If you are seeing this paragraph, the site is not displaying correctly. You can see the content, but your current browser does not support CSS which is necessary to view our site properly. For the best visual experience, you will need to upgrade your browser to Netscape 6.0 or higher, MSIE 5.5 or higher, or Opera 3.6 or higher. If, however, you don't wish to upgrade your browser, scroll down and read the content - everything is still visible, it just doesn't look as pretty.
The Forgotten Time II: Ashaya-Ch 12
Author - enterpriseScribe
Fan Fiction Main Page | Stories sorted by title, author, genre, and rating
The Forgotten Time II: Ashaya
A/N: All Vulcan words are my best try from the Vulcan Language Database. :-)
Timeframe: Between episodes Kir’Shara and Daedalus—circa January 2155..
Overseer P’Lek’s calm physiognomy filled the small, square screen. “I regret that you are…having difficulties…getting your crew to report in,” he offered delicately. “However, your concern over two people is hardly reason enough to allow you access to the no-fly zone. Tensions are high. There would most certainly be…an incident. I am sure you understand.”
“There are weird biosigns in their immediate vicinity,” Archer reminded his Vulcan counterpart for the third time, ignoring the thinly veiled threat.
“As you say,” P’Lek allowed. “However, your ‘weird’ readings have yet to be substantiated. I assure you that were there any hostilities—any weapons fire—in the area, our regional security scanners would have picked it up.”
“Really,” the captain countered angrily. “And how ‘bout when someone gets silently strangled by a Suliban agent? Huh? Y’think the security system’d pick up on that?”
At the stricken look on P’Lek’s face, Archer stopped shouting. He swallowed, breathing, trying to read the other man’s face. Fear at being found out before they were ready? Or simply revulsion at a human’s emotional outburst? He sighed. He could almost hear T’Pol’s absent voice in his ear, advising quiet prudence.
He looked up again at P’Lek. The older man was waiting warily, as if for another outburst.
“Look.” Archer levelled with him. “This is my chief engineer and my first officer we’re talking about. They’re both irreplaceable crewmen. They’re both my friends. Enterprise came here, at your request, to help keep the Andorians from declaring war. I’m sure there’s something you can do.” A slightly adamant note crept back into his voice. Impatience was his nature.
“I am sure that your crewmen are fine,” P’Lek maintained calmly. “However, I will see that your request is forwarded to the committee in charge of these issues.” He spread his hands as if to indicate his humble status. “I am an overseer, Captain, nothing more.”
Archer eyed the man searchingly for a moment, before tersely replying through a sudden, large, grim smile. “Well, thank you, Overseer. Any assistance you can offer will be most appreciated.” Archer cut off any chance the Vulcan had to respond with a swift jab at his console and sat back violently in his padded chair, seething.
“That didn’t go too badly,” Hoshi observed tentatively. She and Malcolm had set up a secure link with the surface from the captain‘s ready room. The chances were anything that any number of Suliban could be anywhere. They couldn’t risk being overheard, and yet they couldn’t really do anything ensure that they wouldn’t be.
The captain sighed and looked over at his young comm officer’s anxious face. He smiled tiredly. “No,” he agreed, “I guess it could have gone worse.”
Hoshi was prevented from having to formulate another optimistic reply by a beep from the comm panel. The captain hit it. “Archer here.”
Travis’ earnest voice came over the speaker. “Captain, the Andorian ship has increased speed by 22.5 kilometres per hour.”
The captain glanced strangely at Hoshi before again addressing Travis’ invisible presence. “And?”
Travis paused before replying. “Well…nothing, sir. They’re just holding at their new speed. I just thought you should know, sir. They’re matching us, sir.”
“They’re matching our speed?” the captain repeated.
“Thanks Travis,” Archer said, moving to the window. “Keep me posted.”
Hoshi joined Archer at the glass. The tiny rebel ship hung—seemingly motionless now—between them and the massively turning planet they all orbited.
“What the hell are they up to?” Archer muttered.
* * *
Trip could remember smashing his head in the night, during his detour out of the timeline. A scream fit to wake the dead had curdled from his lower bunkmate’s lips and he’d cracked his forehead sitting up too quickly.
The same terrified creature crouched now, on the centre of the bed before him, poised to flee like an insect in the sudden drench of lamplight.
Talk about déjà vu. “T’Pol,” Trip said—quietly and calmly, but insistently. “It’s just a dream. There’s nothing. That’s all it was.” He reached out to rub her quivering upper arm and she jerked spasmodically, causing him to snatch his hand back. But she remained still enough within her cocoon of quilts that he let himself relax, pretty sure she wouldn’t scamper off into the night.
“I don’t like dreams,” T’Pol quavered: both mentally and with aching larynx.
“I know y’don’t,” Trip empathised. “Hell, if my dreams were usually anything like that one, I wouldn’t like dreams either.” He felt like kicking himself. “We never really made time for you to meditate. I’m sorry.”
