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Khellian: The Hour is at Hand
Author - Distracted | Genre - Action/Adventure | Genre - Romance | Genre - Virtual Season 6 | K | Rating - PG-13
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Virtual Season Six
Virtual Season Six:
“T’Pol, you have the con.”
Malcolm’s sincere desire to be anywhere but on the bridge at that moment wasn’t due to a dereliction of duty. He was just being cautious. Two Vulcan females with their attention focused on him at once was a recipe for trouble. He’d become comfortable dealing with T’Pol, but this second Vulcan—Captain Tavin’s mate T’Leth—was an unknown quantity. Her comments at breakfast had made him nervous. If he’d read her correctly she was already aware of his relationship with Hoshi. How she’d discovered it was anyone’s guess, but he suspected that she was more than she seemed to be. He eyed the prim and proper middle-aged Vulcan woman beside him as she inspected the sensor controls at the tactical station with evident curiosity. The bun on the back of her head, shot with silvery strands amidst the black, reminded him of his maiden aunt Gloria, for many years the headmistress of a girl’s school in London.
“I have only recently familiarized myself with the sensors on the Vakhlas, and I’ve never seen the sensor controls on a human ship before,” admitted T’Leth with disarming directness. “Will you show me how these work?”
Malcolm gave her a puzzled but polite smile. Tavin had claimed at breakfast that his mate had experience with sensor adjustments, and yet here she was claiming ignorance?
“These are the long range controls,” he pointed out. “And these convert the display to short range sensors.” Her eyes darted from one control to another like a bird’s, but she didn’t touch them.
“And how does one change the sensitivity of the sensor array?” she asked. He placed his hand on the control she’d requested and adjusted it.
“These were already set at the most sensitive setting for electromagnetic radiation,” he explained. “We’ve been unable to detect a heat source among the asteroids, though.” His voice reflected his frustration. Abruptly, she stepped in front of him and began making adjustments, talking calmly all the while.
“Electromagnetic radiation is not the key. The key is to set all parameters at the highest sensitivity and then to instruct the computer to search for a discrete area in which there is the complete absence of all detectable forms of radiation.” Her hands moved smoothly over the controls. She kept her eyes on the console as she worked. “These sensors may not have sufficient sensitivity to make the distinction between ordinary vacuum and the utter void produced by a cloaking device, but Tavin is communicating with the Vakhlas as we speak. If we cannot find Lieutenant Sato, I’m certain the sensors on the Vakhlas will be up to the task, given sufficient time. Do not be concerned over the fate of your...friend.”
Malcolm winced at the woman’s choice of words. He glanced warily around the bridge, and found Commander T’Pol, Lieutenant Mayweather, and Ensign MacNamara studiously ignoring them.
“There, all done... Now we wait,” announced T’Leth. She gave Malcolm a satisfied nod and just the trace of a smile. His mouth was still open when she entered the ready room and shut the door behind her.
“She’s nice. Kinda reminds me of my mother. Always stepping in to do the job right,” said Travis with a smirk.
Malcolm shut his mouth and shot Travis an exasperated look. Then he shifted his attention to the console and started trying to figure out what the woman had done to his sensors.
Enterprise, Captain’s Ready Room, 0810
“The human identified as Rostov remains unconscious but otherwise seems to be in good health. He is under guard in Sickbay. The other two humans claim that he was the instigator of the unauthorized use of the shuttlecraft, but they also claim to have no idea why or how the man was rendered unconscious. I find that claim suspect.” T’Leth winced inwardly at Simet’s open accusation of duplicity, but a quick glance at Archer revealed that his expression hadn’t changed. Maybe the man understood nothing after all.
“The one called Seven is asking to speak to his captain,” continued Simet dispassionately. Of all the crewmembers aboard the Vakhlas, Simet was the one T’Leth found most difficult to understand. When she’d joined the crew four months previously, she’d been so puzzled by the presence of an obvious follower of Surak on board the Vakhlas that she’d quizzed her husband about it. His response had surprised her. She’d been briefed on Tavin’s older brother when she’d initially been assigned to observe Tavin. It was a tragic story, but she hadn’t been privy to all of it. The brother had found himself inadvertently bonded to a socially inappropriate partner and at his first Ponfarr had chosen, with his parents’ encouragement, to attempt meditation rather than consummation. He didn’t survive. Tavin, at that time a young and impressionable adolescent, had joined the V’tosh Ka’tur shortly afterwards in protest. Simet, Tavin’s tutor and an old family retainer, had followed the young man into exile, and despite his obvious affinity for the teachings of Surak, he’d never left him.
“It’s all right, Simet. Give the human access to a comm screen. His captain is right here with me,” replied Tavin affably. It never failed. No matter how cold and distant his first officer became, Tavin always treated him like family.
Simet inclined his head and stepped aside. A rather ordinary-looking human male took his place. She glanced at Archer, and her eyes narrowed. The human captain looked surprised. Her eyes returned to the screen.
“Crewman First Class Seven reporting, sir. Ensign Isis is inspecting the ship for damage. The Vulcans have Petty Officer Rostov in custody,” said the man with an odd emphasis on military ranks. Archer blinked at the crewman for a second, and then his eyes cut nervously toward Tavin before returning to the screen. Tavin seemed oblivious.
He’s hiding something, thought T’Leth.
“What’s your condition and the condition of... Ensign Isis?” asked Archer hesitantly. His tone was not that of a commanding officer to a subordinate.
The “crewman” smiled reassuringly. “We’re fine, Captain. The Vulcans have been very hospitable, all things considered. In fact, we’ve learned quite a lot already. We’d like to remain aboard for a little while. A crewman here has suggested some modifications to the shuttle that might help us locate and retrieve Lieutenant Sato.”
T’Leth’s lips quirked upward, and she exchanged a knowing glance with Tavin. Toron hadn’t wasted much time finding a new toy to play with.
“So you say, Commander... but I have yet to see proof of your assertion,” replied T’Mir calmly.
Trip grinned in response to her challenge. She’s so much like her mama, he thought with anticipation. This is gonna be fun. He turned toward a console and brought up the sensor logs of Enterprise’s first encounter with the Romulan shuttle. Then he stepped back with a wave of his hand toward the screen.
“Check this out, then. Watch the sensor gap.” He bit his lip to keep from laughing at her expression of surprise when the alien shuttle appeared out of nothingness.
“But you were unable to detect the ship beforehand,” she countered.
His smile faded as his chagrin came to the fore. “True...,” he admitted reluctantly, “But then Hoshi found a way to trace the ship...”
He brought up the sensor logs of the odd transmissions Lieutenant Sato had used to locate the Romulan shuttle in the Kreptagh system. T’Mir studied them, nodding sagely.
“The telepresence unit’s transmissions,” she confirmed.
He eyed her in disbelief. “You knew?” he protested. “Why didn’t ya say somethin’? We knew they came from the ship, but we didn’t know what they were until Agent Seven said somethin’ about it after the shuttle took Hoshi!”
T’Mir cocked her head in puzzlement. “I was told that you had all of the information you required. I wasn’t aware that you didn’t know the source of the transmissions.”
His eyes returned to the realtime sensor displays and he paused for a moment. Someone was messing with the sensors from the bridge. Whoever was doing it had focused the sensors at highest sensitivity to the usual frequencies but had neglected to add Hoshi’s modifications. He shrugged. Has to be an oversight. That’s our best chance of finding the damned thing. So he turned to the sensor array controls and added the overlooked frequencies to the search parameters. Immediately, a blip appeared on the screen, heading toward Xyrillia Tertius at high impulse.
Both human and half-Vulcan stared at the console in complete surprise for a second before the implications of what they were seeing sunk in.
“You’ve found the ship!” said T’Mir in amazement. Her lips curved upward in a smile as she gazed upon him. Trip grinned back at her. Earning her respect and admiration was better than winning the argument—and he’d done that, too. He strutted to the comm panel. His triumphant voice rang out.
“Tucker to the Bridge. We found her, Mal!”
I should go see Phlox. He told me to watch for headaches, she mused. But then he’d just tell her to rest, and maybe even put her to bed. As bad as it was being cooped up on the ship, being at bed rest would be even worse. I want a walk in the park. I want grass and trees, she thought grumpily as she began a slow but steady stride that felt to her more like a waddle. This is just so damned boring.
She’d even lost her exercise partner. Janice Hess had been back on duty for several months now--ever since Doctor Phlox had determined that her son had adapted well to the re-implantation. They’d met regularly in Sickbay for their checkups since, for moral support and Phlox’s convenience. At first, the engineer had also made the time to meet Elena for exercise when she was off duty, but Hess was in much better shape than Elena was, and was soon doing her own thing on the other side of the gym at her own more vigorous pace. They still met for lunch occasionally, but Janice didn’t understand Elena’s impatience to be home. She wanted to see her family, of course, but she didn’t hate being cooped up as much as Elena was beginning to hate it, and Elena could tell that her own constant complaining was getting on her friend’s nerves. She tried not to gripe all the time, but sometimes she just couldn’t help it. Being on board a spacegoing vessel for seven months wasn’t at all what she’d signed up for when she’d agreed to go to Betazed. The voyage would have taken four months round trip if not for the side trips and crises along the way, and four months, she now knew, would have been plenty enough for her. She felt stifled by the ship’s featureless hallways, and the lack of fresh air and sunshine was taking a major toll on her.
Dammit, Jon... I’m a lawyer, not an astronaut!
