Ensign Hoshi Sato exchanged a worried look. Hoped she had not sneaked off to check up on the Chief Engineer. If she had she could soon be joining him in the brig. Not the most auspicious way to improve one's career prospects. Lieutenant Reed cleared his throat. "Sir?"
"Permission to go down to Engineering."
"For what purpose?"
"The attack from the Romulan vessel should not have been able to
penetrate our polarised plating. I am hoping Lieutenant Hess can help me come up with a way to bolster our defenses."
The Captain's frown deepened slightly. A stirring of discomfort rose its ugly head in his gut and looked him firmly in the eye. He felt guilty. The keen stab of it making him draw in a deep breath before speaking again.
"Be patient a little longer, lieutenant." The Captain stood and turned
towards T'Pol. "Sub-Commander, you have the bridge."
No one spoke but several sets of eyes watched him leave. Lieutenant Reed stared as the door closed behind him. "Where do you suppose he's going?"
Ensign Sato allowed a slow grin to appear on her face. "To see the
Commander, where else?"
T'Pol raised an eyebrow but did not correct her. Travis turned a hopeful
face towards the communications officer. "You think so?"
"Didn't you see how he was shifting around, Travis? Now the anger's
cooling off he feels guilty."
"So he should." Muttered Lieutenant Reed darkly, his voice quiet and unforgiving but easily heard in the still room. He looked up to find every eye on him. "What?"
"What do you mean, *so he should*?" Asked a curious Hoshi. She had rarely heard him ever say or imply any criticism of the Captain.
Lieutenant Reed began to redden. Realised he had almost broken his promise to Trip. He silently cursed himself. "Nothing."
The others exchanged a look. It had not sounded like nothing to them.
* * * * *
The Romulan ship was completely encompassed. The Captain frantic. None
of the controls were responding and he could not determine why. Had the Enterprise mastered some kind of secret technology and unleashed it against
them? No. That could not be possible. If the humans had that kind of
technology they would never have been able to fire on them. No. This was
something else. Something *other*.
He adjusted the neck of his uniform. It was harsh and uncomfortable. For a moment everything shimmered. So quick. So fleeting. He felt a touch of
fear. Mentally bolstered his control over the enhancements. He wanted to
follow Enterprise. Press their advantage but the ship would not move. Angrily he turned on his bridge crew, snapping out orders and trying to find some reason to account for their predicament.
His second in command swallowed carefully. "Captain?"
"Yes, what is it? Have you found out what is wrong?"
"No sir, but according to my instruments the hull is experiencing
The Captain looked baffled. "What kind of pressure?"
A loud creaking sound echoed throughout the superstructure of the ship.
"That kind, sir. It would appear our outer hull is buckling."
"Then stop it! Get engineering crews to fix it immediately!"
"What is it NOW?" Snapped his Captain.
A flicker of shock went through the normally staid crew. "The buckling
is on the outside. We cannot get access to it except by sending teams
outside in pressure suits."
"Then what are you waiting for?"
There was a loud metallic *pop*. No one knew what it was but all of them feared what it might be.
"Sir," Said his second quietly. Face paling. "We are losing pressure.
The interior hull is beginning to buckle."
Just as he said that word further loud cracking and popping sounds
permeated the bridge, the ship shuddered but did not move forward or back.
It was as if it was held in a giant hand. A hand that was slowly and relentlessly squeezing the life out of ship and crew. Yet there was nothing to see. Nothing to detect. Fear began to break down the Captain's control. A loud horrendous crack followed by a huge sustained shudder rocked the ship. Just before the vessel collapsed in on itself the bridge crew panicked completely. Lost their hold on their mental configurations and watched as their carefully planned illusion broke into a million shards and shattered around them. The Captain cried out, his hands flying upward to his face. The Romulan facade crumbling and falling away like ash to reveal his true Suliban nature. Around him his crew had all reverted. Shocked and stunned looks on their genetically altered features. The ruse had worked temporarily but was it enough? Enterprise and her crew thought they had been attacked by Romulans. The fact that it would cost them their lives meant nothing in the grand scheme of things providing the deception worked.
If all went according to plan the Humans and the Romulans would soon be at war. Before the Captain could savour the thought of that victory, his mind snapped. An incredible force finally losing patience. The hand closed. The ship and all that was in it was suddenly reduced to a fine stellar dust.
It vaporised and drifted slowly outward like a funeral shroud, metallic
sparkles reflecting in the ambient light of a distant star. The only trace
element left of the stolen Romulan vessel.
* * * * *
Captain Archer dismissed the guard. Suddenly nervous. Palms sweating.
Uncomfortable and not sure what he was going to say. Now that it came down to it he wanted nothing more than to forget his outburst had ever happened. Yet he was a star ship Captain. He had to maintain discipline otherwise
command would become nothing more than a free for all. He sighed inwardly and watched his friend sleep. His eyes flicking from the cell door to Trip's
supine form. He looked so peaceful that it took him several minutes to
realise he was bathed in perspiration. His skin all but glowing. He frowned. It was not that warm in the brig. Why was he sweating? Concern
began to erode away his indecisiveness. Quickly he stepped into the cell and
stood by his friend's side. It seemed a shame to wake him but he had to know that he was all right. That this rift between them could be fixed. He reached out and gently shook him. There was no response.
He frowned and knelt beside the bed, a hand reaching up to touch Trip's forehead. He was burning. The touch caused the Commander to stir. Hope leapt in the Captain's heart. "Trip?"