T’Pol could feel his remorse keenly, and the strong, real feeling of his concern for her well-being washed the shadowy half-things of their shared nightmare to the sides of her mind. She put out a cold hand toward him. “Don’t blame yourself,” she said, shivering. “I was the one who forgot.”
Trip pulled her towards him and tucked the tossed blanket around them both. They remained sitting in the middle of the bed—a warm lifeboat on a cold black ocean of nightmares. He flexed his right hand, his flesh still remembering where the roots of the fruit tree had twined into ligament and bone.
T’Pol watched Trip’s face strangely, as she observed his mind filing the dream experience neatly away: examining each portion, naming it, and thus rendering it harmless. Trip was hardly conscious of the process as his thoughts wandered, seemingly aimlessly. Within a few moments of awakening, his mental landscape was cheerful enough, if still shaky with unused adrenaline. In fact, she realised, some—no doubt, testosterone-ruled—part of his mind had almost relished the terror of waking, followed by the immediate, deep, drinking relief of lamplit reality sluicing over and around them both.
“Are your dreams normally like this?” T’Pol queried in some disbelief. No wonder the human race was so basically savage. Who could blame them—riding these waves of hallucination and terror through the long hours of sleep each night.
Trip chuckled quietly. “Hell, no. I hardly remember most of my dreams. They’re usually about some borin’ engineering problem, or just walking around doing stuff. Maybe havin’ lunch with you, or Malcolm. They’re usually kind of weird. Like the fruit tree on my hand.” He made a fist again, stretching his fingers. “Or being in the meat cooler. Did you see that bit?”
T’Pol nodded in some revulsion as she recalled the feel of the cold, tight packets of edible red flesh in their clear steri-wrap packaging. They had stuck and clung against Trip’s skin before he climbed out of the cooler.
“I was looking out from what seemed to be your point of view,” T’Pol elaborated in a subdued voice. “Before you left the building. Then I found myself in the marital procession, and I didn’t see you again until after everything stopped. But I could tell you were behind me.”
Trip could now remember the dream ceremony from the bride’s point of view. Koss’ oppressively close face; the thick scent of the priest’s incense-choked robes; the feel of the one person behind her she was putting all her energy into—and drawing energy from—in order that she might survive this ordeal.
Trip tucked her head against his shoulder and whispered next to her ear. “I didn’t really have any idea how you were feeling that day. I mean, looking back now…I guess our bond should have been kind of obvious. But at the time, I really had no idea. I just put all the weird feelings I was having down to my own heart.”
T’Pol thought back to those few short days in this, her own house, with her mother and her mate. How close she and Trip had finally come to joining paths: and at the last second—as always—veering apart, hearts breaking.
Hey, now, Trip reminded her sternly. Don’t start wishing you’d gone down that road. It didn’t lead anywhere pretty, remember? He didn’t actually invoke their memories of Charles, but they both knew to what he was referring.
You’re right, T’Pol floated back. But, you must agree it is somewhat disturbing how exceedingly complicated interpersonal relationships based on choice and emotion become. It seems impossible that anyone should ever manage to successfully achieve one.
Unless y’can hear what each other’s thinkin’, Trip added humorously, still holding her tightly, waiting for her tense, nervy body to warm up and relax.
T’Pol finally managed to look up at him with some sense of her usual dry self. “I suspect that unlimited access to the other’s opinions would likely hinder more relationships than it helped.”
As Trip considered some of the private things he’d thought about the few past women there were in his life, he agreed. An open comm channel wouldn’t have greased the gears any.
It made him glad that their particular situation was so completely bizarre and untried: any attempt at personal effrontery was rendered inert before it even really formed. Manners and customs—by very definition—couldn’t apply to something brand-new. And their particular relationship was unique in the universe, as far as he knew or cared.
“Y’feelin’ any better now?” Trip asked quietly, after a moment’s silence.
“I feel like Koss is nearby,” T’Pol admitted honestly, illogically. She knew there was no point in pretending things in front of Trip. It was a waste of time.
“That’s just ‘cause you’re not used to nightmares.” He reached over to the bedside lamp and dimmed it a little. The bright light was too harsh for their sleep-sanded eyes. “I know how ridiculous it feels to be terrified after you wake up, but it’s totally normal. We’ll just give it a few minutes.”
Tired out, they lay back down together in the halfdark.
“Was that you?” Trip finally asked. He’d been wondering since she had materialized. The slight, brown-haired child with the match.
T’Pol nodded, unsure if she really wanted to talk about the frightening little apparition who had shouted at them so bloodfreezingly.
Trip hesitated, unwilling to just pull the answer from her jumpy, nervous mind. “So, you, uh, y’meant it before, when you said you set him on fire?”
T’Pol eyed him, grateful that he was at least only asking instead of just looking at her memory. “Yes. I was eight at the time. Fortunately, he wasn’t injured. His father was nearby with a glass of water. Koss’ ceremonial tunic, however, was irreparable.” Her voice stated the facts as if they were of mild interest, but of no real import.