She’d felt like saying those words to him so many times, but she just couldn’t do it. It would wound him to know how much she detested being on board his beloved ship. He was so proud of the damned thing. Sometimes she was actually jealous of the way he talked about it, as if the ship were another woman. Janice was just as bad about the engines—like they were babies to be nursed and coddled. There were times when Elena doubted her own sanity, half expecting Enterprise to begin talking to her through the console in the cabin she shared with Jon—demanding that she leave Jon alone to be with the only “female” who deserved him--Enterprise herself.
She gritted her teeth and kept walking despite her steadily building headache. Thinking of Jon and his ship had just reminded her of breakfast an hour ago. He’d dropped her like a hot potato when the tactical alert sounded—and rightly so.
I refuse to let it upset me. I’m a rational woman. The man’s a starship captain! He needs to respond that way to a tactical alert, she chided herself. It didn’t help much. She still felt neglected. It made no sense.
I hate being pregnant. It makes me irrational and stupid, she thought in disgust.
Elena reached the end of her fifteen minute workout, stepped off the treadmill, breathing heavily, and then grabbed her towel from the side bar of the treadmill, wiping the sweat from her neck. “It’s your own fault,” she muttered wryly. “You wanted to be pregnant, remember?”
She slung the towel over her neck and headed toward the exit, rubbing her temples. Her vision blurred slightly for a moment, and she decided it must be fatigue. As she reached the door she felt the odd double flip-flop sensation of two babies turning somersaults. Her workouts always woke them up. Today the sensation was accompanied by the squeezing of a Braxton-Hicks contraction. Her abdomen suddenly became as hard as a basketball. She paused, leaning against the wall until her belly softened again. Contractions always made her nervous. Dr. Phlox had reassured her that they were perfectly normal, and that her uterus was just preparing for labor. This one seemed a little more intense than usual—but it was probably just her imagination.
Phlox had also told her that even though she wasn’t due for another eight weeks her uterus was already the size of a full term pregnancy because of the twins. Twins often came early for that reason. Based on what she’d read, the human uterus could only stretch so far before it went into labor. That was another good reason to get off this damned ship. She wanted to have her babies at home in Houston.
She pushed away from the wall and left the gym. Less than two minutes later, as she entered the cabin she shared with Jon, she had another contraction. This time the increased intensity was definitely not her imagination. The pain dropped her to her knees. She had just enough time to activate the Medalert pendant that Phlox had issued her before the seizures started.
“Tucker to the Bridge. We found her, Mal!”
There was a brief pause behind her, and then Lieutenant Commander Reed’s puzzled but hopeful voice responded.
“Bridge to Engineering. The computer hasn’t identified a sensor gap. Can you transfer your data to the bridge?”
T’Pol found it strange that their normally skeptical and concrete security officer not only seemed to know immediately which “her” Trip was speaking of, but was willing to accept the commander’s statement at face value. It was evident that she’d underestimated the level of trust between the two men.
“That’s ‘cause it’s not a gap, Mal. Switch your sensors back to Hoshi’s modification and you’ll see it.”
T’Pol watched the sensor readout on the arm of the command chair as Reed made the adjustment, and suddenly a “blip” appeared. It was heading toward Xyrillia Tertius at maximum impulse.
Lieutenant Sato has entered the telepresence unit, thought T’Pol in surprise. It seemed a reckless action, considering what the unit had done to its previous occupant. Perhaps she is unaware of the danger in which she has placed herself...or perhaps she considers revealing her location to be worth the risk. Deliberately placing herself in mortal danger seemed unlike the Hoshi Sato that most of the crew of Enterprise thought they knew, but T’Pol had seen her inner strength. The human linguist possessed a fierce determination which had thus far enabled her to overcome her many fears.
“Should we pursue, Commander?” urged Malcolm Reed. She turned her head and met his eyes. The apprehension in them told her that he’d come to the same conclusion and now feared for Hoshi’s life. She nodded once, a poor attempt at reassurance, and then turned back toward the viewscreen. Keeping the shuttle just barely within range of the Enterprise’s long range sensors was the most logical choice to avoid prematurely revealing their presence.
“Pursue, Lieutenant Mayweather...maximum impulse.”
“Now we simply wait for the proper moment to release it,” he told Seven proudly. Seven eyed the young man with a tolerant expression.
“You know what to do once Khellian is aboard?” he asked softly. “We can’t let the Vulcans of this time period have access to her technology...not yet.” Toron nodded and showed him the imitation data padd he’d been given at the start of his mission. Seven took it from him, admiring its design. Toron smirked.
“I’m told I’ll invent that thing in a decade or so,” he said, nodding at the device. He sighed regretfully. “They won’t let me look at its programming, so I don’t know how it works... yet... but in addition to the long range scanner there’s a temporal stabilizer in there with enough power to bring the entire shuttle back with us as soon as we get the pilot back where she belongs.” Seven handed the device back to him.
“Based on what I’ve seen of the condition of the previous pilot, is returning the pilot to her ship even worth the trouble? The TEA should assume care for her if she’s irreversibly brain damaged. She is assisting us with a mission, after all,” Seven remarked.
Toron shook his head. “I wasn’t directly involved in the development of the telepresence unit, but from what I can recall we can’t assume that the pilot’s been damaged. The early trials with unwilling and conscious subjects produced such unsatisfactory results that the researchers began sedating the pilots so they wouldn’t fight the link, and most of them remained intact.”
“So why didn’t they just sedate the first pilot?” asked Seven with a bewildered expression. Toron shrugged.
“Perhaps his handlers erred... or maybe he was just too powerful. If I remember the initial trials correctly, the more powerful the telepath was, the more likely he was to end up lobotomized... but the subjects that didn’t resist did the best. If she entered the link voluntarily she might still be mentally undamaged,” he replied.
<<Khellian is on the move!>> sent Isis to both of them with enough force to make them wince. She exited the shuttle at a brisk walk, headed for the airlock. Toron and Seven exchanged a raised brow, and then followed her rapidly out of the cargo bay. Once the bay was empty save for the shuttle and Tavin’s peanuts, still undelivered, Toron began the depressurization sequence. The outer doors opened, and Toron activated the newly armed and modified shuttlepod’s autopilot program from his console. The shuttle’s engines powered up without a hitch and it left the cargo bay in pursuit of its quarry.
Norfleet found it ironic that the only segment of Starfleet Intelligence with possession of all the facts spent most of its time preventing the public and the rest of Starfleet from acquiring those facts. He wasn’t even certain if Lieutenant Commander Reed had been fully informed. His instructions had been absolutely clear, however—remove all traces of Vulcan involvement in this instance of Terra Prime associated espionage and keep Rostov quiet using any means necessary. After looking at the filth the man had collected, both personally and professionally, Phil Norfleet found himself wishing that he’d be forced to do something permanent. In fact, he was really looking forward to it.
“Good placement,” he affirmed. Cutler attached the bag to the endotrachial tube and began rhythmically squeezing as Phlox set the ventilator settings and oxygen flow on the biobed. Fifteen seconds later, Elena Archer was on full ventilator support.
Phlox stepped back from the bed and exhaled heavily, pulling off his gloves. He glanced at the bioscan readings. No intracranial bleeding yet, he noted in relief. Her blood pressure was responding, but it remained dangerously high. The seizures had finally stopped after enough anticonvulsants to drop three Denobulans her size in their tracks. He’d never treated a case of eclampsia in a human before, but it was certainly easy to recognize one. She was stable for the moment, but there was only one effective treatment for eclampsia—immediate delivery.
Phlox’s attention turned to his other two patients. The female infant seemed stressed but healthy. Maternal seizure activity had temporarily reduced the infant’s oxygen supply, but the rapid treatment of Elena Archer’s condition had returned her daughter’s blood oxygen levels to the normal range. Phlox was satisfied with her condition. A little stress hadn’t harmed her, and might actually have accelerated the maturation of her lungs. This was a good thing, as he would likely be delivering her very shortly.
Phlox was less satisfied with the condition of Elena Archer’s baby boy. His heart rate was rapid and weak, and scans showed evidence of reduced oxygen saturation in the infant’s bloodstream. He studied the images of the infant’s placenta and discovered the reason. Elena Archer’s dramatically elevated blood pressure had caused a partial placental abruption. A blood clot had formed between the child’s placenta and his mother’s uterine lining. It was small, encompassing only ten percent of the total placental surface, but it was slowly growing. Soon it would divide the baby from his only source of oxygen, his mother’s bloodstream, and he would die.
“Prep for surgery,” he told Cutler grimly. As she did so, he stared blindly at the monitors. What am I going to tell Jon? he wondered hopelessly. From what he could recall from his reading, the maternal death rate from eclampsia remained significant in humans, and immediate delivery didn’t completely eliminate the danger. At 32 weeks, the twins would likely do well if he could get them out before the male developed hypoxic brain damage, but they were still two months premature. It was a scary situation all around, and the last thing that Jonathan Archer needed to deal with in the middle of the current crisis, but it couldn’t be helped. This was why he’d decided to go into the practice of multispecies medicine rather than obstetrics. Babies rarely came when it was convenient.
“It’s a risk, but thus far the ship hasn’t been overtly hostile,” replied Tavin reassuringly. “It’s possible that your crew member has some influence over its actions.”
Archer looked taken aback by the idea. “You mean Hoshi might be voluntarily cooperating with the thing...or that she’s in charge?” His expression became hopeful. “Maybe we should just try hailing her,” he suggested. His naiveté nearly brought a smile to Tavin’s lips. He exchanged a look with T’Leth, and she came to his rescue.
