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ROUND ROBIN #4: Silk and Subterfuge - 4
Round Robin #4:
Continuing to a new page to leave more room for comments. THUS
Page 4 The CONCLUSION
Six hours earlier:
Enterprise sat in geosynchronous orbit over the presumed crash site of the Suliban cell ship which had been discovered missing from her landing bay shortly after the disappearance of three of her senior officers. Archer sat in the command chair… waiting. His eyes were glued to the forward viewscreen, which gave him a lovely view of the pristine oceans of Kalos V, but nothing else.
“Anything yet, Ensign?” he asked Hoshi hopefully. The young communications officer was monitoring comm traffic between the three Rigellian patrol ships that had been flying search patterns over the area when they arrived. The tentacled and stern-faced security officer in command of the search detail had warned them off quite firmly, insisting that Enterprise remain in high orbit and refrain from joining in the search. It was an incredibly frustrating situation.
“My Rigellian’s not what it should be, but I think one of the ships said something about having survivors in custody, sir,” she replied, meeting his eyes with a relieved expression.
Archer nodded and sat back in his chair, exhaling heavily. He smiled ruefully at her. “Well… at least that’s something,” he replied. He turned to Lt. J.G. Sanderson at tactical.
“Any idea where they’re going, Lieutenant?”
The tow-headed, blue-eyed lieutenant was startled at being directly addressed by the captain, and looked up from the sensor display he’d been intently studying.
“The lead ship seems to be heading for a group of underwater structures about ten klicks from the probable crash site, Captain.” He looked down at his sensors again, and his jaw dropped. He looked up with a startled expression.
“The Rigellian ships just dove into the water without stopping, sir. They’re submersible!” he stated in amazement.
Archer shook his head in disgust. “Well, there goes the idea of just following them down in the shuttle,” he replied. His eyes returned to the lieutenant. “Try to get a lock on human or Vulcan biosigns down there,” he ordered.
Sanderson shook his head. “Sorry, sir, but I’ve already tried to pick up biosigns in the underwater structures. They’re just too deep, sir. There’s no way to get a clear signal.”
Archer nodded and sat back into his chair again. It seemed that he would have to rely on his friends’ ingenuity to get them close enough to the surface to retrieve them. He stared grimly at the beautiful view. Things didn’t look very promising.
“Captain, I’m receiving an encrypted subspace message,” interjected Hoshi into the silence on the bridge.
Archer turned to her with a puzzled expression. “Where’s it coming from?”
Hoshi listened for a moment. Then she raised her eyes to his. “I can’t tell… but it’s marked ‘Eyes Only’ and addressed to you, sir.”
Archer sighed. It was probably too much to hope for, but he sincerely wished that someone would tell him what the hell was going on.
“I’ll take it in my ready room, Ensign,” he told her as he rose from the command chair. “Mr. Sanderson, you have the bridge.” The young lieutenant’s eyes widened as he followed Archer’s retreating back into the ready room. Sanderson left the tactical station, and after an encouraging smile from Hoshi, sat rather gingerly on the edge of the command chair and fixed his attention on the forward view screen. Hoshi smirked a bit as she turned back to her station. Sanderson was so cute when he was scared to death.
Archer seated himself at the table in his ready room and activated the console, bringing up the mystery message. Initially, all he got was a blank screen. Then the Starfleet Intelligence Seal became visible. Instead of live video, the next screen image was a still photograph of a dark-haired solemn-faced female intelligence officer. The service record accompanying the photograph was sketchy at best. Although the officer pictured had been awarded the Starfleet Service Medal and the British Navy Cross for valor in combat, the circumstances were apparently highly classified and did not appear on record. The young woman was attractive in a rather businesslike manner… and she looked familiar somehow. Archer realized why he found her familiar when he read her name… Lieutenant Commander Madeline Reed.
“Malcolm never tells me anything,” murmured Archer in a rather disgruntled voice. Upon reflection, he decided that the omission wasn’t surprising. The closed-mouthed tactical officer had always been less than forthcoming about his personal life. Perhaps he found it embarrassing that his sister had been a highly decorated member of the British Navy before joining Starfleet… and apparently now outranked him.