“You’ve always been a bit of a trouble-maker, haven’t you?” Trip asked, with a wee bit of pride in his voice.
“I suppose one might describe me that way. If one was looking for trouble.” T’Pol replied quietly, barely registering her own small joke.
She still couldn’t shake the feeling of Koss. How narrowly she had escaped him. In fact, only the death of her mother had finally freed her from his lifelong claims. An initial surge of automatic guilt at this thought was replaced abruptly by the startling revelation that T’Les may well have considered it a worthy sacrifice. Those personal logs had been more than eye-opening. They had posthumously changed T’Pol’s relationship with her mother.
“Y’really think your mom would have approved of you, y’know, dillydallying with a human?” Trip asked somewhat disbelievingly, as he heard T‘Pol‘s inner musings. “I mean, I know I fixed her stasis unit an’ all, but—”
T’Pol said nothing, simply showing him some of the things the recorded T’Les had said while he had been sleeping. The fears she’d had for herself over her building interest in the Kir’Shara. The violent factions of traditionalists who would have their world purged of anyone who might disrupt the status quo. Her suspicion of the fundamentalist mc’E’shua family and their evil son Koss. Her misgivings—never before voiced in T’Pol’s hearing—over the suitability of the match between him and her only child. Her fears of what living with his cold family for a year would do to her headstrong daughter’s ‘sensitive’ spirit.
T’Pol related this last bit with the ironic air of one who felt her mother was too doting. However, Trip privately agreed with T’Les. That particular arrangement probably would have lasted two weeks and ended in T’Pol’s arrest for crimes of some shocking nature against the doltish Koss and/or his family.
Trip also caught a few specifically redeeming comments his mother-in-law-to-be had made about himself, but T’Pol, concerned for the size of his ego, cut him off from her recollection before his human pride could get too swelled. Trip tried in vain to snatch at the ideas, but she clambered nakedly off the bed and pulled a robe on in the soft grey light of T’Khut, thus diverting his attention and spoiling his concentration.
I’m getting a glass of water, she thought at him as she slipped from the room.
Trip grinned at his wife’s uncharacteristic sauciness and resettled the blankets. It really was cold. He estimated it was about a half hour before dawn. No point in trying to get back to sleep. Trip considered following her into the kitchen to start breakfast; but, on rational reflection, he concluded that the most logical thing for him to do was to wait for her to return to the warm bed—before they started anything as distracting as breakfast.
* * *
Koss held his breath as he approached the garden entrance. As a symbolic sign of good faith, most respectable Vulcan families included their children’s betrothed in the list of persons to whom a household lock would permit entry.
Though the custom was falling out of fashion in recent years, Koss’ mother was of the traditionalist type. Koss recalled the day he and T’Pol, as children, had ceremonially traveled to both homes to record their thumbprints into the respective security systems. A centuries-old convention.
Rigid custom, and a total lack of mutual contact during the growing years, ensured that such a designation remained highly ceremonial. Certainly any respectable Vulcan would laugh heartily at a good joke before he would even consider letting himself into the house of his ko-kugalsu with his Joining Key. Not before they were wed.
That was, of course, assuming that one’s ko-kugalsu was herself respectable, Koss reasoned spitefully.
And surely she would have removed his ID by now, in any case?
Koss licked his dry lips and looked around. He squared his shoulders and professionally pushed his fears away. Thumb out, he reached out for the small panel by the doorhandle.
* * *
T’Pol finished her first glass of water quickly and poured a second, shivering in the cool, dry air of the early morning. She wandered into the main seating area, looking at her mother’s things, sipping slowly, dimly aware of Trip waiting for her in the other room. The house would heat itself quickly after sunrise, but now, in the cold of pre-dawn, T’Pol could certainly see the logic of going back to bed for a few more minutes. Just to warm up.
Her pale, greenish feet ached with the cold of the tiles, and she stepped onto the thick living room rug, rubbing her soles against the pile to warm them with friction. She turned, shuffling heat into her toes, thinking of the incredibly arid atmosphere of her childhood home and the feel of the sparks she used to make, years ago, on flesh and metal (if wearing a certain pair of slippers) by marching around on this very rug.
T’Pol had noticed recently that her feet and ankles tended to ache noticeably when exposed to cold for any length of time. She reflected that she was hardly as young as she used to be, and that she had been tearing around the galaxy during the last few years, like a mere stripling fifty-year-old.
T’Pol smiled inwardly as she contemplated how frequently and completely Trip was able to forget her true age. Though he never showed anything but respect, she could tell that he often failed to remember the fact that she had very nearly twice his years. She knew he found it distinctly bizarre every single time he realised he had the hots for a sixty-six-year-old.
Not that it prevented said hots in any way.
T’Pol considered the colloquialism that had just occurred to her thoughts, as if from nowhere. She found these lapses to be extremely remarkable from a scientific point of view—if unsettling. Were she to start spouting any of the more colourful of Trip’s many epithets, she would worry seriously; but for now, it was merely another odd aspect of her unique relationship with this human.