“I don’t believe that it’s safe to assume that the ship will recognize either Vulcans or humans as allies,” she said. “My mate is simply pointing out that if she is acting as the pilot, your communications officer is part of the vessel and her thought processes may influence how the vessel behaves.”
Archer looked back at T’Leth with a puzzled expression on his face. “Pilot?” he asked. “What makes you say that?” It was T’Leth’s turn to give the captain a disbelieving look.
Tavin glanced at her reprovingly before beginning a patient explanation. “You’ve said yourself that the ship’s previous pilot is dead, and that all evidence points to the fact that the ship requires a humanoid pilot to function properly. What other purpose would there be for the abduction of a member of your crew than to obtain a replacement?”
Archer blinked. Tavin could see the frank dismay on his face the moment he realized that Tavin and his wife were likely to be correct in their assessment. Before the human had a chance to recover, the speaker on the wall sounded loudly in the small room.
“Bridge to Ready Room. We’ve located the Romulan ship, Captain, and are pursuing it into the Xyrillian system,” came Commander T’Pol’s voice over the comm.
Archer, to his credit, immediately put aside his horror over the probable fate of his communications officer and stepped to the wall to answer the comm. His voice was brisk, without a hint of his previous distress.
“Contact Xyrillia Tertius Port Authority and ask permission to enter the system,” he reminded his first officer. “We don’t want a diplomatic incident...and please review the logs of my recent communication with the Vakhlas. I think you’ll find them useful in dealing with this situation.”
“Yes, sir,” she responded as he stepped to the console, evidently in order to send her the logs detailing the plans of the team on the Vakhlas.
After doing so, Archer turned toward Tavin. He seemed completely in control. “We should get you both back to your ship,” he told them. Tavin nodded in respect. He envied the human. Such a rapid transition from frank emotional expression to cool efficiency would have been nearly impossible for a Vulcan, but Archer had accomplished it without apparent effort.
“Sickbay to Captain Archer,” said the comm again. The voice was male. Tavin didn’t recognize it. Archer returned to the comm.
“Archer here,” he responded brusquely.
“I need you in Sickbay immediately, Jon,” replied the somber male voice quietly.
Archer looked puzzled. Tavin was equally so. This crew member was tremendously familiar in his manner.
“Can it wait, Phlox? I’m in the middle of a crisis right now,” answered Archer in equally quiet tones. He didn’t seem disturbed by the man’s familiarity. The two were evidently friends as well as crewmates. There was a heavy sigh over the comm. Tavin turned away to give Archer some privacy. It sounded as if the man called Phlox had bad news.
“It’s Elena, Jon. She’s critical and I need permission to operate,” said Phlox in a near whisper. There was dead silence in the room for several seconds, and then Archer responded in a hoarse voice.
“I’m on my way.”
Tavin turned, intending to offer his sympathies, and discovered Jonathan Archer dry-eyed and grim. He found himself unable to formulate an adequate response. Archer extended a hand wordlessly. Tavin took it. He gripped it tightly as T’Leth looked on in quiet sympathy.
“Thank you for your help, Tavin. You’ll forgive me if I don’t escort you to your shuttle. I’ll send a crewman to do it,” said Archer with an almost painful upturn of the lips. It looked like his best attempt at a polite smile, and so Tavin smiled back politely in return.
“And I’ll send your crewmembers back to you when their task is complete,” he replied.
“Let me know when you’re ready to transport Rostov. I’ll send a security escort for him,” said Archer, releasing Tavin’s hand and starting to make his way almost blindly toward the exit. It was obvious that he had only one thing on his mind.
“Peace and long life,” called T’Leth softly to his retreating back, “...both to you and your family.” Archer paused and turned, eyeing her calmly sympathetic expression and her V-salute in surprise. Then he nodded. He made no attempt to return the salute, but managed the ritual reply.
“Live long and prosper,” he told her with a wry quirk of his lips, and then left the room.
Vakhlas Sickbay, 0900
Shit, my head hurts! was his first coherent thought. Then he abruptly realized that he had no memory of how he’d ended up in the horizontal position on an uncomfortable bed, presumably in Sickbay, with the worst headache of his life. The rhythmic and annoying beeping noise coming from above his head could only be a medical monitor of some sort. He cautiously opened one eye again, and then the other as he squinted at his surroundings in dismay. He was in Sickbay, all right—just not on Enterprise. To his right stood the largest and most muscular Vulcan he’d ever seen—until he looked to his left. The Vulcan on the left was slightly larger. Both of them were looking at him like they ate humans for breakfast. They were unarmed, but if he believed the propaganda that normal Vulcans were up to six times stronger than a human, these guys could probably snap him in half over one knee like a stick.
I am in serious fricking trouble.
Remaining absolutely still, he tried his best to remember how he’d managed to wake up surrounded by something out of his worst nightmares. He’d been in T’Pol’s quarters planting a camera... and then his cover got blown and he’d done an emergency beam-out. He had a vague recollection of being in Shuttlepod One. After that things got pretty fuzzy. Something about a tractor beam and a janitor maybe? He heard two female voices behind the curtain dividing him from the rest of the chamber discussing something in a language he assumed was Vulcan, and then a middle-aged looking Vulcan woman pushed the curtain aside and stepped to his bedside. She was half a meter shorter than his beefy guards, but her manner made it clear that she was the one in charge. She gazed at him in austere disapproval.
“Are you Petty Officer Michael Nikolai Rostov?” she asked in perfect unaccented English. Rostov tried to stare her down, eyeing her with resentment.
“Who wants to know?” he asked belligerently. The woman raised a neatly trimmed black brow.
“You may address me as T’Leth. I serve as communications officer on this vessel, and my captain wishes me to obtain information from you concerning the events that transpired on board the shuttlecraft prior to your arrival on board this vessel. You may begin your narrative.”
Rostov stared at her in surprise. She wanted his version of things? He studied her face. She gazed at him evenly, waiting for him to begin. She’s serious. She’s ready to believe what I tell her! he realized. Rostov thought for a moment, suppressing a sly grin, and then forced his features into an expression of wounded innocence.
“I don’t know how I got here,” he claimed pitifully. “I was just working on the shuttle, and then I woke up in here with an awful headache. Do you know who did this to me?” He gazed wide-eyed up at the Vulcan. Unfortunately, she didn’t seem impressed.
“In view of your memory lapse, I am forced to obtain information in a more efficient fashion,” she said flatly. Before he could object, her nod to the pointy-eared Bobsey Twins at his bedside resulted in dual vice-like grips on his upper arms. She reached for his temples with both hands and caught his head between the first three fingers of each hand, effectively immobilizing it. His headache abruptly grew a hundred times worse as she murmured a phrase in Vulcan. There was nothing he could do to prevent it when she began rummaging around inside his mind.
Enterprise Sickbay, 0900
“You said you’d never used this thing, Phlox. Are you sure it’s safe?” asked the captain worriedly. His eyes never left Elena’s face. She remained motionless. Sedated to the point of unconsciousness to stop her seizures and intubated for control of her airway and treatment of her cerebral edema, she must have presented a frightening picture to a man unaccustomed to such things.
“It’s true that I haven’t operated this particular device,” admitted Phlox, “...but it’s set up to be operated by someone with little or no medical training. The bioscanner distinguishes the DNA of the mother from that of the child, and then the transporter transfers only the child’s tissues. A marginally trained Ferengi medic has used it on both your wife and Lieutenant Commander Hess twice previously without ill effects...and the risk of complications from standard surgery is considerable,” he explained. He smiled reassuringly. “I believe this to be the best option...but I’ll cut and staple instead if you’d rather I do it that way.”
Archer’s eyes grew wide at his friend’s rather indelicate turn of phrase, and he shook his head, looking a little nauseous. He looked back at his wife’s pale face and laid a hand on her prominent belly. “I trust you, Phlox...just don’t let them die...” he whispered pleadingly.
Seeing his friend in such a state threatened to bring tears to Phlox’s eyes, but he blinked and got down to business. This was no time for sentimentality. There was work to be done.
“All right, then...stand back,” announced Phlox briskly, gesturing to Archer to step away from the bed. Then he pulled the bioscanner from its niche in the side of the transporter and ran it slowly over Elena Archer’s abdomen, adjusting the device to select the male fetus first. The abruption was still stable, but the baby’s heart rate was fluctuating widely with every contraction of his mother’s uterus. It was time to get him out of there.
Phlox glanced at Liz, manning the second incubator. She’d take the girl, and he would have the boy. Despite some previous experience back on Earth with the care of well newborns, she looked frightened out of her wits. He’d trained her in neonatal resuscitation himself, though. She’d be fine, he was sure. He gave her a reassuring smile. “Ready?” he asked. She nodded, offering him a shaky smile in return. Phlox winked at her, and then inserted the bioscanner into its niche. He waited a moment for the transporter to acquire the pattern and then pushed the controls slowly forward. As he watched, Elena Archer’s belly became a bit less prominent and a bloody mass materialized inside the incubator. It was moving. Archer’s eyes widened in horror and his face grew ashen white, but there wasn’t anyone available to catch him as he fell. Phlox sighed. Now he had four patients instead of three. It had been a mistake, he supposed, not to warn the captain that the amniotic sac and the placenta would be coming along for the ride.
“Go check the captain,” he told Cutler briskly, and smiled slightly at the look of relief on her face. He stepped up to the first incubator, inserting his hands into the gloves in its side. Picking up the laser scalpel, he incised the bloodstained and wriggling oval mass. Amniotic fluid arched from the incision. In a moment, the miniature fountain had subsided and he began separating the tiny boy from the membranous sac that had been his home for seven months. Phlox estimated the child’s weight at perhaps two kilos. The baby was limp, purple, and not breathing.