The service record was accompanied by a text message bearing the seal of Starfleet Intelligence, and signed by the fabled Commodore Jeffrey Harris, a semi-mythical figure rarely seen by anyone not directly involved with covert operations. It contained orders requiring him to provide “complete cooperation” with the operative identified in the transmission.
Archer read the document in silence, and then sent the accompanying ID code to Ensign Sato’s work station with a written order to begin scanning for transmissions bearing that ID. His orders forbade any further explanations, but he was confident of Hoshi’s discretion. Information regarding the operation in which the crew of Enterprise had somehow gotten itself entangled was apparently to be doled out on a “need to know” basis, and not even he needed to know. He exhaled heavily, and then pushed back from the table to rejoin the others on the bridge. This was going to be interesting. He wondered what “complete cooperation” with young Ms. Reed’s mission was going to entail. Whatever it was, he hoped that it included the rescue of his bridge officers. He felt confident that it would. Lieutenant Commander Reed didn’t look like the type who’d let anyone mess with her brother.
“You okay?” he asked her softly, in a concerned tone.
She exhaled shakily and kept her eyes forward. “Vulcans do not experience motion sickness,” she replied quietly through clenched teeth. Then she swallowed with a determined expression on her face. “Unfortunately, your digestive upset seems to be transmitted quite well through the bond.”
He smiled at her apologetically. “I guess it’s good you knocked Malcolm out, then,” he replied with a rueful smile. “I don’t think I could take hearin’ what he’d be doin’ about now.”
T’Pol’s eyes met his briefly in dismay, and then immediately returned to the horizon. “Indeed,” she replied dryly.
The small waterproof transmitter-receiver that Maddie Reed had been fiddling with again for the past half-hour as she floated serenely on her back beside the pod suddenly crackled to life.
“This is the Enterprise responding to your transmission,” came Hoshi’s voice through the static. “We are approaching your position. Be advised that a Rigellian patrol ship and an Orion Trade Syndicate ship are also in the vicinity. Prepare for retrieval via matter transporter.”
Maddie’s voice was suddenly transformed into that of a commanding officer addressing a subordinate.
“Enterprise, transport us directly to Sickbay,” she briskly replied. “We have a crewman requiring immediate medical attention. For the safety of your ship and crew, I will also require an enclosure impervious to EM radiation, a dissecting microscope, and tools for the construction and repair of microcircuitry.”
There was dead silence on the other end. T’Pol raised an inquiring brow, her nausea forgotten in her curiosity, and exchanged a glance with Trip, who’d just been looking at Malcolm’s sister as if she’d grown two heads.
“Acknowledged,” replied Hoshi in an unflustered voice, as if Maddie Reed’s extravagant demands were something she’d heard dozens of times before. “Activating transport now…”
“Was he injured, Doctor? Why is he out?” He craned his neck over the Denobulan’s shoulder as Phlox placed a hand on his chest and stopped him in his tracks, smiling reassuringly.
“Lieutenant Reed is just fine, Captain… he simply required sedation for his role in the escape,” said Phlox. “He’ll be waking up in a few hours.”
Archer paused for a moment, eyes widening in sudden comprehension. “His water phobia…” he breathed. His eyes returned to his unconscious crewmate and friend, and then back to Phlox. “He must have been terrified!” he said with horrified sympathy.
Phlox smiled and shook his head. “Don’t worry, Captain… the others took excellent care of him.”
Archer’s eyes searched Sickbay, then. “Where are the others?” he asked in puzzlement.
Phlox beckoned him toward the video cameras monitoring the decon chamber. They stood side-by-side watching the scene of intense concentration taking place in the chamber. A serious, dark-haired, very buxom young woman in a bright neon-red wetsuit sat at the makeshift table that Phlox had set up in the decon chamber… the largest and most easily accessible EM radiation-proof chamber on board ship. She was staring intently through the eyepieces of a dissection microscope at the source of all their troubles. The brooch was deceptively innocent in appearance as it lay there with its internal workings exposed. At intervals, she extended a hand to one side or the other. The two commanders, also dressed in wetsuits, sat at her right and left hands, handing her instruments as she required them. The three of them operated as one… a single word from her sufficed.