She held her empty cup out in the quiet moonlight, thinking of Trip and appreciating the beauty of T’Khut’s silvery reflection in the curved, limpid glass.
* * *
Koss let out a breath he hadn’t realised he was holding, when his thumb hit the entry pad. Nothing happened. If he hadn’t been named as one allowed to gain entry, a signal would have sounded at his attempt. But, then again, if he was listed as an allowable person, why hadn’t the door opened automatically? He bent and inspected the small pad. Ah, not functioning. It appeared that whoever had last left… had neglected to lock the doors.
Koss reached out and simply turned the doorhandle. It opened silently and he slipped past the threshold, closing the door softly behind him. He looked all about before moving a step, as if waiting for several people to jump out and yell surprise. Finally, satisfied that he was undetected, he crept down a small passage connected to the main hall.
He didn’t like to pass so many closed doors in the pitch black house, but he was uncertain of the location of any light switch. He knew T’Les had never had a central computer installed in the house, so he didn’t raise his voice to ask for illumination.
And then, at the very end of the main hallway, Koss stopped dead in his tracks.
T’Pol stood, her back to him, in a pool of filmy T’Khut-light in the middle of the living room. Clad only in a light silver-grey satin robe, and dangling an empty glass in her hand, she was turning in place on the floor, chafing her feet against the rough fibres of the moonsoaked carpet. As the side of her face became visible, Koss could see that her eyes were closed, her features dreamy, and a human smile played softly about her lips. Koss felt a wave of revulsion for his wife—ex-wife!—and her uncanny ways, even as his eyes appreciated the close fit of her clinging robe, her chill nipples standing firmly through the thin, shiny fabric.
T’Pol’s eyes snapped open. She would have gasped at the site of Koss standing before her in the dark room, but he had already instinctively lifted his phase emitter, hitting her squarely and silently in the chest with its pale pink beam. Even as she recognised him, her face slackened, and she crumpled to the floor with a soft thud.
Koss set the field modulus and hurried forward to place the device near T’Pol’s head on the floor. Never having used anything similar, he was nervous about its effect on his own Vulcan mind, and he stood ready to bolt if he felt any urge to yawn. After a moment, it became clear to him that the field only worked on already-sleeping victims.
He experimented momentarily, putting the toe of his boot near the device, and finally kneeling to put his bare hand down by it. No effect. Though it was working well enough on T’Pol, he noted with a kind of gleeful malice. An extraordinary invention. Good for keeping a woman quiet.
After kneeling next to her in silence for a moment, he noted with some slight dismay her total torpor, and he nudged her with the back of his hand. T’Pol’s head tipped to the right on the thin stem of her totally relaxed neck, and her face flopped slackly toward the floor.
Slightly more nervous now, (he’d have a lot to explain if T’Pol expired for no reason with his prints all over the house), he pressed two fingers into the base of her throat and was surprised at his own relief upon feeling a thready pulse. Before getting up to search for their data, he put his face down to ensure that she breathed, and was again relieved at the faint warmth issuing from her open mouth.
Kneeling, listening for breath with a close ear, Koss noticed her robe had opened slightly during her fall. From his angle by her throat, a single moonlit breast was visible. He stared, motionless, at the strange illuminated form of his ex-wife’s exposed mammary, rising and falling slightly with her shallow breaths. A sight he had never yet seen in flesh.
Koss forgot entirely his self-absorbed concern for her well-being and, as if mesmerized, reached a hand forward.
* * *
Trip shifted again in the deliciously comfortable bed. Sleep kept threatening to overtake his exhausted mind. He promised himself that he would nap for thirty hours straight once he got back to the ship, and pried his eyes back open to await T’Pol’s return.
Finally, she’d been gone so long he was sure she was starting to make breakfast without him. He sat up just as he heard a soft thump from the direction of the kitchen. She was definitely up to something in there.
Trip resigned himself to the fact that he wouldn’t be getting lucky—not this morning, anyway—and pulled a pair of pyjama bottoms on. He grabbed his blue tank top from a duffel and put it on for some warmth in the chilly air.
Hey wait for me, Trip called out silently as he padded down the hall. He frowned, realising he couldn’t really seem to sense her brain at all. She was definitely there, but it was as if she was completely mute, somehow. His step quickened, and he reached the doorway to the main room. His hands went to either side of the doorframe in stunned disbelief at the impossible scene before him.
Koss knelt, unaware of Trip, next to T’Pol’s motionless form. A shaft of ghostly moonlight streamed over the two figures as Koss grasped the lapels of T’Pol’s robe and swiftly separated them to her waist, poised to strike at unconscious flesh.
“WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING??” Trip thundered, as he flung himself bodily across the fifteen foot gap that separated them.
At his voice, Koss whirled in place and whipped the phase emitter to bear with more speed than anyone would ever have given him credit for. The wide, pink beam sliced straight through Trip’s middle as he flung himself heavily upon Koss, tangling with arms and legs, and knocking him away from T’Pol’s inert form. The weapon Koss had fired carried no explosive yield and did nothing to prevent Trip’s momentum shoving them several feet across the bare stone of the tiled floor.