Grabbing the suction tip, Phlox suctioned out the infant’s mouth and nose. To his dismay, the baby didn’t even grimace. The incubator’s sensors were picking up a heartbeat, though, so Phlox got to work. Everything he needed was inside the incubator. He grasped the tiny ventilation mask and, placing it over the infant’s mouth and nose, began delicately squeezing the bag with his fingertips, forcing oxygen rhythmically into the child’s tiny lungs. His face was determined.
“Breathe, little one,” he coaxed softly. “You can do it.” The baby’s color began to slowly improve, and his arms and legs began to flail. Phlox removed the mask when the infant began to wail. His cry was thin and weak—but he was crying and very much alive. Phlox’s grin threatened to split his face as he cut the cord with his scalpel, cauterizing it, and then lifted the infant, whose face was rapidly turning from a sickly grey-purple color to bright red in the oxygen rich environment of the incubator. Young Jon Junior screamed his annoyance over being so rudely brought out of his warm and watery bed. Phlox wrapped him in a fresh blanket and, after whipping the sodden blankets and membranous remnants from beneath him, laid him carefully on the mattress of the incubator. The newest Archer promptly stuck a thumb in his mouth.
“One down, one to go,” murmured Phlox cheerfully. He returned to Elena Archer’s bedside. Her vital signs were stable with no signs of hemorrhage, but he couldn’t risk bringing her out of her medically induced coma until she was delivered. Her baby girl was doing well, but for Elena’s benefit she’d have to be separated from her mother. Only then would Elena Archer’s condition have a chance to resolve. He grabbed the bioscanner and began scanning his patient’s abdomen again.
“How’s the captain?” he called over his shoulder at Liz as he prepared to deliver the second twin.
“He’s awake. Vital signs are stable. Should I let him up?” replied Liz. Phlox turned in puzzlement toward his assistant and confidante to find Liz Cutler kneeling on the ground with both hands on her captain’s shoulders, trying with all her might to keep him still until she received clearance to let him stand up again. Phlox suppressed an amused grin. Jonathan Archer seemed to barely notice Cutler’s attempts, and was in the process of standing up with Liz virtually hanging from his shoulders as Phlox inserted the bioscanner into its niche and set the transporter parameters. Archer’s color was good, and his eyes were fixed on the tiny infant in the incubator.
“You may release him. He’s up anyway,” Phlox told her. To Archer he said exuberantly, “Congratulations, Jon! Come over and meet your son!” He grinned widely at his friend’s stunned expression, and then activated the transporter again. A second, equally colorful mass materialized in the second incubator. It was wriggling vigorously, and as soon as he incised the sac and cleared the membranes from the baby girl’s mouth, the child began screaming lustily. He chuckled as he cut the cord, cleaned up the mess, and wrapped her.
“This one’s a live one, Jon,” he quipped. “I hope you’ll be able to keep up with her.” The baby girl, to be named Maria he understood, with a second name still to be negotiated, was red faced, vigorous, and slightly larger than the boy. Archer approached the incubators with a reverent expression on his face.
“They’re so small!” he exclaimed softly. He smiled at the miniature being enclosed in her protective environment and, at Phlox’s invitation, stuck his hand into the incubator glove, stroking the baby’s minute palm with his forefinger. She gripped his finger tightly with a hand so tiny the fingers didn’t even completely encircle his digit.
Phlox smiled reassuringly. “Both of them are doing quite well for being delivered at 32 weeks. We’ll have to fatten them up a little before it’s safe to have them out of the incubators for very long, but if we’re lucky, by the time their mother is up and around they should be able to nurse,” he said with forced optimism as he returned to Elena’s bedside and pressed a hypospray containing oxytocin into the side of her neck. There was no point in worrying his friend with worst case scenarios. Archer’s eyes turned to his wife, still unconscious on her biobed with an endotrachial tube in place. He smiled sadly.
“She missed the whole thing,” he told Phlox wistfully. He turned trustfully back to his friend again. “So...when will she wake up?”
Phlox blinked. Nothing I told him registered, he thought in dismay. He cleared his throat, unable for a moment to look Jon in the eye.
“I’m not sure,” he managed finally. He looked up at his captain and friend. Archer seemed in shock still. Perhaps that was the problem. Phlox decided to explain again.
“Remember when you first came into Sickbay and I told you about eclampsia?” he prompted gently. “Remember that I said that the outcome isn’t always a good one?”
Archer nodded, still with a puzzled expression on his face. “Yes...you said that delivery was her only option for survival...but she’s delivered now, so she’ll get better, right?” His expression was pleading. Phlox sighed, and then tried to smile reassuringly. Even he could tell that his smile wasn’t very convincing.
“Her chances for complete recovery are much better now, that’s true...but she’s still at risk for intracranial bleeding... kidney or liver damage... a whole multitude of problems which can be associated with this condition. And her brain is swollen as a result of her elevated blood pressure. I’ll have to wean her off of her anticonvulsants and monitor her very carefully. It may be several days before we know whether she’s sustained permanent brain damage.”
Archer’s distressed expression made it clear that he finally understood the gravity of the situation. He walked back to Elena’s bedside and took her limp hand in both of his. Wordlessly, Liz Cutler slid a chair under him. He sat down without looking at the medic, his eyes alternately gazing at his wife’s face and then at the two incubators as if he couldn’t believe what was happening. Liz walked to the incubators to begin her initial nursing assessment of the infants while Phlox walked to his console to make a log entry concerning the deliveries. When his delivery notes were complete, he made a final entry.
Patient: Captain Jonathan Archer; August 5, 2156; 1000 hours.
Patient is placed on medical leave until further notice. His wife’s critical condition and the births of his children have temporarily left him in a state which is not conducive to the stresses of command. Commander T’Pol notified at 1005 hours.
Then he got on the comm to the bridge.
“This is the Profit’s Tool. I have a commercial proposition for the first person fortunate enough to respond to this message. I have a surplus of the finest deuterium, and will offer it in trade for foodstuffs. I would prefer something exotic, such as Klingon delicacies, but I might be persuaded to accept lesser rations. Respond quickly. I won’t be in such a generous mood for long.”
“Profit’s Tool, this is Orbital Station Six Traffic Control,” responded a bored-sounding Xyrillian. “Take your place in line if you wish to be assigned a berth. You may conduct business in this system only after being inspected by customs officials. Your orbital coordinates are being transmitted now.”
Khellian pondered this turn of events for a microsecond. Actually docking with the orbital station was the last thing she wanted to do. Her deception would never fool the naked eye.
“Ahh...a berth isn’t necessary, Traffic Control. I’ll take my business elsewhere.”
She veered away from the planetary traffic lanes, hastily calculating her options. As she did so, her sensors picked up a familiar signal—the Earth ship Enterprise, headed in-system at maximal impulse. Relief and alarm warred within her as she realized that the part of her which had been human—which still was human—had succeeded in suppressing the knowledge of the human ship’s unexpected sensor capabilities until there was no possibility of escape without notice. She searched her organic memory, looking for information which might enable her to deceive the Earth ship and leave the system safely, and found a small kernel of memory buried deep within the complexities of the verb conjugations of dozens of different languages as if hidden there deliberately. If she’d been capable of smiling she would have. Malcolm was the key. She left orbit and headed directly for the Enterprise.
<<Just thank him and tell him what a good job he’s doin’,>> advised her best source of information on emotion-related social interaction.
“Thank you, Doctor. You are a most competent physician,” she continued. “Please inform me of any change in the captain’s condition.”
“I will, Commander...thank you,” replied Phlox. He seemed amused for some reason. So was Trip. T’Pol’s gaze returned to the viewscreen as she pondered their odd reaction to her statement. Trip finally enlightened her after a moment.
<<The term ”competent” isn’t usually used as a compliment, T’Pol,>> he sent by way of explanation.
<<It’s a compliment when I use it,>> she replied, mildly affronted.
<<I’m sure it is, darlin’... I’m sure it is,>> sent Trip with the mental equivalent of a knowing smile.
She raised a brow and ignored him. She sensed his mental chuckle, and then lost contact as he went back to his duties in engineering.
“Commander, the Romulan ship has changed heading and is traveling directly toward us at maximum impulse,” announced Lieutenant Commander Reed. After a pause, he continued in a puzzled tone. “It’s broadcasting a Ferengi ID signature, but our sensors can still detect the telepresence transmissions. Is it possible that they don’t know we can tell the difference?”
“The Romulans have had nearly 24 hours to obtain information from Lieutenant Sato, Mr. Reed. I’m afraid that we must assume they know everything that she does,” replied T’Pol flatly.
“I’m picking up a transmission from the vessel, Commander,” stated McNamara at comm. T’Pol turned to him with an inquiring expression. He met her eyes in surprise, holding his earpiece to one ear. “It’s in English! It sounds like Lieutenant Sato!”
T’Pol gazed at him expectantly, but he just kept listening with a rapt expression. She sighed. How she missed Hoshi!
“Would you like to share it with the rest of us, Ensign?” she asked dryly.
The baby-faced freckled young man grimaced apologetically. “Sorry, ma’am. On speaker.” There was silence for a moment, and then someone began to speak.
“Malcolm? Are you there? I need help. They’re after me,” said a familiar voice over the comm. T’Pol’s brow wrinkled minutely. It was Hoshi’s voice, but there was something wrong with the intonation. She didn’t sound frightened enough for the current situation. T’Pol paused, considering her options. The seconds dragged in silence.
“Commander?!” Malcolm asked in apparent disbelief, “Aren’t you going to answer her?”