“What are they doing?” whispered Archer. There was no reason to whisper. There was no way that the trio could be disturbed by his words, isolated as they were within the soundproof chamber, but the obvious gravity of the situation seemed to warrant it.
“I believe that they are attempting to deactivate the device… or perhaps to remove the homing beacon incorporated within it,” replied Phlox softly. Sickbay was so quiet as they watched the three work that both of them jumped when the comm came to life.
“Sanderson to Sickbay!” called a nervous voice. “You’re needed on the bridge, Captain!”
Archer turned to Phlox and met his eyes. “Make sure she gets what she needs, Doctor. Sounds like our persistent friends have found us again,” he told him with a wry grin. Then he exited Sickbay with all speed. Sanderson sounded like he was about to panic. That couldn’t be good.
Lieutenant Sanderson gave the angry Rigellian his best attempt at a conciliatory smile. It looked more like a terrified grimace.
“The captain is on his way,” he reassured the angry patrol officer. “I’m sure that when he gets here, we’ll be able to solve this problem without resorting to violence.”
Ensign Sato spoke up. “The Orions have arrived, and they’re hailing us as well, Lieutenant. Should I open a channel?” Sanderson’s eyes widened, and then his face broke into a relieved smile as Jonathan Archer stepped out of the turbolift and onto the bridge.
“Let me guess…” he began wryly as he took the command chair from Sanderson, “… we’re stuck in the middle again, aren’t we?” Hoshi smirked a little at that.
“I have the Rigellians and the Orions for you, Captain,” she told him in a resigned tone. “Which one would you like to speak with first?”
Maddie watched him go with a frankly admiring expression, and then turned to T’Pol.
“So… Commander,” she said teasingly, “… is he as yummy as he looks?”
T’Pol said nothing… but her brow raise spoke volumes.
“It’s useless for you to try to deceive us, Harrad-Sar,” replied the Rigellian fiercely. “Our sensors have already revealed your treachery. Your insistence on boarding the Earth vessel is a ruse. The stolen property is already aboard your ship.” There was a pause. An indistinct murmur of voices could be heard in the background of the Orion transmission.
“You lying piece of Rigellian filth! The device is on your ship! These negotiations are over,” retorted the Orion in a cold and threatening tone.
“Captain, the Rigellian ship is moving away, sir. The Orions have locked weapons and are in pursuit,” said Sanderson in a perplexed tone of voice. “I don’t think either of them even notices that we’re here anymore.”
Archer chuckled and nodded. “Take us out of orbit and the hell out of this system, Mr. Mayweather… Make our speed warp four as soon as we clear domestic shipping lanes.”
“Aye, Captain,” replied Travis with a grin.
Archer reached for the comm. “Bridge to transporter room… Good job, Trip!” he said with a smile, “… and it’s great to have you back!”
“Wasn’t me, Cap’n… all I did was deliver the bait,” protested the chief engineer. “I take it from the sound of your voice that we got a bite.”
Archer laughed aloud. “Two of them, Trip! Remind me to bring you along the next time I go fishing!”
“I was just making sure he was all right… you know… after all that water,” she said diffidently. She smiled shyly at Maddie Reed and shrugged. “He’s obviously fine, so I guess I’ll be going now.” Her eyes returned to Malcolm’s sleeping face, and then returned to Maddie’s. “There’s no reason to tell him I came by,” she said wistfully. As she turned to leave, Maddie called out softly.
“I’m sure he’d be happy that you did, though.” She released her brother’s hand and stepped around the bed to offer her hand to Hoshi. “I’m Malcolm’s sister, Madeline. I’m not sure if you remember me, but we spoke a couple of years ago when you were trying to find out what Malcolm liked to eat… remember?”
Hoshi took Maddie’s hand, and her face broke into a relieved smile. “I didn’t recognize you. It’s nice to see you again.”
Maddie returned her smile with a friendly one of her own. “Mally probably won’t wake up for another couple of hours yet. Let’s go get something to eat, and you can tell me what he’s been up to for the past couple of years.”
