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The Hounds of War
Author - Angel | H | Main Story | Rating - PG | T | Virtual Season 5
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The Hounds of War
By: Angel Koerkel
Disclaimers: I don’t own Enterprise, Star Trek, or any of the series characters. This is for entertainment only.
Notes: Thanks for all the positive feedback to “Moving Forward”! In answer to some of the questions I received: yes, this will be (hopefully) a virtual season, or more accurately a mini-season. Probably around a half-dozen episodes or so. I am more than open to anyone who wants to collaborate, perhaps writing their own episode. Please contact me privately if you’re interested at: email@example.com.
A Virtual Season Five Series
Second in the series.
Return to The Virtual Series Five SeriesMENU page
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Episode 2: The Hounds of War
The phased energy blast rocked the very foundation of the building. Sha’rol felt it shake as she crawled across the floor. Broken glass and rubble imbedded in her delicate palms and knees, but she ignored the pain. It was nothing compared to the ache coming from the side of her head anyway. Reaching up, she swiped her arm across her eyes to clear the thick, pink blood that settled there.
Another explosion shook the world and caused Sha’rol to fall flat onto her stomach. Moaning softly, she pulled herself back up once the building stopped moving. She resumed her painstakingly slow movement. ‘Almost there,’ she thought. ‘Just a little further.’
At last, her hand reached up and grasped the counter. She dragged herself up to standing. Looking over the panel, she grew angry. Furiously, she began banging on the darkened controls. “NO!” she yelled. “It can’t be!”
She’d known that there was little chance the communications relay would still be functional, but had managed to convince herself that if she could just get there, it would be okay. Now she was faced with the reality of not being able to call for help.
Regaining her temper, she set about trying to jury-rig the panel just long enough to get a message out. It took her nearly an hour, with the building threatening to collapse the entire time, but finally she’d done it. She looked over the quick work one last time before hitting the record button.
“This is Ramy Four. We need help. We are under attack by an unknown alien vessel. We are peaceful people and our planet is defenseless. Please hurry.”
With the message complete, Sha’rol depressed the transmit key and then slumped down to the floor. She’d barely made contact with the surface before the walls began to shake again. Closing her eyes, she didn’t see the ceiling crash down upon her, sending the entire building plummeting to the planet’s surface.
“Trip, may we speak?” The words were barely a whisper, but he heard them loud and clear.
T’Pol’s eyes met Tucker’s as they faced each other across the small space. He raised his hand to her hesitantly and waited anxiously until she reached out and clasped it firmly. They pulled together and their bodies met.
Almost instantly, Trip began stroking her hair as she clasped his back tighter. “I’m so sorry, darlin’,” he muttered against her chestnut locks. She pulled back slightly to look into his face.
“Why are you apologizing?” she asked as her pain lessened in the comfort of his embrace.
Taking a deep breath, he began. “I’m sorry for making you feel like you owed me something. I’m sorry for being too weak to be strong for you.” He bowed his head. “I’m sorry I couldn’t save her.”
She placed her finger under his chin and raised his eyes to hers once again. “That is the most illogical thing you have ever said.” He actually smiled at her gentle teasing. “Trip, you are the strongest man I know. And, I do owe you something, myself. As for the rest,” she paused as they stared at each other with fresh pain in their hearts. “No one could have saved her.”
They separated slightly as they both breathed deeply, calming the rising tide of emotions. “It is I who owe you an apology. The past year has been…difficult for me. First, we lost Lorian. Then there was my mockery of a marriage and the loss of my mother. When Elizabeth died as well, I did not know how to control the pain any longer, but now I know what I – we - need.” She met his gaze with her own and continued, “I have been selfish with my sorrow. If you will allow me, I would appreciate it if we could help each other through this difficult time.”
In answer, he drew her tight against him once more.
Enterprise cruised along at a comfortable warp 2.7, finally resuming her long-stalled mission of exploration. Captain Archer sat back in his command chair, reviewing the daily reports of half a dozen department heads. As he chuckled softly at some comment, Hoshi captured his attention.
“Captain?” she said. “We’re receiving a signal. Audio only, it’s a recorded message.”
“Let’s hear it,” he answered, instantly alert.
A sharp hiss, followed by crackling static, cried out over the speaker system. Sato pressed a few buttons and turned a dial as the sound cleared up enough to make out a voice between the pops and hisses.
“That’s all I can get, sir,” the communications officer offered.
Nodding in understanding, Archer turned to her. “Who’s it from? Do we have a location?”
“It’s coming from a planet in the Ramy system.”
T’Pol spoke up for the first time as she looked into her viewer, consulting her computer. “Confirmed sir. Ramy Four is a Minshara class planet. Vulcan encountered them nearly two centuries ago, but the population was isolationistic and did not desire further contact. They are warp capable, but use their technology only for exploration close to their home planet.”