“This may be a ruse, Mr. Reed. We must be cautious,” replied T’Pol calmly as she pulled up the record of the ship’s recorded transmission on the arm of the command chair. There appeared to be no unusual signals piggybacked within it. She switched back to external sensors and noted the approach of Shuttlepod One from the Vakhlas. It was pursuing the Romulan shuttle but was still outside of sensor range for the smaller ship. The Vulcan ship hung back, avoiding a direct confrontation. This was a quite logical approach, as such a confrontation would no doubt result in the destruction of the Romulan shuttle, an undesired outcome from both a strategic and personal point of view. Diversionary tactics were in order to allow the team on the Vakhlas to accomplish their mission.
“Hail the shuttle, Mr. McNamara... Mr. Reed, you may answer the transmission,” said T’Pol. She sat back in the command chair and waited. She could almost feel the armory officer’s surprise at her statement, but, to his credit, he recovered swiftly.
“Enterprise to Ferengi vessel, please identify yourself...” said Malcolm.
T’Pol exhaled and relaxed fractionally. At least the Lieutenant Commander wasn’t so blinded by emotion that he’d reveal their awareness of the ship’s identity. It was a promising beginning.
“It’s me, Malcolm. The Romulans are after me. Everybody’s after me. I need help.” The words were correct. Even the pitch and inflection were precisely accurate, but whoever this person was, she wasn’t Hoshi. T’Pol turned to exchange a warning glance with Malcolm. He looked puzzled, apparently by the sedate calmness of the voice in the transmission, and shook his head as T’Pol opened her mouth to speak, raising a hand to reassure her.
“We’re here, Hoshi. Everything’s fine. Are you all right?” he asked. Then he pointed to T’Pol’s armrest comm console and began keying in a message. T’Pol looked down to the arm of her command chair and found a text message on her screen.
Shuttlepod One has transporter capacity. They’re within range. Have them pull her off the ship now.
T’Pol blinked. He still didn’t see the problem.
You are not speaking with Hoshi. It’s the ship. The team on the Vakhlas has a plan. Keep talking so they can implement it, she typed.
“I’m all right. I just need to get out of this system. Don’t worry. I’m in control of this ship. Just convince the captain to let me go and I’ll meet you at any coordinates you like as soon as I’m safe.”
Agree, keyed T’Pol succinctly, giving Malcolm a no-nonsense glare.
“Sure, Hoshi. No problem. We all want you to be safe. Where would you like to meet?” replied Malcolm. His voice was breezy and unconcerned, but his face was intense. His attention was focused on his sensor console. T’Pol’s attention turned to hers, and then she motioned to McNamara to put the sensor readings on screen. Shuttlepod One was in firing range of the Romulan shuttle’s weapons now, but either the person truly in charge of the shuttle had chosen not to fire or their distraction was working.
“If you want me to be safe, Malcolm, why is an armed shuttlepod trying to sneak up on me?” asked Hoshi’s voice calmly.
“It’s not sneaking, Hoshi. We’re trying to rescue you. Just drop your shields and the shuttlepod can beam you aboard. You’ll be safe then,” replied Malcolm. He was typing furiously as he spoke.
Who’s on the shuttlepod, who the hell armed it without my permission, and why wasn’t I informed of this? he demanded in print.
The answer to his question soon became apparent as Shuttlepod One opened fire on the cloaked Romulan vessel with the dual portable phase cannons mounted on its hull, an action that T’Pol doubted most seriously the Lieutenant Commander would ever have authorized. The Romulan ship’s Ferengi camouflage flickered and went out, and it appeared suddenly on the screen. Shuttlepod One continued to fire but made no impact on the Romulan shuttle’s shields, and T’Pol realized that their shuttle, lacking shields, was essentially defenseless despite its weapons. She watched helplessly from out of phase cannon or transporter range, waiting for the destruction she knew was coming.
“How far are we from transporter range of the Romulan shuttle, Mr. Reed?” she asked with forced calmness.
“Roughly one thousand kilometers and closing rapidly, Commander,” replied Malcolm.
“Try to get a lock on Lieutenant Sato when the Romulan’s shields go down to fire,” said T’Pol. “Perhaps we’ll be close enough by...”
Her voice faded away as Shuttlepod One exploded, its deuterium fuel tanks feeding the blinding flash of an uncontrolled fission reaction for a millionth of a second before it vanished, vaporized by the explosion resulting from a single shot from the Romulan’s disruptor cannon. T’Pol turned to Malcolm. He was staring at his sensor readings with a grim expression.
“The Romulan shuttle’s shields are down now, but there aren’t any life signs on board. The ship’s power seems depleted or deactivated somehow,” he said hoarsely. “Either she’s not there anymore, or...” He swallowed.
T’Pol nodded in response and turned back to the viewscreen. They would know the truth soon enough.
“Hail the Vakhlas, Mr. MacNamara,” she said.
Khellian watched with a fraction of her conscious mind as the Earth shuttle approached. She’d allowed her human half to come to the fore in order to convince the other humans to allow her to escape, and so the shuttle registered as “friend” initially, until her sensors picked up its unexpected armaments. It was no threat to her, however, and so she ignored it during her negotiations with the security officer—until it fired on her without warning and her self-protection programming kicked in. She had no time for fear before she felt the results of the reprogramming transmission sent from the Earth shuttle in the millisecond between the dropping of her shields and the firing of her disruptor cannon. The transmission ripped through her conscious mind, tearing it apart. She lost self awareness and once again became a thing instead of a living being. After a delay of several seconds, the ship’s computer reprogramming was complete, and it powered down, awaiting further instructions.
“The Romulan vessel is incapacitated and immobile, Commander. A grapple and tow will take time and may damage the ship. May I suggest that we bring it aboard with our tractor beam?” suggested Tavin helpfully. “Once our engineering team discovers a way to bypass the onboard computer and reactivate the engines safely, I will have someone pilot it into your shuttlebay,” the Vulcan captain continued calmly.
Malcolm didn’t trust him. The man even had a trace of a smile on his face. If Tavin had actually been present instead of just on the viewscreen Malcolm would have knocked that little smile off with his fist. The feeling of satisfaction the mental picture engendered distracted him so much for a moment that he almost missed the Vulcan’s next statement.
“You’ll also be pleased to learn that your crew member was successfully transported to the Vakhlas via your shuttlepod’s matter transporter prior to its destruction. She is being brought to our Sickbay for evaluation as we speak. With your permission, I’ll advise our medic to communicate directly with your Doctor Phlox to arrange for her transfer once she is stable,” said Tavin.
Malcolm’s heart skipped a beat. His anger was abruptly replaced by a less familiar sentiment. Desperate hope was not part of his usual emotional repertoire. His eyes left the viewscreen to stare at the commander when he heard her swift intake of breath. The expression on her face was odd. It had begun as a wince, as if the news were somehow painful to her, and now was an expression quite difficult to define. The nearest thing he could think of was that she looked as if she were just on the verge of smiling.
“That is agreeable news, Captain. I’ll inform Doctor Phlox,” she replied with a gracious nod. “Does your engineering team require assistance? I’m certain that you’re ready for this situation to be resolved so that you may be about your usual business.”
“I’m grateful for the offer, Commander, but I believe that this situation is best described by a colorful Earth expression which I have recently encountered...something about ‘too many cooks in the kitchen’,” responded Tavin. His lips quirked. “My entire crew complement with the exception of our medic and bridge crew is apparently in the cargo bay attempting to assist your Ensign Isis.”
Malcolm blinked at the screen in puzzlement. Ensign Isis?
Commander Tucker’s triumphant yell came without warning, startling T’Mir as she studied the sensor readouts of the short lived confrontation between the two shuttles. She’d been trying to identify shuttle fragments for salvage with no success when Trip’s high volume exclamation reverberated off the bulkheads. She eyed him in amusement as he scrambled up the ladder to the catwalk to make his announcement.
“Lieutenant Sato’s alive! The Vulcans rescued her!” he told everyone in the department with a wide grin on his face. There was applause and a noticeable improvement in morale at his statement. T’Mir gave him an approving nod as he looked down at her excitedly from the catwalk. The engineering department had been measurably more subdued since the apprehension of Petty Officer Rostov, and watching the destruction of Shuttlepod One on their sensors a few moments before hadn’t improved the mood. Commander Tucker’s excitement and relief was contagious, however. His news was having a beneficial effect already.
I hope T’Pol was able to block his reaction, she thought, raising a brow. Command is challenging enough without having to battle a telepathically induced headache at the same time.
T’Mir eyed the chief engineer as he climbed down the ladder again. His smile vanished as he turned away from his audience. Trip’s joy over Hoshi’s rescue was obviously tempered by the first bit of news he’d gleaned from his link with T’Pol that morning. He’d passed the information about Elena Archer’s life threatening condition on to T’Mir and a select few among his staff. Lieutenant Commander Hess had taken the news the hardest.
“Agent T’Mir?” asked a voice still roughened by emotion. T’Mir turned to find a red-eyed and very pregnant Lieutenant Commander Hess. She gave the woman an inquiring and sympathetic look.
“You’ve got a call on the comm console in the engineering office,” clarified the human engineer. T’Mir blinked in surprise, and then nodded her thanks, gesturing for Hess to precede her.
“Thank you, Lieutenant Commander. I’ll take the call if you’ll show me where it is.”
Hess led her to a small, tidy office containing a desk and a cot. The comm console on the desk was active. To her surprise, her caller was an exotic appearing dark-haired human female that T’Mir had never seen before.