The two young women exited Sickbay together without noticing the engineer’s presence behind the curtain on the opposite side of Malcolm’s stretcher. Trip Tucker grinned and shook his head. Malcolm was definitely in trouble now.
“Welcome aboard, Lieutenant Commander,” he said politely. Hoshi’s eyes widened as she turned to look at the other woman.
Maddie Reed gave Archer a reproving smile. “I’m Maddie… or Ms. Reed, if you must, Captain. I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t call me anything else… especially around Malcolm,” she continued in a confiding tone. “He doesn’t know… and I’d just as soon not hurt his feelings by having him find out.” She grinned mischievously. “When you recommend him for promotion, though, be sure and let me know. Once we’re of equal rank, I’ll enjoy teasing him about getting there first.”
Archer nodded and gave her a slightly puzzled smile. Her flippant tones didn’t mesh at all with the impression that he’d gotten of her from her service record.
“Will you be on board for long… Ms. Reed?” he asked obligingly. The turbolift opened again, and he walked along with the two women, who were obviously heading toward the dining hall. The corridor was deserted. Maddie Reed paused and turned toward him. Hoshi stood behind her with a look of curiosity on her face.
“My ride will arrive the day after tomorrow, Captain,” replied Maddie softly. Her eyes met Archer’s. She smiled impishly. He licked his lips and did not look down. “In the meantime, how about an invitation to the captain’s mess tomorrow night? I’d like to meet the hero of the Xindi Conflict… up close and personal…” she breathed.
Archer smiled weakly. Okay… so maybe her attributes didn’t get in the way when she decided to go after what she wanted.
Vulcans do not pace, she reminded herself firmly. She deliberately knelt in the center of the room facing a meditation candle, and made an attempt to meditate. The room seemed chilled despite the fact that the thermostat was set as high as it would go. The effect was very likely due to the way that she was dressed, she decided. She stood to inspect herself in the bathroom mirror. The red silk ensemble followed the curves of her body in an esthetically pleasing manner. She’d replaced the brooch with a single oversized pearl button fastened between her breasts. Her eyes narrowed. Her breasts were not as large as those of Madeline Reed… but then, other portions of her anatomy were also less opulent. Commander Tucker seemed to prefer size over muscularity when it came to certain portions of the female anatomy.
Vulcans do not experience jealousy, she informed herself succinctly. I will change into warmer clothing if he does not arrive within the next five minutes.
Then she seated herself once again in the center of the room to wait.
Seven minutes later, the door chime rang. She had not yet changed. The impatience which burned from the other side of the door could have no other source.
“Enter,” she called, deliberately keeping the eagerness from her voice. The door opened, and then closed behind him. T’Pol stood, and met Trip’s eyes. He was freshly shaved and showered. She inhaled deeply. The scent was pleasant. The effort that he had made to make himself presentable for her was commendable, but the expression on his face was even more gratifying. His eyes widened as he took in her appearance. He smiled, and she could sense his mounting arousal.
“You look… amazing!” he told her softly. He approached her, and reached out to stroke her silk-clad shoulder with his fingertips, running his hand down her arm to the warm skin of her wrist.
“I am… pleased… that you find my appearance acceptable,” she said blandly, ignoring the involuntary shiver that his touch provoked.
“Acceptable?” he chuckled, raising his eyes from her body to her face again, “T’Pol… you know very well that I think you’re the most….” He stopped. Her expression must have revealed something she did not intend, for she could feel his surprise in the bond.
“You don’t know, do you?” he whispered. T’Pol raised a brow and waited for clarification. He gazed back at her in frustration, and then seemed to have an epiphany.
“It’s the thing with Maddie Reed, isn’t it… the way I reacted to her… um… size?” he asked with a hesitant smile. T’Pol said nothing, but she didn’t deny it. Her brow was still up.
Trip shook his head and laughed. T’Pol was not amused.