The Commander mumbled something incoherent. Captain Archer lowered his head the better to hear him, his hand moving down to rest gently on the Commander's chest. He felt him shudder at his touch, a low deep groan of pain shaking him more than the Romulan attack had done. He straightened, expression anxious. Something was wrong. He toyed with calling the doctor straight away but what would he do or say if it turned out his friend had simply een having a nightmare? He really did not want to heap any further embarrassment on either himself or Trip. Carefully he put his hand on his
chest again. Another pained groan. His frown deepened. Carefully he
unzipped the top of Trip's uniform to get a look at him. What he saw shocked him rigid.
"Oh God, Trip! Why didn't you tell me?"
He jumped to his feet and hit the com. "Dr. Phlox! I need you in the brig, NOW!"
* * * * *
Sub-Commander T'Pol was definitely not amused. The Captain avoided eye contact but he could feel her searing orbs burn right through him. The
silent accusation lay firmly at his door. This was *his* fault. He tried
to ignore her. Pacing anxiously outside sickbay while the doctor examined the Commander was driving him nuts. He wanted to be inside that room. Through that door. He stopped pacing and stared hard at the closed door. He was the Captain, damn it. This was *his* ship. His. And Trip was a member of his crew. His Chief Engineer and best friend. How could he stand out here in the corridor when heaven knew what was going on behind that closed door? He took a step towards it and stopped. What did he think he was doing? If the doctor wanted him inside sickbay he would not be wearing a hole in the corridor outside. He sucked in a breath then turned and deliberately looked the Sub-Commander in the eye.
"I'm sorry for going over the top, Sub-Commander, but I did not cause
this condition. I'm as worried about Trip as you are."
She just looked at him. Something hard and unforgiving rising to the
surface of those impossibly inky depths. He caught his breath.
The look shifted. The hardness buried under something else. Something
that did not raise its head into the light of day. "Yes, Captain?"
"I intend to make it up to Trip."
A perfectly sculpted brow arched back at him. Her look was ironic. He marveled that she could get that amount of subtlety into such an unmoving face. Or was it simply that he had never looked before? Was that what Trip
saw when he looked at her? Someone subtle and passionate and witty? Where he saw a blank slate did Trip see the potential of untold Universes? He wished he could see his friend and ask him. Then another thought struck him
and hit him hard. What if he did not want to talk to him again? He had,
after all, given him thirty days in the brig, removed his rank, AND threatened to have him thrown out of Starfleet. Everything that mattered a damn to his friend had been deliberately ripped from him in five minutes of blind anger. He closed his eyes and felt the shame percolate through him. *Oh God* He would be lucky if Trip ever spoke to him again let alone forgave him. When he opened his eyes he was surprised to see something that might have been concern on the Sub-Commander's face.
"Are you all right, Captain?"
He managed a half hearted smile but it quickly vanished with nothing to sustain it. Just an illusion. "No, T'Pol, I am not. To be perfectly honest
I feel ashamed of myself."
The Sub-Commander said nothing. She was watching him closely now. He
stopped trying to fathom out what she was thinking. It was time for some straight talking and it might as well be now. Before his nerve deserted him.
"I know I asked you and Trip to cool things down. Not to create an
incident that would give the Vulcan High Command an excuse to cancel the
mission. I didn't understand that Vulcan biology was a lot more aggressive
and complicated than that of humans. Once mated the male and female would
bond. Become necessarily inseparable. I didn't know you would both suffer
if parted. I never let Trip explain, I just went off the deep end. Felt let
*Jealous?* Thought the Sub-Commander. She did not voice the hought.
"Now, I've not only endangered you and Trip, I've probably lost the best friend I ever had."
She saw that this was the crux of the problem. The Captain's insecurities. His need to hang on to what he had no matter how that grip stifled what he treasured the most. "The Commander is not a vindictive man,
Captain." Said the Vulcan softly, her insight surprising him.
Just then the door whispered open and Dr Phlox stood to one side to allow them into the sickbay. Captain Archer stepped in cautiously, looking to the
doctor for reassurance. Not so the Sub-Commander. Let the Captain angst all he wanted, she had to see her mate. Make sure he was alright. Reaffirm
their bond. She strode passed the Captain and doctor without looking at them, her focus entirely on the biobed where Trip lay with his eyes closed.
As she stopped at his side his eyes fluttered open and locked on to hers. A great wash of emotion flooded his mind from her. Both were almost delirious with relief.
*I thought I was going to lose you, beloved.*
He smiled for her. *Ya can't get rid of me that easily, darlin'. I'm
here for the long haul.*
T'Pol smiled gently then cupped her hand against his burning cheek and leant down to kiss him. Trip pulled her into his embrace, the Sub-Commander
melting into him as the kiss deepened. Captain Archer stared. Dr. Phlox
tried to hide the smile on his face but it was a lost cause. He touched the
Captain's shoulder and indicated for him to go with him. Reluctantly the
Captain went with the doctor to his room just off sickbay. "I think we
should give them their privacy, Captain." Said the doctor quietly.
Captain Archer nodded. Stunned. It seemed his apology would have to wait a little longer. Dr. Phlox said nothing. Did not let the Captain know that he could hear his thoughts. Even if the effect was temporary he was startled by how much he had already learnt. Soon he would have to decide what to do with his knowledge. But first he needed to make sure that all was well with the crew. That they could stand the revelations he carried. And that they could survive the ramifications of retrieving what was lost.
* * * * *
Continue to Part 21
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Three people have made comments
oh my... what is going on! oh i like.
how are you managing to maintain this great story line? I'm REALLY enjoying it. Keep it coming.