Koss heaved the human man’s limp form off with ease, his superior Vulcan strength allowing him to leap straightway for his emitter, which had clattered to one side. He picked it up, smirking to himself at its efficacy, and prepared to maintain the field for two sleeping victims.
A sudden, sick groan made him look up. The human man was up on his knees, trying to gain his feet. Koss aimed carefully and fired again. Unhampered by the beam, Trip continued to stand slowly, clearly having wrenched his back in his headlong rush to kill Koss. Trip finally looked up as Koss let go of the trigger and frowned at the emitter, giving it a bit of a useless shake. The Vulcan man stubbornly took aim and fired again, a longer burst this time, waving the beam like a medical scanner up and down Trip’s now fully-upright figure.
Trip watched this performance in some interest before stepping aside and sticking his hand back into the steady pink ribbon of energy. He glanced contemptuously as Koss. “Feels warm,” he commented. “Kind of nice.”
Koss stopped shooting in disgust and threw the still-active device down on the floor, where it continued to suppress T’Pol’s ability to waken.
Trip caught a thought that could only have been Koss’. “She didn’t tell ya it only worked on Vulcans, huh?” he guessed with cruel accuracy. Koss glowered, flexing his fists, but unwilling to take a step forward. Trip’s adrenaline surged at the thought of Koss’ cowardly nature. “You’ve just made a few big mistakes, buddy,” he said quietly, a savage kind of smile spreading instinctively over his face.
Trip was going to have to do whatever it took to neutralize this guy so he could see if T’Pol was okay. Whatever Koss had hit her with had worked horribly well. She lay motionless where she had been flung while Trip bowled Koss down. Trip hoped fervently she wasn’t dying—or dead already. He couldn’t sense her mind at all now, except with huge effort, and he cast about frantically to find her as he faced Koss, panting.
Koss’ eyes narrowed as he sensed Trip’s mind questing strongly for his ex-wife’s. Disgusting. So she taught you some of her foul tricks, did she? Koss shouted suddenly, blindingly into Trip’s soft, unsuspecting, human brain. He experienced a thrill of power as the human man fell to his knees.
Trip clutched uselessly at his skull. Koss stepped forward a pace, looking down at the feeble pink creature before him. He pressed his advantage before Trip could even respond to the first onslaught of violent thought. I think it is you who has made a few big mistakes, ‘buddy’. Koss face twisted with the sheer necessary repugnance of touching another’s mind, especially some brutish human whelp’s.
Koss circled like a hyena. The human was completely unprepared for the whiplashes of electricity the older man was cracking into his open thoughts. Trip had only ever shared noble things with T’Pol, and while at times overwhelming, it was nothing like the slicing, hurtful power of Koss’ unstaunched Vulcan hatred.
Cannot you see, man? This riko-guv-aitlun has been pulling you around by your lok, you fool! She has used many men for her purposes. You are hardly the first.
Trip strained not to buckle under the force of the evil, practiced mind bending smoothly against his own untrained and feeble efforts. Koss barked a short, derisive laugh. Give up. It is nauseating to watch these childish endeavours. Vulcans learn the basics of thought control before age five. Though you are shockingly juvenile for someone of T’Pol’s age, you at least should be able to hold your mind upright! What will she think of you?
The teasing was goading his rage, but it was the thought of what would likely happen to T’Pol if he let Koss prevail that finally gave Trip a last shot of animal energy. He gathered together all of his self-righteous wrath and every desperate protective emotion in his heart and flung it in a sticky explosive bomb at Koss’ unprepared mind.
Lashing out with his brain was a new experience for Trip, and the kickback nearly floored him. But, staggering, he was gratified to see Koss unexpectedly lurch, eyes bulging. Seemed that greed, cowardice, and concern-for-one’s-own-welfare didn’t qualify Koss a much of an expert on emotion in general. Trip took brief, frantic breaths between beating at Koss with every feeling he could lay his hands upon.
These had the effect of magnifying Koss’ own large misgivings into full-blown emotions of his own, which then turned traitorously upon their creator, their voices clamouring to be heard high above all the rest. He stumbled while Trip held on, beaming everything he had at the intruder—a new swimmer drowning to save another from a riptide.
The strain becoming too much for Trip’s newly conceived talents, he crawled over to Koss’ hunched form on the floor, determined to strangle him with his fists if he had to before he let up for even a second. The two men gasped and panted as they stared, inches apart, into one another’s hate-filled eyes. Feebly, uselessly—falling to their knees as drunks—they grappled faintly with one another’s physical forms. But clearly the battle was being waged totally from within…and it was quickly becoming one of attrition. Trip thought irrelevantly of Burke and Bowen’s 110-round boxing match, as he summoned up the last of his life force, grabbed onto the front of Koss’ robes and planted his hand over the larger man’s face to increase their link.