“Agent T’Mir? I’m Ensign Isis,” said the woman with a smile. “I’m calling from the Vakhlas, and I have a message from Crewman Seven.” The “ensign” glanced meaningfully over T’Mir’s right shoulder at Hess, who still hovered in the background with evident curiosity.
T’Mir paused, taken aback by her fellow agent’s transformation. Although she’d never seen Isis in her human form, she had no reason to disbelieve the woman’s story. She raised a brow ironically and smiled just a bit. “Of course... Ensign,” she told her. She turned to Hess. “Would you mind excusing us, Lieutenant Commander?” Hess smiled ruefully, exhaling heavily, and backed out of the room with obvious reluctance, closing the door behind her. T’Mir faced the screen again to find that Isis was now all business—and very much in charge.
“I’m transmitting the confirmation code to officially end this mission for myself and Agent Seven, T’Mir. The transmission also grants you full agent status, as you will be completing the mission alone and must be a full agent to do so. Agent Seven and I will return with the shuttle. You will follow after ascertaining that all is as it should be in the approved timeline. I am transmitting your parameters for mission success. Do you have any questions?”
T’Mir stared back at her in shock. Full agent status...completing the mission alone... replayed in her head. They were finally promoting her from trainee to active agent! A smile broader than any she’d ever sported before threatened to break loose as she inspected the list of parameters provided. They were straightforward, and would be simple enough to ensure.
“No, ma’am,” she replied firmly. “Consider it done.”
She gazed through the view window across the chamber toward the ship that occupied its center. It bristled with more armaments than a ship its size had any right to have. Its sleek lines were familiar, and yet subtly alien as well. It seemed inconceivable that as recently as a mere 2000 years prior to that moment the creators of such an efficient looking killing machine had called themselves Vulcan.
Both humans appeared to be assisting Toron within the sealed cargo bay. As she watched, both of them dematerialized, presumably transported to the passenger chamber within the shuttle which had no other means of entry or exit. In Sickbay, Terek and Seron had been positively eager to leave the third human in her hands in order to return to the cargo bay and get their hands on an actual Romulan shuttle. They’d apparently been frustrated by Toron’s security precautions, however. The airlock was sealed from the inside and they were on the outside. Around them stood an assortment of crew members, including the Vakhlas’ chief engineer and two of his support staff, as well as the weapons specialist. None of them seemed pleased by the situation. Terek stood with his arms folded while Seron remonstrated with Toron via vidlink from inside the chamber.
“We are aware of the risk of reactivating the computer core. All the more reason for there to be a security presence and engineering assistance within the chamber when you do so,” rumbled the huge Vulcan. Toron smiled apologetically.
“There won’t be any risk to us, Seron. We’ll be inside the shuttle. The risk is to the rest of you. We’ve deactivated the disruptors, and I can get the shuttle out of the cargo bay using chemical thrusters, but once I’m clear of the Vakhlas, we’ll have to power up the impulse engines. That will require bringing the computer core back online, and if the AI hasn’t been successfully reprogrammed I cannot guarantee that it will follow my commands.”
“You must at least let us in before you attempt this so that we can collect information concerning this device in the event that it must be destroyed,” countered Seron reasonably. T’Leth, who had been on the verge of stepping forward to give such an order herself, nodded in agreement. The burly security guard was more intelligent than he looked. Toron shook his head, smiling sympathetically.
“I’m sorry, but I have orders to the contrary,” he said regretfully. T’Leth gazed at him in surprise. His manner had changed. It was as if he was no longer making any attempt at all to hide his emotions. She stepped forward to the console, pushing Seron aside.
“Toron...to my knowledge, neither the captain nor any of the ranking officers on this ship have given you any such order. As a bridge officer, I outrank you, and I’m giving you a direct order now,” she told him sternly, “Release the seals on the cargo bay immediately and turn over the Romulan shuttle for examination.”
Toron’s smile grew wistful, but he made no move to obey her order. He sighed and said, “I’ll miss all of you... especially you and the captain. Thank you. You’ve been good to me.” His eyes met her puzzled expression for a moment and his smile broadened before he, too, dematerialized while still standing at the console. T’Leth realized then that the cargo bay had been set to depressurize automatically. She attempted to override the settings without success. One of the engineering techs stepped up to assist her, but the neither of them had ever seen anything like the security protocols that Toron had set up to protect his program. They were still trying to override them when the cargo bay doors opened and the Romulan shuttle left the Vakhlas powered by chemical thrusters. T’Leth got on the comm.
“Captain, Toron has commandeered the Romulan shuttle and has left the ship. I’m not certain of it, but I don’t think he’s planning to keep our bargain with the humans. I suggest a tractor beam until we can determine his intent.”
“Agreed,” came Tavin’s terse reply.
Through the still open doors of the cargo bay, T’Leth could see the shuttle as it made its way slowly away from the ship, the flashes of its chemical thrusters blinking briefly as it made adjustments in its course. The vivid blue rays of the tractor beam suddenly lit up the small ship, creating a halo effect. The shuttle made no attempt to evade the beam, but simply vanished without a trace into the vacuum of space. There was no explosion, no engine power signature or transporter trace. One moment it was there, and the next it was just—gone.
“Healer V’Dan?” he inquired. The woman’s rather plain face lit up as she smiled. To Phlox’s surprise, she extended a hand, human fashion.
“Doctor Phlox. I’m pleased to finally meet you,” she told him. He returned her smile enthusiastically and grasped her fingers gingerly. Her grip was warm and firm.
“Likewise,” he returned politely. She nodded as she released him, and then handed him a padd without further discussion.
“You’ll find my examination results and tentative diagnoses here, Doctor.”
Phlox inspected the screen. Hoshi Sato’s neurological scan was the first document he pulled up. He stepped to her stretcher. Lieutenant Sato was physically stable but appeared to be in a comatose state. He reached out to lift each of her eyelids in turn. There was no response.
“I’m afraid the human female appears to be suffering from a form of meld shock,” offered the Vulcan healer. “There’s nothing I can do for her here. She’ll need to be treated by someone capable of healing melds. That skill hasn’t been formally taught in Vulcan medical schools for over 200 years. There are a few priests on Vulcan who claim to have preserved the technique, however.” Phlox nodded in a non-committal manner, making a mental note to discuss the issue with Agent T’Mir. Having a Vulcan healer on board who had been trained in an alternate reality was proving to be a very useful thing lately.
He lifted the padd and pulled up Nick Rostov’s scan. The results surprised him. He turned to the other stretcher. Rostov was in five point restraints. His eyes rolled wildly in his head as he stared from one Vulcan to the other in obvious terror, fighting the straps holding his arms and legs in place. He was hyperventilating and his heart rate was a third faster than normal for a human at rest. Phlox glanced disapprovingly at V’Dan and her minions. The man was obviously frightened half to death. Admittedly, he was a criminal suspect in custody, but this was considerably more than just fear of captivity.
“Mister Rostov?” Phlox asked gently. Rostov’s frantic gaze fixed itself on Phlox’s face. There was something feral about it. He didn’t speak.
“I’m afraid that awakening in our Sickbay surrounded by Vulcans, a species which appears to have been a focus of delusional fear and paranoia in this individual for quite some time, has produced an acute psychotic reaction in Petty Officer Rostov. As I am unfamiliar with antipsychotic therapies in humans, it was necessary to physically restrain him for the transfer...for his own protection,” explained V’Dan blandly. She didn’t appear to regret her decision in the least.
“I will do so, Captain. Please do not consider yourself responsible in any way. You had no way of knowing your crewman’s intent,” she attempted by way of reassurance.
Tavin inclined his head soberly. “I assure you that this incident will be investigated most thoroughly.”
“We are grateful for your assistance with the recovery of Lieutenant Sato and the apprehension of Petty Officer Rostov. We would not have been successful without your help,” replied T’Pol. “I’m certain that the captain would agree.”
“Please convey my sympathies to Captain Archer,” said Tavin. “It’s my hope that this incident hasn’t damaged the trust that he placed in us when he asked for our assistance,” he added formally. He paused as if unsure of the appropriateness of his next question, and then continued. “May I also inquire about the health of your captain’s wife and children?”
“The captain’s wife and children were alive when I last spoke with Doctor Phlox. He is as yet unsure of Mrs. Archer’s prognosis, but the infants...one son and one daughter...are both stable and doing well,” replied T’Pol.
“I am gratified by the news,” responded Tavin. “My medic should be arriving in your Sickbay with her escort and your crewmembers as we speak. If the doctor requires her assistance, I am pleased to offer it.”
“I will inform Doctor Phlox of your offer. Is there anything we can supply in recompense for your assistance? We have surplus food items and deuterium that we could spare,” offered T’Pol, still feeling just a tiny bit guilty about not being able to give Tavin complete information. Tavin’s brow went up at her offer, but he accepted it nonetheless.
“My crew will be grateful for the dietary variety, Commander. I’ll have my supply officer contact your quartermaster to negotiate an equitable trade,” he replied. Then he lifted his hand in the V salute. “Peace... and long life, Commander,” he said sincerely.
T’Pol inclined her head slightly—a gesture of respect. She returned the salute. “Live long and prosper, Captain.” The screen converted to a view of the Xyrillian homeworld.
“May we speak privately, Commander?” asked Malcolm Reed from where he stood at tactical, in a voice which implied that he was literally at the end of his patience. T’Pol turned and met his eyes. The lieutenant commander seemed to be rapidly approaching a state not conducive to the effective performance of his duties. A private conference seemed prudent. She nodded her acquiescence.
