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Beta Waves - Pt 6
Rating: PG – 13
T’Pol’s announcement sent Trip scurrying into the pilot’s seat. His companioned manned the weapons station.
While T’Pol analyzed the data on her screen, Trip pushed the engines beyond the red line.
“Give me somethin’, T’Pol,” he pleaded as he searched for a place to hide. “I need one of those anomalies the Expanse is famous for.”
“The nearest moon is 7 light years behind us,” was her unwelcome reply.
“Enterprise is 10 light years ahead,” he countered, “I wish all command decisions were as easy. Enterprise it is.”
Archer turned toward Ensign Sato.
“I’m picking up a Starfleet distress signal.”
There were two possible explanations, neither of which the bridge crew was willing to contemplate. Action was preferable.
“Transfer the coordinates to the helm. Travis, warp 5, please.”
The last time Trip Tucker had attempted the manoeuvre was in a flight simulator. His instructor had given him the assignment, Trip had learned years later, to take the cocky Southern down a peg or two. Before Tucker, every first year cadet in Starfleet history who had attempted it had crashed and burned. To this day, the instructor, when reminiscing, told stories BT and AT, before Tucker and after Tucker.
Archer had reminded him of the Academy legend when he gave him the order.
“Right now I don’t feel so cocky,” he muttered under his breath.
T’Pol spoke from the back of the pod. “I am ready.”
“You know, honey, if the situation weren’t life and death I would have loved watching you dress.”
“Perhaps tonight you can watch me undress.”
With a grin that belied the reality of their circumstances, Trip told Enterprise to begin the transport. T’Pol, dressed in an EV suit, disappeared in a shimmer of light. The confirmation of her safe arrival on board Enterprise was his cue to begin.
T’Pol was so preoccupied by the removal of her EV helmet that she did not notice where she had materialized.
“What am I doing in my quarters?”
The question went unheard. She automatically moved to the communication console to push the intercom. Only as she began to hail the bridge did she notice the additional gear installed alongside the standard Starfleet issue. Startled she did not complete the hail.
“Welcome home, T’Pol.” The Captain’s voice emerged from the comm. unit.
“Thank you, Captain.” She preferred a more direct response, but did not yet have enough information to ask an intelligent question.
“I am standing in the corridor outside your quarters, alone. Don’t try to open the door.”
She disobeyed. An alarm bell started sounding. Had she been able to watch Archer, she would have seen him place his hands over his ears. Abruptly the alarm stopped.
“Am I a prisoner?”
Archer unable to see the distress on her face, ploughed on, “We have lined the internal hull with Trellium.”
The Vulcan gasped, her hand reaching for her neck in panic. The memories of her bout with Trellium poisoning were still vivid.
“To protect you, Malcolm installed a biofiltration system. You are perfectly safe, as long as you do not leave your quarters.”
The Captain paused, giving her time to adjust to his announcement.
“And as long as no crewmember enters,” she realized.
“The Trellium lining can be removed within a few hours, but the effects linger somewhat.”
The disembodied voice of the captain emerging from the comm. unit caused her to shiver with fear. “How long is somewhat?”
“Dr. Phlox estimates seventy-two hours,” Archer was pleased to inform her.
“How long do you anticipate keeping the lining in place?” became the crucial question.
Archer sighed. Phlox had been correct in his analysis of her reaction. The short-term good news was of little interest. T’Pol needed the Big Picture.
“I don’t know.”
“Did you have Mr. Reed replicate the bridge’s Science station in my quarters?”
“I will need an hour to familiarize myself with the installation.”
Archer took no offence at the dismissal in her voice. She had to adjust to more than the new installation and it would take much longer than one hour.
“There will be a briefing session in one hour. You will need to familiarize yourself with the remote link to the situation room, also.”
Trip pushed the image of a scantily clad T’Pol undressing for him to the back of his mind. He needed to concentrate on the snatch and grab if he planned to live to tell about it.
Travis kept a running account of the speed at which Enterprise travelled. Warp 2, Warp 1.9, Warp 2.3…. The docking crew announced that the hatch doors were open. Malcolm took a pot shot at the pursuing scout ship. The torpedo passed over the shuttle and burst into flame in its wake. Trip Tucker had to trust that the training and experience of Enterprise’s crew would ensure their part in the procedure would be executed perfectly. Placing his trust in their hands reduced the variables he had to consider to a list he could count on the fingers of each hand.
He recited the list to himself, “Trajectory, velocity, yaw, and that’s just the pod. I also need to track Enterprise’s T.V.Y.”
“Enterprise, this is Shuttlepod One, ETA in ten, nine, eight…”
While he counted down the seconds for the listening crew, inside his head Trip conducted a private monologue, “Easy does it. Heads up. Aim for the centre of the cargo bay. Cut the engines, just glide in. Keep the nose up. There straight ahead.”
The docking doors clanged shut behind him as the interior hull rushed to meet the bow of the pod. MACO marksmen had been seconded to shoot grappling hooks at the vehicle. He heard them thud against the hull, then a jerk, as they tightened, arresting the forward momentum. Like a balloon float in the Macy’s parade, the crew of Enterprise manhandled the shuttle onto the deck.
The fear that an anomaly would at any second send both ships careening into oblivion had nibbled at the edge of his consciousness. That the fear had been groundless came to him like a light turning on his head. Enterprise hadn’t flown with such consistency and stability since they entered the Expanse. What had changed in his absence?
“Phlox has found an antidote for T’Pol?”
Archer and Tucker walked side by side along the corridor from the docking bay to the situation room as they had countless times before. Neither man gave thought to the easy camaraderie they shared. The crew of the ship passing them deep in conversation took comfort in the familiarity and confidence exuded by their senior officers. Unbeknownst to them, Phlox, analyzing the mental health of the crew, had recorded in his medical journal that the mutual respect and esteem in which they held each other inspired hope in a crew that daily faced annihilation.
The Chief Engineer’s question was a logical conclusion on hearing that the ship’s hull had been lined with Trellium.
“No, he hasn’t.”
Trip stopped, grabbing Archer by the arm, turning the captain about to face him. Archer coolly faced the white hot rage emanating from his friend.
“Phlox assures me she is safe as long as she remains in her quarters.” Archer gently tugged at the hand clutching his arm. “Malcolm retro fitted her cabin with biohazard filters and decontamination devices.”
“You put her in solitary confinement for the duration of the mission!” Ignoring Starfleet protocol, steering dangerously close to insubordination, Trip continued his accusation. “The Human race banned solitary confinement as a cruel and inhuman punishment fifty years ago, yet you lock T’Pol away. What next, blowing the sick and the weak out an airlock?”
End of Part Six
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A handful of people have made comments
OOooh, angry Trip! I must confess to suspecting that the Captain has a personal agenda for ensuring T'pol's isolation. Perhaps to keep her and Trip apart. Green eyed monsters come in all forms and like the mythical dragon are hard to slay. I'm holding out for Trip... Ali D :~)
Awww, and I was hoping to hear about that undressing T'Pol talked about! I know Trip was looking forward to that! Could Ali D be right? Is Archer trying to seperate the couple? Guess I'll have to find out in Chapter Seven... so when's that coming???
Archer seems up to something. Either that, or he finally lost it. I'm finding him quite an annoyance.
Trip pissed! Very nice. "What's next, blowing the sick and weak out an airlock?" Loved it.
Can't wait for the next chapter!
Terrible Archer! I just loved Trip´s "What's next, blowing the sick and weak out an airlock?"
How will he get to T`Pol?! Oh, oh! Can´t wait for the next chapter...
Wow this is awsome. can't wait for the next chapter.