“I may be goin’ down…” Trip grunted into Koss’ pointed ear, “but damned if I’m not draggin’ you with me, grandpa.” He forced Koss downward and on to the floor, the stronger man’s muscles rendered useless in the face of an emotional onslaught he had zero experience with. Trip reached out with his free hand and smacked at the phase emitter which was still lying activated on the floor. He finally slipped under a wave of magnetic blackness as Koss’ cold fingers frantically closed over the bones of his face.
* * *
A ringing bell called the monks to khru-dhahq. Vespers. T’Pol looked around the stone courtyard slowly, but no one else was stirring in the priory. She blinked slowly, the scene blurring brightly, before emerging from the still, pond-like dream of the monastery at Mount Seleya. The ringing sound was in her own head, she realised with some surprise. After a moment, she pushed herself upward until she was sitting on the floor.
A cold breeze made her glance down, and she realised her wrap had somehow slid wide open under the knot of the belt-tie. She tucked the robe tightly around herself, retying it and trying to remember what it was she was supposed to be doing here on her mother’s living room floor. Getting shakily to her feet, she turned. The sight that met her eyes almost sent her back to the floor in a dead faint. She fell instead to hands and knees and crawled, her robe hampering her, toward Trip and Koss’ lifelessly entwined forms.
* * *
T’Zela puffed clouds out in the chill air and breathed on her hands.
Xillim watched her from under thick, slanted brows. “He is taking too long,” he finally hissed. “We should investigate.”
With a sharp smack to the back of his mind, T’Zela reminded Xillim who was the subordinate.
“As you say,” he conceded, his face darkening above her in the dim light from the street. “But what if this Vulcan ravot costs you your rank? Who will be the senior officer then?”
T’Zela eyed him sharply, tempted to reprimand him again for his insolence. However, he was right. They were in a hurry. She scanned again. No biosigns. Not even Koss’.
She met Xillim’s eye. “Not a word,” she spat, leading the way toward the entrance Koss had used.
* * *
Trying to push Koss aside, T’Pol was shocked and dismayed to find the stubby fingers of his left hand still tightly clinging to Trip’s face, fingernails crushing the younger man’s flesh and dragging his lower eyelid down unnaturally. She wrenched Koss’ hand away and flung it aside, ignoring his vilely bugging eyes. T’Pol didn’t care yet if Koss was alive, dead, or waxen. She had first to see what he had done to Trip.
She stroked back Trip’s hair, trying not to panic as she assessed his situation, while simultaneously trying to figure out what had happened. How had Koss gained entry? She gently slapped Trip’s cheeks to gauge his reaction. None. What had passed between them? Why hadn’t she awakened? Trip was breathing, but she couldn’t sense his mind anywhere at all. She couldn’t know what to do to help him until she knew what was wrong with him.
T’Pol stood, glancing around the room for clues. She picked up a strange, inactive, pistol-shaped device off the floor. She seemed to remember Koss pointing it at her before everything went blank. Not daring to discharge it to see what type of weapon it might be, she simply inspected it for any signs and, finding none, threw it to the couch as temporarily useless. Perhaps Reed could assist in tracing it later.
Standing above Trip, T’Pol tried again in vain to penetrate through to his mind. Nothing. Avoiding fear was extremely difficult for her, now that she had been shown how to express it, and her helper wasn’t able to assist. She swallowed, reminding herself that she herself would need rescue, if she simply sat on the floor and whimpered as she was tempted. The thought of her crewmates finding her in such a state, Trip likely beyond help, was more that she could bear.
Girding a brittle, flinty resolve around her soul, she began to formulate a plan. Shoving Koss with a cold foot, she could see he was in a similar state to Trip’s, if not even more catatonic. Clearly some neurological phenomenon was at stake. Phlox was the only physician she trusted, but, by his own admission, he wasn’t at all versed in Vulcan psi disorders.
She would need to find a priest planetside and convince them to accompany her to the ship with the two sick men. Her spirit sagged at the low chance that she would ever find someone willing on such short notice. She had been off-world for too long; she had no contacts in the clergy.
Her mother would have known who to call. Tears filled her eyes as she struggled for an answer. A voice drifted through her mind. Her sister’s voice. Charles’ wife. T’Saru.
Of course. The priest who had married them in the alternate timeline. T’Pol dimly remembered the woman: a dear, ancient acquaintance of her mother’s. The youthful, judgemental T’Pol of the past had considered the priest to be unacceptably outlandish and had never cultivated a friendship of her own.
However, T’Pol mused grimly, dragging Trip into the kitchen area, she has helped before. Perhaps she will again. T’Pol looked down at Trip’s motionless form. She hated to leave him, but she had to momentarily, to contact the ship. Soon they would have help.
Hope kicked in T’Pol’s chest, as she left Trip concealed behind the kitchen island and started to make her way pass Koss’ breathing corpse to the front hall where her mother’s communication panel rested.
Before she had gone twelve steps, a shot of searing red linear fire singed her hair and caused her to leap instinctively aside. Landing heavily on a shoulder, her head cracked resoundingly against the floor. Sparks burst. She heard a now-familiar voice call out harshly.