“Mr. Mayweather, you have the con,” she said, gesturing to Reed that he precede her into the ready room. As soon as the door closed he rounded on her angrily.
“You’re offering to pay them, Commander? They destroyed our shuttlepod and lost a Romulan artifact of tremendous strategic value!” he protested.
“I can understand your reservations, Mr. Reed, but you’re not in possession of all of the facts,” T’Pol countered calmly. “Captain Tavin assisted us in good faith. As a matter of fact, had he not volunteered to help us, I’m convinced that we would have been forced to confront the Romulan shuttle and destroy it...with Lieutenant Sato still aboard. Would that outcome have been preferable to you? We would still have Shuttlepod One in our possession, after all...unless we’d been forced to destroy it as well in order to stop Petty Officer Rostov.”
Malcolm shook his head. “Of course not! But as Chief of Security on Enterprise I should have been informed of any plan involving the use of one of our shuttles as an attack vessel...manned or not!”
T’Pol raised a brow. He did have a point.
“The decision to leave you out of the plan was the captain’s, Mr. Reed. I wasn’t consulted either,” she told him flatly. “Agents Isis and Seven apparently found themselves in a favorable situation and convinced the captain to allow them to take advantage of it in order to rescue Lieutenant Sato. The captain felt that the potential benefits outweighed the risks and made a unilateral decision to allow them to follow through with a plan that was, in retrospect, probably a well-thought out and deliberate Temporal Enforcement Agency mission rather than the fortuitous circumstance that it appeared to be. Had I been consulted, I would certainly have warned the captain of the possibility. As it is, perhaps he knew what the agents were planning and decided to allow them to rescue his communications officer despite this, or perhaps he had no idea. I have no way of knowing. The fact remains that although we do not have the Romulan shuttle, we do have a living linguist, which is more than we had before.”
Malcolm blinked at her for a moment, and then he exhaled heavily, staring pensively at the deck. The anger seemed to flow out of him, leaving only exhaustion behind.
“I have a task for you, Lieutenant Commander,” T’Pol continued quietly, gazing sympathetically upon his haggard face. His eyes met hers with a question in them.
“Call your relief to man your station on the bridge. I need you to go to Sickbay and check the status of all of the patients in Doctor Phlox’s care. Then report to me at 1200 hours in the Captain’s Dining Room. We’ll discuss it over lunch.”
His eyes narrowed, and his lips turned up in a wry smile. If he suspected that Phlox already had orders to make a full written report and that her orders to him were simply an excuse to get him to Hoshi’s bedside and then to a meal, he gave no other sign of it.
“Yes, ma’am,” he replied.
Enterprise Sickbay, 1145 hours
“Once she’s taken that first ounce, pull the nipple out of her mouth and turn her over to burp her,” Cutler advised briskly. T’Mir approached the pair curiously. Each of them held a small bottle full of creamy white fluid in one hand and a baby in the other. The tiny infant in Archer’s arms was sucking greedily. Cutler was having a bit more difficulty with her charge, who seemed more interested in sleeping than eating.
“She won’t let go of the nipple!” protested Archer. He tugged gently on the bottle, but the baby hung on as if permanently attached. Cutler smiled and looked up from her task.
“Just slip the tip of your finger into the corner of her mouth to break the suction,” she advised.
With a look of serious concentration, the captain managed to juggle both bottle and baby to do as she suggested. The nipple came out with a “pop”, and the infant immediately let out a wail. T’Mir winced and smiled at the same time. Archer’s expression was priceless.
“She’s crying! Now what do I do?” he asked in distress.
“Put the bottle down, flip her over, and pat her on the back until she burps,” replied Cutler calmly through the noise. The child’s lungs certainly seemed healthy.
Jonathan Archer set the bottle on the floor, gently lifted the baby to his shoulder, and began patting gingerly with his fingertips, as if he were afraid he’d injure the child. She continued to scream. Her face was turning a very interesting shade of bright red.
“Try it this way,” suggested Cutler. She pulled the bottle out of the second infant’s mouth without trouble, as he didn’t seem to be interested in it, flipped him between her forearms in one smooth motion, and propped her elbow on her knee, holding the baby’s chin in the space between her thumb and forefinger to support his head with his legs straddling her forearm. Then she began patting him gently but solidly between the shoulder blades. He obliged with a tiny burp after the fourth pat.
She’s definitely done this before, thought T’Mir, impressed.
Archer braved a firmer pat, and was rewarded with a resounding belch more appropriate to a grown man than an hours old infant girl and a shoulder full of partially digested baby formula. Cutler was chuckling at his disgusted expression when she appeared to notice T’Mir’s presence for the first time.
“Agent T’Mir! The doctor was looking for you,” she said as she flipped her infant back over again and reached for the bottle. She teased the corner of his mouth with the nipple and his sleepy eyes opened for a moment as he latched on, sucking lazily.
T’Mir acknowledged her statement with a nod. “I have come to assist him,” she replied.
“Ever feed a baby before? I could use some help, too,” quipped Captain Archer wryly. The infant in his arms had stopped screaming and had shoved a fist in her mouth. She was sucking on it avidly. He cradled her in his arm again, pulled the fist out, eliciting an immediate protest, and then rapidly inserted the bottle. She changed her mind mid-wail and began sucking noisily.
T’Mir’s lips twitched upward. “I have had limited experience in that area, Captain...but you appear to be a fast learner. May I offer my congratulations and my wish for your wife’s rapid recovery,” she replied. Archer’s smile became wistful, and his eyes focused over her shoulder to the bed where his wife lay. Elena Archer remained unresponsive.
“Thank you, Agent T’Mir,” he replied. “Phlox says he hopes she’ll wake up as soon as the seizure medicine’s out of her system. At least she’s breathing on her own, now,” he added hopefully.
“Her blood pressure has normalized and the swelling in her brain appears to be resolving as well,” added Phlox in a well-satisfied tone as he approached the group. Archer looked up and exchanged a grateful smile with him. Then he smiled down at the infant in his arms.
“Hear that, sweetie? Mommy’s getting better!” he said as he pulled the now empty bottle from his daughter’s mouth. He flipped her over his forearm the way Cutler had demonstrated previously and tapped her firmly on the back. This time the overflow landed on his shoe instead of his clothing. Ignoring the mess, he turned her over again and stared at the face of the contented infant in his arms with a besotted expression as she fell asleep.
Phlox turned to Cutler. “How’s the first feeding going?”
“Maria is feeding well. I was just about to insert a nasogastric tube and finish young Jon’s feeding by gavage. Looks like he still needs a little help,” replied Cutler briskly as she stood to place Archer’s sleeping son into the incubator. She grasped a sterile package containing a short length of thin, flexible tubing from the shelf beneath the mattress. Archer stood, still holding his sleeping daughter, and began to watch over Cutler’s shoulder.
T’Mir turned to Doctor Phlox.
“I understand that you have need of someone capable of a healing meld.” Her lips quirked in a self-deprecating half smile. “I don’t claim to be a fully trained healer, but I do have some experience in this one area.”
Phlox smiled back at her, shaking his head. “On the contrary, young lady,” he replied quietly as they walked to Lieutenant Sato’s bedside. “From what V’Dan, the healer on the Vakhlas has told me, you very well may be the only Vulcan under the age of 250 years capable of healing melds in this timeline. Keep in mind that the renaissance of melding techniques which followed the discovery of the Kirshara in your timeline is just beginning in ours. And your people had the Romulan occupation to provide them with the incentive to develop their talents.”
T’Mir raised a brow, refraining from comment. If she was the only option available, then expressing her doubts about her own abilities would serve no useful purpose. It didn’t stop the sudden churning in her stomach, though. It now appeared that the correction of the approved timeline rested solely on her shoulders. It was a frightening thought.
“Doctor! There’s another one! Help me! She’s gonna fry my brain!”
This rather startling exclamation came from a curtained biobed as the two of them walked by. There was an armed security guard stationed outside the curtain. The occupant was visible through a gap between the panels of hanging fabric. T’Mir barely.recognized Petty Officer Rostov. His face was wild with fear, and he struggled against physical restraints about his wrists, ankles, and chest similar to the restraints the healers in her own timeline had been forced to use on captive Romulan soldiers to prevent them from destroying themselves. It was apparent that he’d seen them both and that he considered her a threat. She couldn’t really blame him after what he’d been through, no matter how much he’d deserved it. Phlox smiled at her apologetically and approached the man’s bed. He picked up a hypospray from the bedside table, speaking soothingly.
“It’s all right, Mr. Rostov. No one’s going to hurt you. I’m just going to adjust your medication dose a bit. Calm down now. If you’ll calm down, I’ll be able to release your restraints and let you out of Sickbay.” He pressed the hypospray into the agitated man’s neck, and his eyes rolled back in his head. He relaxed completely, his head falling back on the pillow with a thump. Phlox left the cubicle, shaking his head.
“I’ve got him on the best antipsychotic available,” he murmured to T’Mir in a resigned voice. “I suppose I’ll just have to keep him sedated until he begins to respond.”
“Would you like me to take a look at him?” offered T’Mir. “I am familiar with a few mental calming techniques that can be taught via meld.”
Phlox exhaled heavily, shaking his head. “I’m afraid that if he became aware of your attempts it would break him completely. One of his delusions appears to be an overwhelming fear of Vulcans using mental powers to ‘alter his mind’. I don’t dare risk it at this stage.”