“All right, well now they’re asking for help.” Archer paced the length of the bridge, stopping behind the helmsman. “Ensign Grik, set a course for Ramy. Warp 5.”
The senior staff was gathered around the conference table, listening to the recorded distress call. As the message completed, Hoshi shut it off.
“That’s all we know,” the Captain said. “We should arrive at Ramy Four within,” he looked to T’Pol.
“Two days, ten hours, twenty-two minutes, sir.”
“Two and a half days,” Archer continued with a smile toward his first officer. Turning serious again, he continued, “I expect all departments at top efficiency. We don’t know what we’ll find when we get there. It may be a rescue mission for survivors; it may be a defensive mission against their attacker. We need to be ready for anything.” He met the experienced gazes of his crew around the table and was filled with a sense of pride. They would be prepared for whatever this mission held. “Dismissed.”
As the room quickly emptied, the Captain called out, “Trip? Would you stay a minute?”
A puzzled frown crossed the Engineer’s face, but he remained and moved closer to his commanding officer and friend.
When everyone else had gone, he turned toward him. “Yes, Cap’n?”
“How are you?” Archer waved off the pat answer he was about to receive. “I mean, really. How are you? How’s T’Pol?” He paused while he debated within himself whether to continue before deciding to go on. “You know, as Captain, I’m supposed to discourage fraternization. But, as your friend,” he trailed off, suddenly not sure how to finish the thought.
With a heavy sigh, Trip pulled a hand through his hair. “I’m not gonna lie to you, it’s been rough. But, it’s getting better, a little bit every day. Me and T’Pol, well, we’re finally starting to help each other.” He looked at his long-time friend. “Thanks for asking.”
Commander Tucker entered the mess hall followed by T’Pol. Together they went to gather up their meals. As she placed a small salad on her tray and started to turn away, Trip placed his hand firmly on her arm and pulled her back to the food counter. Their voices were too low to be heard, but his face appeared irritated.
“I can’t believe that!” Grik said softly to Lieutenant Reed as they watched the scene from their table.
“What?” Reed asked.
Looking sideways toward his companion, the young Tellarite officer whispered excitedly, “That! He touched her arm! I thought Vulcans hated to be touched.”
Smiling, Reed resumed his eating as if nothing had happened. “Yes, well, Commanders T’Pol and Tucker are very close.”
Grik’s snout crinkled in what Reed had come to recognize as a look of doubt or question. “I don’t understand, sir.”
“Sometimes, even the staunchest of preconceptions needs to be challenged, Ensign.” Reed smirked at the young officer.
At their table in the corner, Tucker prepared to dig into his meat and potato dinner as T’Pol picked daintily at the greens scattered around her plate. “I still say you needed to take more food, T’Pol,” he admonished.
“I appreciate your concern, Commander; however, my salad is sufficient to meet my nutritional needs today.” Her reply would’ve seemed curt to anyone listening, but Trip felt her sincere gratitude at his care. Their relationship had remained as undefined as ever, but he could still feel the gentle swell of emotion along the bond they shared.
A jolt of frustration flared within him as he thought of the ambiguous nature of their relationship, but he squelched it quickly. There would time for them later, when they were healed.
Hoshi Sato sat hunched over her communications console. Her brow furrowed in concentration as she replayed the distress call repeatedly, each time trying different combinations of algorithms hoping for a clearer message, more details, anything that might help them prepare. Lost as she was in her world of mathematics and sound waves, she didn’t notice the set of eyes resting on her back.
Jonathan Archer tried not to stare at the bent figure of his communications officer. It wasn’t easy. Sure, he’d noticed she was an attractive woman before, but lately, after everything that had happened with Trip and T’Pol, something was different. Gradually, he’d found that he thought of the lovely Ensign more and more often. ‘Ensign,’ he thought as he shook himself out of his reverie. ‘No matter how beautiful she is, no matter how intelligent, kind, caring, adventurous, no matter any of it. She’s an ensign! On your ship, Jon!’ he reminded himself with a sharp mental slap.
A questioning tap on the shoulder brought the Captain back to the present reality. Looking up, he saw the broad smile of Dr. Phlox. “Ah, Captain, I’m sorry to interrupt, I just wanted to bring you my departmental status report before going to dinner.”
“That’s fine, Doctor. Thank you,” he said taking the proffered padd. Rising, he headed toward the turbolift with the Denobulan physician. “Dinner sounds like a great idea. Mind if I join you?”
Lieutenant Reed watched over his console as he adjusted the controls for the phase cannons. A power spike registered as he flipped the input switch, but with a practiced hand he returned the flow to its proper readings.