“The Vulcan bitch is here! And the human!”
T’Pol entirely blocked out the agony in her skull and rolled behind the couch for protection. During a nanosecond of respite, she thought furiously, the dull, throbbing non-pain of her cracked skull bones distracting her with every heartbeat. Some spirit pulled her face up by the hair and she found herself staring into the glass front of her parents’ antique locking cabinet. Near teetotallers, they had stored the vintage skamukaun and naliveh in there.
And one other thing. Her Sa’mekh’al’s pohshayek. An ancient Romulan disruptor. Father had locked it away after T’Pol developed a keen childhood interest in family lore. It had belonged to a grandfather’s great-grandfather, a Romulan man who took a Vulcan wife. Though ancient, the pistol was deadly, its praseo-thorium chemical power cell still undrained.
These recollections occurring outside time, T’Pol instantaneously flung herself toward the cabinet. She smashed the thick, cut glass with a closed fist, grunting as a sharp shard slipped jaggedly into the flesh of her left wrist and sliced sickeningly against tendon. T’Pol lifted her slashed arm away from the green-splashed edge and thrust her good right hand into the space behind the bottles, grappling frantically for the pistol that she knew would never still be there. How many years since A’nirih had tucked it away, a stern warning on his lips against her ever touching it? Too many.
Her hand closed on the gun.
T’Pol wrenched it out, flipped her body around drunkenly, and faced the end of a newer, longer weapon. Backing herself against the sharp edges of the shattered glass sticking out of the ruined cabinet, T’Pol stared up at her nemesis with narrowed eyes.
In response, T’Zela smiled down at T’Pol almost angelically. The effect of the expression upon her Vulcanish face was meant to throw T’Pol off. Instead it galvanized the bleeding woman’s certainty that whatever this woman was, she wasn’t Vulcan.
T’Zela took careful aim with her rifle. She held the pose, still grinning at T’Pol, and spoke to Xillim who stood ten paces behind her.
“It really is too bad we didn’t get here earlier, Xillim. I’ll wager you too could have sampled Vulcan’s sexual wares. If this stick is half as slutty as Koss—”
T’Pol lifted her arm and fired partway through the woman’s narcissistic speech. T’Zela screamed under the sizzling feedback of the most painfully primitive Romulan disruptor known to the galaxy. Though equally deadly, the efficient gun models of the future at least made the killing process much quicker. T’Pol tried not to faint in horror as the woman writhed before her, vanishing in a selfmade, insideout, humanoid-shaped black hole of paroxiastic agony.
Nothing remained except a curious twist of black smoke and the sickening, barbecue scent of roasted animal flesh.
Xillim had thrown his hands up in shock at the unexpected and blinding incineration of his partner. The brilliance of the blast left his retinae spotty, and he whipped wildly from side to side, looking for his dropped rifle.
T’Pol hesitated the tiniest fraction of a second, unwilling to inflict that kind of end on another creature. But Xillim spied his rifle and dove for it, forcing T’Pol to squeeze the trigger again.
It clicked. Nothing happened.
Somewhat unhinged, Xillim laughed wildly at this. Wishing to extract revenge from the woman who had murdered his partner, he slowly approached, a predator in sight of prey, rifle slack in his confident hand.
T’Pol started panting, clicking the trigger uselessly and looking over at Trip’s motionless form across the floor. He had been wrong. They would die together. At least it would solve his concerns about her lonely retirement, she thought tangentially, illogically to herself.
Xillim stopped a few feet away from her and spat on the ground at her feet.
T’Pol didn’t twitch a muscle. Xillim was a disgusting, arrogant man. And she may be condemned to die here, but she could also hear something he couldn’t.
She was taking him with her.
The faint whine in the useless disruptor T’Pol still held increased exponentially. She felt the handle vibrating, but she forced herself to hold it—hold it—until the last possible instant, when she could feel the very atoms of the thing about to smash past her flesh. She flung the pistol smoothly into the gaping face of Xillim.
He caught the screaming, smoking thing in fumbling hands and immediately spun, hurling it away toward the window.
A fabulous double pass, but too late. The disruptor overloaded even as Xillim hurled the handful of ignition away from himself.
T’Pol saw none of this, having immediately, instinctively, flung herself behind the nearest furniture to shield herself from the blast. Afterward was only silence. Her ears felt stuffed with cotton.
She cradled her slick, emerald-glistening arm to her chest, finally noticing how much blood she had lost. There were green stains everywhere. Her mother would have been fit to be tied. The strange image was the last thing T’Pol knew before blackness descended.
* * *
Khas strode down the filthy corridor of his rebel ship.
It had once been used as a garbage scow, toting toxic waste from one place to another. That had all changed with the latinum his father had left him. Khas had picked it up for a song at an interstellar auction. An agent made the purchase of course. You didn’t want a paper trail pointing to your name.
Mental or otherwise, thought Khas as he remembered how he’d garrotted the agent shortly after the transaction had been completed. Not for nothing was he the most completely anonymous rebel captain in Andorian history.