“T’Pol… she’s huge! How could I not notice?” Trip protested. T’Pol’s expression didn’t change. Trip appeared to immediately sense that his current approach was not getting him anywhere. He reached for T’Pol and pulled her toward him. She resisted for a second, and then allowed him to pull her against his body. At the moment that their bodies made contact, she sensed an increase in his respiratory rate. His eyes met hers. Warmth burned through her. It wasn’t simply sexual. She sensed his need for her… for all of her, not just her physical body. He craved her presence… required it the way he needed food and water… in the same way that she required his.
“Feel that?” he murmured. Her eyes were fixed on his.
“Yes…” she whispered. He lowered his head until his lips were a fraction of a centimeter above her right ear. Her eyes closed involuntarily.
“Believe me when I say this, then…” he whispered. She felt his breath on her cheek, caressing her ear. “You’re it. You’re the one. There’s no one else for me… ever. I …”
T’Pol turned her head. His lips were waiting for hers. It was all the proof she needed.
Have a comment to make about this story? Do so in the Trip Fan Fiction forum at the HoTBBS!
A whole mess of folks have made comments
Great job Distracted! I love the ending and T\T dialog and everything else. I'm sad to see this Round Robin end. Will there be another?
thank you, thank you, thank you!
What a way to wrap it up! Great one...
Nice wrap-up, Distracted. Gotta wonder about Polly though - is there ANY doubt that she's the only one that Trip has eyes for? ;)
Now Rigil, even a Vulcan can have her moments of doubt. I actually enjoyed playing with the jealousy/uncertainty dynamic from T'Pol's POV. I don't have the chance to do that with my other stories, since the TnT relationship has progressed beyond the initial stages in those. This was fun.
Awesome job! I knew you'd find a great way to end this. I'm loving that last T/T scene, girl! It's just perfect. We get T'Pol talking to herself so she'll keep her Vulcan face on and then Trip's "typical guy reaction" to the large-breasted Maddie. Very cute. But in the end, it's obvious that Trip and T'Pol are meant for one another. Of course...a little bit of heat never hurts either. :) Love the Maddie character too. And I noticed that you even managed to sneak in a bit of Malcolm/Hoshi as well. This Round Robin was fun to read and fun to participate in. I hope we have another one some time.
love the ending
Bether... did you notice the Clipping Clue-pons moment? I'll give you a hint. The third person POV was Maddie's.
Great job, Distracted!! This was a pretty succesful RR, I would say. :)
Wonderful ending Distracted!!! Let the squabbling species do their thing while Enterprise quietly slips away. LOL - great!
LOVED the Maddie and Hoshi scene. Yes, Mally's going to wish he'd been awake to stop that! LOL!!
And that little vixen going after Archer! Her brother's commanding officer!!! Guess there's nothing Maddie Reed won't do! LOL!!!
Yes Maddy, as a matter of fact, Trip Tucker is as yummy as they come!
Thank you, to all those involved in this round robin, it was great, extremely well thought out & very good for the escapism bug I love so much. As for you Distracted! Lovely job on this installment now... Get back to your studies you slacker so you can get back to Virtual Season 6 in August!!! ;-D
OOOkay... sigh. Did I ever mention that writing is just so much more FUN than studying?
All right... all right. I'm going. : )
Thank you, everyone, doing this round robin. It was great.
And especially to Distracted! What an awesome way to wrap it up! I absolutely loved it!
I just want to say also, thanks to all the wonderful talented authors who have contributed to this RR.
All I can say is...well not say, but do.... *Stands and applauds* Well done everyone.
Great Round Robin, looking forward to the next one. Great last chapter and conclusion distracted.
Outstanding ending! And you're right -- Trip really is yummy. T'Pol really has him figured out. Always go for the red silk lingerie. Great round robin everyone. Thank you.
The last scene is breathtaking. I really enjoyed this one.
"Breathtaking"... wow. Thanks. : D
This one would be great to see illustrated somehow - turned into a comic -- sorry I mean graphic novella!
Yay! Happy endings are my favourite! Great story, all, and well done! :)
Excellent ending Distracted. Very well done. Thanks to everyone involved. Geat job.
This has been an exceptionally good read. All of the contributers have done a great job - well done! Nice ending Distracted.
I love the Maddie character, she's turned out to be a hoot. Love the big boob thing as well, in 150 years time men will men still be lusting after big boobs? - Probably!!