Across the bridge, Archer paced. Pausing at the railing nearest Hoshi, he asked, “Anything yet, Ensign?”
“No, sir. Still nothing.”
As he was about to resume his aimless walk, T’Pol spoke up. “Captain? I’m reading an energy surge. It’s located at the coordinates for Ramy Four, sir. We should be arriving there momentarily.”
Nodding, Archer went to his seat. “Keep monitoring, T’Pol. Any other ships around? Any idea what the energy surge is?”
“There are no other ships present,” she answered, bowed over her viewer so that her face was softly illuminated. “The energy reading seems to be coming from the planet’s surface.”
Enterprise glided into a high orbit as she completed her scans. “Life signs?” the Captain asked.
Looking up, T’Pol answered, “None, sir.” Her tone was soft, almost regretful.
He stared at her intensely, not daring to believe what he’d heard. “None? How is that possible? According to our records in the Vulcan database, this planet had a population of millions.”
“Unknown, Captain. The energy picked up by sensors appears to be a residual fluctuation from a massive weapon.”
“All right, Reed,” the Captain turned to face his Armory Officer, “you’re with me and get a MACO, too.” Now Archer toggled a switch on his chair. “Archer to Engineering. Trip? You there?”
“Trip, meet me in the shuttle bay.”
“On my way, sir.” An audible click disconnected the channel.
“T’Pol, you have the bridge.” Archer strode purposefully to the turbolift, followed closely by Reed.
A short time later, the Enterprise team was walking sadly along what had obviously been a major thoroughfare. Their radiation suits shone brightly in the afternoon sun. They stepped carefully around the bodies lying haphazardly all over the path.
“According to the Vulcan database, this was the capital city.” Archer shook his head solemnly. “What could have caused this?”
“I don’t know, sir, but I don’t think the radiation was the only culprit.” Tucker pointed ahead toward where the road ended in what had been an ornately decorated circular pathway. At the farthest point, a mountain of rubble lay.
“That would’ve been the capital building,” Reed said. Even with his fondness for blowing things up, the weapons expert felt nauseated by the destruction that surrounded them.
Archer nodded in reluctant acceptance. “Okay, let’s see if we can find out what happened here. Trip, you head over that way,” he indicated what appeared to be another government building lining the street and the MACO walking with them. “Take Corporal Tomlinson with you, and see if you can find a computer, some kind of recording, anything that might give us a clue. Reed, you’re with me.” With that, the small group separated.
Several hours later, Trip stared at his reflection. His door chime sounded abruptly and he wrapped a towel around his lower half before calling out, “Come in.”
T’Pol walked majestically into the small room. She sized up the engineer in one quick motion. Sensing his need, she approached and reached out to him. She placed her hand along his cheek and drew his face gently to her. “How are you, Trip?” Her whispered tone was like a verbal caress.
He rested his forehead against hers and sighed. “I’ve seen some horrible things since we launched Enterprise,” he began, “but nothing like that. An entire planet, dead.” He closed his eyes and just breathed.
She doubted he realized it, but his practice of the Vulcan breathing techniques was nearly perfect. As she watched, they had the desired effect and he began to visibly calm. “I am sorry you had to witness that. Can I help?”
“You already have.” His answer was sincere and he pulled her body closer until they were indirect contact. Holding her close, he breathed in her scent, one of exotic spices and an earthy goodness that left him longing for more. At last though, he knew it had to end. “I should probably get dressed. Captain gave us a half hour to clean up, but I really need to report back in so we can get busy finding whoever did this.”
The briefest of nods escaped her. “Agreed. We have been scanning the planet and atmosphere systematically. So far, we have no new information, but something may be forthcoming.” Pulling back slightly, she released her hold on him. “I will see you on the bridge.”
As she left his quarters, Trip realized he felt renewed like he would not have thought possible just a few moments ago. Shaking his head, he dropped his towel and grabbed up a clean uniform.
Archer had barely cleared the lift doors when T’Pol looked up. “Sir, I may have found something.” She manipulated the control panel once more and looked again at the display before her.
The Captain had come to stand over her shoulder, anxiously awaiting some news. “Well?” he questioned impatiently.
“It seems that we have found traces of a warp signature. It’s faded and partially hidden by atmospheric dispersal, but it is definitely there.” She continued refining her scans as she narrowed in on the signal.
“Can you tell what kind of ship made it?”
She looked up and met his eyes. “It’s Romulan, sir.”
His anger exploded within him like some massive weapon. “Can we follow it?” he ground out through clenched teeth.
“No. The traces have faded too much for that. However, it seems to have headed back toward Romulan space.”