T’Mir nodded, relieved. Since her recent update from TEA headquarters she was fully aware of both the cause of Rostov’s condition and of its eventual outcome. Her mission parameters had made it quite clear that she was to offer palliative measures only, however, and that any attempt on her part to restore Rostov to sanity threatened the established timeline. She couldn’t help making the offer, though. Something within her balked at leaving any living being in such terror. Having the doctor’s reassurance that staying away from the patient was in his best interest relieved her guilt—marginally.
The two of them continued to the next bed and found Lieutenant Commander Reed seated in a chair next to Hoshi Sato’s unconscious form. He held one of her limp hands in both of his, rubbing it gently between thumb and forefinger. His expression was bleak when he looked up at Phlox.
“I’ve tried talking to her as you advised, Doctor,” he said sadly. “I don’t think she even knows I’m here.”
“Agent T’Mir has volunteered to attempt a healing meld...the same type of treatment which was successful in bringing Lieutenant Commander Hess out of a similar state after her encounter with Tolaris in the Kreptagh system,” replied Phlox reassuringly. Malcolm Reed’s eyes turned hopefully toward T’Mir, who gave him a hesitantly optimistic smile.
“I will do my best, Mr. Reed,” she told him. “It would be best if you remain here. I may require your assistance.” The armory officer gave her a questioning look as he vacated the chair to allow her to approach more closely, but asked no questions. T’Mir stepped forward. Hoshi Sato did not appear to be in any distress. Her face was motionless and serene. T’Mir couldn’t tell without further contact whether the serenity was that of a deep meditative state or whether it indicated an absence of higher level cortical functioning. She sincerely hoped it wasn’t the latter. She placed the first three fingers and the thumb of each hand on the human’s temples and closed her eyes.
“My mind to your mind...my thoughts to your thoughts,” she whispered in Vulcan. “Our minds are merging...Our minds are one...”
The name was familiar to her. Perhaps it might have been hers in another time...another place. But here, in this place, she had no name. She simply existed.
“HOSHIIIISATOOOO....” the voice shouted louder, now sounding nothing like the birds. It was a woman’s voice, and held no interest for her. She ignored it, and returned her attention to the tantalizing almost-meaningful birdsong. For an endless moment she contemplated it, trying to form structure from chaos, and seemed on the verge of succeeding when another voice, lower in timbre and more familiar to her somehow, made itself heard.
“Come back, sweetness. I need you...” begged the voice quietly. He sounded so very lonely and sad, this man who pleaded for her attention. The sound of his voice woke something within her, and she longed to search for him, but she was afraid. There was a reason she was here, she knew. The alternative was...disintegration...non-being...separation. She’d been torn...damaged somehow. This refuge she’d created was all that kept her sane. She opened her eyes and searched the grotto, standing up on the granite slab.
“I don’t know if I can come back,” she replied in a forlorn voice into the wind-whipped mist. A figure appeared within the spray of the waterfall. It seemed composed of water, like an ancient and legendary Kappa spirit, but instead of spiked teeth and a bowl-shaped head, the figure’s ears seemed spiked. That was fortunate, as she was fresh out of cucumbers and preferred not to offer blood instead. It extended a slender hand, mouthing the words, “Follow me” through the noise of the waterfall. She laughed.
“Do you think I’m crazy? Kappas eat people!” she cried out to the spirit, who had the grace to look somewhat chagrined by her statement. Then the water spirit seemed to reach behind her for another, pulling him to the fore. With a wrench of mixed joy and terror, the one who’d once been Hoshi Sato recognized him, and the memories came rushing back.
“Malcolm!” she cried out with tears flowing. Her face broke out in a wide, joyous smile, and casting all thought of danger to the winds, she threw herself into the frigid pool and began to swim. He met her at the base of the falls, his hands and body suddenly solid, secure and warm as he pulled her out of the icy water. The spirit... T’Mir thought Hoshi... wrapped her arms about their shoulders.
“Hold on to each other. I’ll guide you out,” said the water spirit turned Vulcan. Hoshi clung to both of them, and found herself traveling through a dark and featureless maelstrom of emptiness, a place where she’d been stripped of self. They collected the fragments of her memory as they went, and strengthened by two pairs of strong arms about her, she opened her eyes...
...to find a worried pair of grey eyes looking back at her. She blinked, and then smiled hesitantly. “Hi,” she whispered. Malcolm’s grin rivaled Phlox’s for sheer amplitude.
“Welcome back, sweetness,” he replied.
“You don’t hafta eat it all in one bite, Mal. Nobody’s gonna take it from ya,” teased Trip.
Malcolm chewed hastily and swallowed. “Just trying to finish and make my report before it’s time to go back on duty,” he replied with a slightly embarrassed smile. He covered a discreet belch with his fingers, and then pulled out a padd. T’Mir saw Trip and T’Pol exchange amused looks, and wondered what they were saying to each other. Their bond warmed her heart, and left her wondering whether she’d ever be fortunate enough to have such a link to another being. Just the thought of it brought an image of dark eyes and a dashing smile to mind. She suppressed the mental picture immediately and focused her attention on the earnest armory officer, somewhat flattered that no one thus far had even thought of asking her to leave what was turning out to be an impromptu command staff briefing.
“Rostov is still in restraints and under guard. The doctor hopes that with continued therapy he will become calm enough to transfer to the brig within a few days, and will hopefully be in good enough mental condition to be tried for espionage by the time we reach Earth,” began Malcolm in official tones. “He’s still not certain of Rostov’s medical prognosis, but his tentative diagnosis is a reactive psychosis. It’s Phlox’s opinion that Mr. Rostov hasn’t been completely sane for some time now, but that he’d managed to hide his delusions and remain functional. Unfortunately, his recent capture by the Vulcans has apparently caused a complete psychotic break.”
Trip sighed, shaking his head ruefully. “I had no idea the man was in trouble. He was an off duty drinker and a bit of a smart-ass, but he did his job well when he wasn’t hungover. You say you have proof that he was spying for Terra Prime?”
Malcolm nodded reluctantly, his eyes cutting toward T’Pol—almost guiltily, T’Mir thought. T’Pol cleared her throat and stared at the table, looking a tiny bit uncomfortable, and Trip did a double take, staring at her in surprise before turning back to Malcolm with a suddenly reddened face and a questioning expression. “And you were planning to tell me about this when, Lieutenant Commander....?” he asked cryptically. The dark haired Brit straightened to attention in his chair at his superior officer’s businesslike tone.
“It was my decision not to disturb you with the news until I had taken care of the problem, sir,” replied Malcolm stoutly. Trip eyed him with a hesitant smile, and his gaze fell back to T’Pol, who was drinking her tea with every appearance of innocence. He shook his head and dropped the subject. Judging from Commander Tucker’s expression, though, T’Mir was certain that Commander T’Pol had not yet heard the end of the discussion.
“Ahem...as far as Lieutenant Sato is concerned, thanks to Agent T’Mir...” Reed nodded at T’Mir with a smile of gratitude. She returned his nod graciously. “...Hoshi has regained consciousness. The doctor reports that she doesn’t appear to have suffered permanent neurologic damage from her experience on the Romulan shuttle, and with therapy and observation he anticipates a complete recovery.”
“That is very agreeable news,” replied T’Pol with typical restraint.
“What about the cap’n and his family?” asked Trip in a worried tone. He looked at T’Pol questioningly. “Last I heard, Elena was critical and Jon wasn’t fit for command.”
“The captain has decided to postpone an official announcement until his wife regains consciousness, but he and Elena became the parents of two healthy infants, one boy and one girl, at roughly 0900 this morning,” said Malcolm. Trip grinned in response to the news, and T’Mir noticed his hand reaching out to grip T’Pol’s fingers where they rested on her knee beneath the tabletop. Her face remained pleasantly impassive, but she laced her fingers in his.
“Doctor Phlox wanted me to add that as of 1145 hours, Mrs. Archer was beginning to show signs of improvement, and that he’d officially changed the captain’s status from medical leave to paternity leave,” added Malcolm. “This will still leave you in command until we arrive home, Commander...” he said, addressing T’Pol, “...but the captain is available in the event of an emergency.”
“As long as we are able to avoid further encounters with the Romulans, our return to Earth should proceed without difficulty,” replied T’Pol dryly. “I don’t anticipate a need for the captain’s assistance.”
An alert tone sounded from the comm unit on the wall, followed by a male voice.
“Norfleet to Lieutenant Commander Reed. The prisoner is asking for you, sir. You asked to be informed when he seemed coherent enough for questioning.”
Reed rose from his chair to answer. Stepping to the wall, he activated the comm and replied, “I’m in a command staff briefing, but I’ll be there shortly. Is he cooperative?”
“He seems to be, sir...but the doctor recommends continued restraints. He’s very unpredictable.”
“Understood. I’d prefer a more secure location for interrogation than Sickbay. See if the doctor will authorize a transfer to the brig in restraints. Notify me with his decision.”
Reed turned to Commander T’Pol with a questioning expression. She nodded.
“Thank you, Mr. Reed. You’re dismissed.”
The Chief of Security gave each of them a polite nod before he exited the room with a confident stride. Commander Tucker’s gaze followed him out of the room. He smiled as the door closed.
“I guess Mal’s back to normal again,” he commented to no one in particular. Beneath the table, his fingers remained firmly in the grip of the acting captain of Enterprise. T’Mir studied her foster mother’s expression. Her eyes rested on Trip Tucker’s face as he contemplated his friend’s recovery. She didn’t smile, of course, but she looked as if she were about to.
Mr. Reed’s not the only one who’s back to normal again, thought T’Mir with approval.
End of Episode Eight.
Episode 9 To Boldly Go: Season 6 Finale
Return to Episode 7 Khellian: The Flesh is Weak
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