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The "T" Key- Pt 2
ďIíll be in my ready room. TíPol, the bridge is yours.Ē
The repairs were nearly completed. Trip and his team had worked double shifts for four days. At Phloxís insistence he had changed the standing battle orders. His Chief Engineer and First Officer were now permitted to consort. He should have left well enough alone. To his knowledge TíPol and Tucker had not spoken since their return from the service.
He missed Tucker at dinner in the Captainís mess. TíPolís companionable silence was strained. Neither of them had confided in him. TíPolís symptoms had been relieved. Trip, on the other hand, had returned angry, driven, and subject to violent headaches.
If they insisted on silence, he would seek answers in the words of others.
Chuck Yeager got the X-1 ride because he had a background in maintenance as well as the reflexes of a test pilot. I wonder how Major Yeagerís commanding officers handled him? Ensign Tuckerís training as an engineer has been used as an excuse to forgive his antics more than once. He pushes the envelope, putting stress on himself, the machines and the training team.
I cannot report that he is reckless. Whenever he has tried a maneuver that isnít strictly textbook, he has produced wind tunnel test data and reams of theoretical calculations, proving the probability of disaster was worth the risk Ė for science.
He is an independent thinker, yet when the situation calls for it, he is a team player. He is a natural leader. His command style is inclusive, often appearing to be lax. However, when placed in role playing decisions where a decision is called for, he invariably makes the hard choice.
When he is assigned wing command duties, his fellow students are eager to be on his formation flying team. Unbeknownst to the flight training team, Tucker had been handing out what he calls ďgame plansĒ the night before formation drills. The plans are detailed, accurate, and written in a highly entertaining style. They covered theory, application and execution.
ďUnder battle conditions we donít have time to assign homework to our pilots.Ē I pointed out the day we discovered his unique contribution to the training.
His answer: ďBut we do now, Sir. So letís spend the time, because it is going to save lives later, Sir.Ē
Independent thinker, planner, and teacher then, and now. We would never have been able to rescue Travis from that automated hell of a repair station, if Trip hadnít succumbed to his inherent need to know. That independent streak got him into trouble and saved Travisí life.
August 2143, Archer clicked on the link. An access denied warning appeared, with a field in which he was asked to insert a clearance code. Damnation Trip, what am I doing with a Chief Engineer whose personnel file is so sensitive that I was given special override codes to read it? He entered the sequence and waited.
Special Operations Branch, Starfleet
Lieutenant Tucker was assigned to the Special Operations Branch 18 months ago. He was recruited for his skills in encryption, decryption, flying and improvisation. He has proved an invaluable resource on every mission. On six occasions the mission officer has cited him for bravery and innovation that saved lives. He has an exemplary record. It is with great regret that I request he be reassigned.
Archer opened the file attachment. There were two: an audio and a visual file. The audio file was Tripís personal account of the incident that led to his reassignment. The visual file was Hansenís account of the debriefing. Archer pushed play.
Iím Lt. Charles Tucker, the third, a.k.a. Trip. Iím recordiní this report in my hospital recovery bed in Joíberg, South Africa. Commodore Hansen agreed to an oral report, because in addition to ma legs, ma hands are broken. She stationed a detail outside ma private room so that I will not be disturbed while recordiní this.
Lt. Seneca and I infiltrated the cell as ordered. We acted as a local liaison for the cell members, acquiriní weapons and parts for bombs. Seneca, a demolition expert, turned the parts into bombs. I played the part of her protector and lover.
We had been carryiní out the mission for four weeks, when Seneca and I were accused of beiní traitors to the cause. Someone had betrayed us. I do not know who the bastard is.
Archer listened to the silence, which was interrupted from time to time by a sniff and the sound of a throat being cleared. When Trip next spoke, his voice was rich with emotion.
For days I listened as they tortured Lt. Seneca. We were kept in separate rooms. I was bound and naked. Eventually, but too late for Lt. Seneca, I was able to break free, under cover of fire created by a Special Ops rescue team. She was dead when I found her. As I was unable to travel any distance, I remained by her body, until the extraction team found us.
Archer closed the audioplayer and opened the debriefing.
Lt. Tuckerís report is an accurate account of the situation, but it is missing certain details. When the extraction team found him and Lt. Hayley Senecaís body, both Lt. Tuckerís legs were broken and his hands smashed. The second hand was broken on the jaw of a guard he hit trying to escape. We found that guard dead in the hall outside Tuckerís place of confinement. As we did four others along the route the Lieutenant followed to Lt. Senecaís place of confinement. When he entered the room where Lt. Senecaís body lay, he was confronted by one of her torturers, wielding a baseball bat. The enemy broke Lt. Tuckerís left leg. Tucker relieved the attacker of his bat. In the ensuing struggle his other leg was broken. When the extraction team arrived, they found the torturer dead, Lt. Tucker covering the body of Lt. Seneca. He was silent, although tears were streaming from his eyes.
A natural chemistry that the two exhibited had led to their choice for the mission. In order to maintain their cover, Lieutenants Tucker and Seneca had become lovers. By the time they were betrayed the two were deeply in love. A journal written in Lt. Senecaís handwriting was found by the clean up team. In it she confided her feelings for Tucker and that he returned them. Lt. Tucker has refused to discuss this aspect of his mission with anyone, including the trauma psychiatrist assigned to assist him with recovery.
There are no living witnesses, other than Lt. Tucker, to the events that unfolded from the time the was able to gain his release until the extraction occurred. There were, however, in addition to Lt. Seneca, six dead bodies. All had evidence of severe trauma to their heads and torsos. Blood was found on floors, walls and ceilings. DNA testing concluded that the blood found was a mixture of Lt. Tuckerís and that of the dead guards.
Hayley Seneca? Trip said that the name of his first love was Hayley. He said that it didnít work out. Whenever I asked him, if he ever thought of trying to contact her and try again, his reply was always the same, ďNot in this lifetime.Ē
Trip, you revealed just enough of the truth to misdirect me. Youíre doing it again, arenít you? Your desire to avenge Lizzieís death isnít just for her, is it? All that guilt you felt when Hayley died, youíve transferred it to Lizzie. So what has TíPolís need to share her bed with you have to do with all this?
End of Part Two
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A handful of people have made comments
This is excellent. The only detail I don't agree with is Trip being highly competitive - I don't think he is :^). However, your reading of his character overall is wonderful. Keep writing. I'm very interested.
This is utterly brilliant! I love it. The unique way the story unfolds as a kind of exotic backdrop is not only a revealing way to introduce the story but also to expand on character background in a very unique and effective way. I love it. Am drawn in and intrigued. I can't wait to see where you take this story. Much kudos to you for a fabulous piece of writing. Ali D :~)
Whoa! Lovin' it!! Hail to the writer!
Whoa! I'm always interested in a new and different way of telling a story. This caught my attention immediately and held it completely. I'm not sure I like the dark undercurrents you've given our beautiful Trip's character, but I understand what you're trying to do. A very creative and well-written story.
EXCELLENT! Please continue soon! Love the way this is unfolding.