Fighting to regain control, he nodded in understanding. “Ensign Sato, place a warning buoy around the planet. Then, get me Admiral Gardner.” Breathing deeply, he turned toward the helm. “Ensign Grik, maintain orbit for now, but set a course back to Earth, be ready to engage it at my command.”
“Aye, sir,” the Tellarite answered shakily. He’d never seen an angry human before and he wasn’t so sure that he liked it. For all of his father’s bluster about the weakness of this race, he thought that right now, this particular human, would rip anyone to shreds that dared to get in his way, including a Tellarite.
His computer console bleeped as he made yet another pass around his ready room. He covered the distance to it in two large steps. Depressing the button harder than he needed to, he said, “Yes, Hoshi?”
“I’ve got Admiral Gardner for you, sir.”
“Put him through,” Archer said as he forced himself to sit.
The weathered face of the admiral appeared quickly on the screen. “Well, Jon? What’s the situation at Ramy Four?”
“Romulans, sir. The planet is devastated, no survivors. We can’t track their warp signature, but T’Pol assures me they were headed back toward their home space.” His answer was concise, but complete.
“Dammit, Jon.” The admiral drew a hand across his face in a weary gesture.
Sitting back slightly in his chair, Archer continued. “We’ve placed a warning buoy in orbit. The planet is an ocean of radiation, not to mention the bodies. God, it was awful.” For just a moment, he seemed to see with an inner eye, but quickly he shook his head as if to clear it of an unpleasant image.
“All right, head back here. Negotiations are going well. We don’t want any of the delegates to find out about this and panic.” He paused while he considered what to do.
Archer looked ready to dispute that order, even though he’d already told Grik to set a course, he wasn’t ready to head back yet.
“Just come home for now. Enterprise can serve as host ship for traveling delegates for a while. Let Columbia handle the dirty work, you guys are too high profile.”
“Aye, sir,” the Captain conceded as Gardner closed out the channel.
Trip and T’Pol sat as mirror images of each other, cross-legged in front of a dancing flame with closed eyes, but each in their own quarters. As they breathed in and out, first deeply then more shallowly, each of them drifted into a trance-like state.
At once, Trip found himself surrounded by the white space of T’Pol’s mind. He approached her as she rose from her seated position. Smiling softly, he reached out to her. She entered the circle of his arms without hesitation.
“God, do I need to hold you,” he mumbled into her hair.
“And I you,” she whispered in response.
End Episode Two
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
Just finished readin this at FanFic.Net,,;) cause it was up there first. Any whos So this is how it begins,, The Rommie War that is. That must of been a big arse Bomb the Rommies used, if it wiped out a planets population. Real cant wait to see were this Season 5 is headed,, I just love the Rommies as the bad guys.. And Its just about the perfect pace you have TnT goin at tryin to deal with Lizzie's death and movin forward on their relationship. Well as perfect as a pase can be after losing a daughter. But were Ya had T'pol say she wanted to work through this together,, that was perfect,,IMHO. :) Cant wait for the next episode.
Me too, can't wait for another one!
Happy to see this posted!! Sounds like this could be a really great storyline.......don't keep us waiting too long for the next chapter.
Great series so far. I like the way you're showing the gradual building of trust between TnT, and how they're working through their grief. It's a lot more in character than having them rush into things the way so many fics have them doing. Thanks!
YES! Finally some Romulan action, I would have loved to see more Romulan action on the show, if only they had had a season 5 we could have had the start of the Romulan Earth war, and maybe seen some more Romulan Vulcan interaction. I like where this is going so far, don't disappoint!!!!
More episodes! Mooooooore! Seriously, great stuff, we just need more of it, that's all! :)
Moooore please, love it.
Thanks for writing this next episode - I hope that you keep it up! I can't wait for your next post :)
I'm really enjoying your virtual season. It is very believable (that is , I can imagine the show going like this). I like your Grik character too. Keep up the good work!
Uh oh, a whole planet? When I first read that I thought of the Xindi weapon. Maybe they ran one off the production line for the Romulans before Captain Archer scuppered their plans for Earth? Ali D :~)
This is how Season 4 should have ended and Season 5 begun, after the cliffhanger ending. Excellent story. I'm waiting for more. The Tellarite ensign with his different viewpoint and different background, which easily leads to the other characters explaining more was a very good device. It's also nice to see Trip and T'pol coming together naturally and believably; a lot of fanfics seem to want to force the speed of development.
Season 5? Great! Your storyline is pre-romulen-wars. Am I correct? As for your offer to let people write an episode I'd love to but I can't use e-mail.
awsum keep goin when next part coming out?
oh and Romulans RIGHT ON! But not Columbia! but I'm pretty sure what you'll write will be wicked just like the two episodes you have already written
Spent the last few days catching up with all your previous writing. Really good. Kinda desperate for the next installment now ...!!