And now he was being forced to deal with an even lower form of scum. He scowled and entered a turbolift, bashing the button twice with a fist to make the lift respond with a jarring sensation and a reluctant downward shudder.
The Suliban. Freakier-faced, more devil-sold bastards he’d never lain antennae upon. But who else could provide the weapons they did? Who else the crafty protection? Especially now that they were in the grips of those pointy-eared, lifeless jequhas. He was glad that his alliance with the Suliban, though repugnant, was strong.
He reflected on his duplicitous dealings with a smug sense of pride. His father would have been pleased. And when he was though with them? He smiled as he exited the lift on one of the lowest decks.
Dim, red lighting barely illuminated the soulless grating and greasy machinery. Why Vessik had asked to meet him here of all places. Something wrong with one of the new torpedo launchers. He wasn’t surprised. The shock was that the futuristic technology had even worked as well as it had.
Khas made his way through the foul, dangling mess of the underbelly of the ship, mentally noting that he should send someone down here on punishment. If only to clear a reasonable path through the trash, he thought, violently bashing some loose piping aside.
Finally he had arrived at the region of juxtaposition. Newer-than-new gleaming white death-machines married freakishly with the fouled old tritanium hull. Fingerprints and smears of grime transferred from the dank surroundings were patterned all over the white access panels. For the first time, Khas felt a twist of embarrassment for his poor hulk of a ship. A voice cut off his useless musings.
It was Vessik. Khas recognised the voice instantly and abhorred how well he had come to know his partner. Too well. It was time to end things, he decided. He would have to think about the best way to go about it.
Meanwhile he slipped into the cramped area that Vessik was working on. He had a box of tools next to him: a mishmash of various vintages. Cluttered in with Khas’ own well-used hyper spanners and scanners were the devices of other timelines. Some blinking; some inscrutable, seamless black; one that looked like a primitive bashing tool: a longish wooden handle with a double-ended head made of a single piece of iron. One side was a dulled, round slug, the other, a two-tined curve. A vicious thing really.
Khas was intrigued and plucked it from among a 23rd century scanner and a 27th century fusionwelding device. Vessik looked up, his antennae twisting bizarrely, as usual. Khas hefted the archaic tool in his hand.
“Ah, you like that, eh?” Vessik asked with the appreciative tone of an antiques dealer. He leaned forward to again poke at a relay and spoke loudly from within the depths of the opened panel. “Got that on Earth. 17th century. Astonishingly useful, really. Couldn‘t get by without it.”
Khas imagined being free to drive the blunted end into the back of Vessik’s blue skull. Would he change back? Khas mused, or would he simply resemble a dead Andorian? Unfortunately, there was no quantitative way to tell at present, as he still needed the Suliban man’s expertise. However, afterward….
Vessik pulled out of the panel again, giving Khas a strange look.
Khas swallowed nervously, unable, as always, to be sure if Vessik’s DNA alteration stopped at his body. He got the distinct impression at times that the other man could hear his thoughts.
Vessik’s antennae randomly adopted another unlikely pose: that of a mating woman on the right and a terrified child on the left.
Khas dropped the hammer with a loud clang, scoffing at the false Andorian in irritation. “You really must work on your posture,” he shot at Vessik. “Your antennae are always suggesting the stupidest things.”
“It would be difficult for them to do otherwise,” replied Vessik smoothly, “being so intrinsically stupid themselves.”
Khas swallowed back his bile at Vessik’s latest delicate jibe against his people and simply asked tightly, impatiently, “What was it you wanted to show me?”
“It’s in here,” Vessik said amiably enough. He put down his tools and entered he torpedo tube, gesturing that Khas should follow.
* * *
Hearing was the first to return. T’Pol gripped her blind face as voices shouted inexorably through her fragile, concussed ears. A second injection unit pressed efficiently against her neck; T’Pol felt the sudden, almost-pain of the drug infiltrating her tissues. This one must have been a stimulant-analgesic.
After a moment, T’Pol slowly, determinedly, pushed herself to a sitting position—the various clamouring aches and pains throughout her body dulling to a general background roar. The room stunk of blood, carbon, and antiseptic.
Finally resting semi-upright, with the help of a strong arm under her shoulder, T’Pol looked straight across the room at the neatly collected remains of a Suliban. The severed head stared lifelessly at her from atop its own kneecaps, the unburned skin of the alien’s face a familiar mottled rice pilaf in the golden, lancing rays of the rising sun.
A brisk investigator shook out a thin tarp and covered the body parts. Gagging, T’Pol shook violently with a convulsive, light-headed lack of oxygen. The assisting Vulcan paramedic immediately laid her back down upon the sticky floor.
“You have lost a good deal of blood,” the impassive man informed her, gesturing for a stretcher. This one would not be walking out.
T’Pol forced herself to lie still. She couldn’t ask questions if she passed out again. She had to know what was happening with Trip. She hadn’t been able to catch a glimpse of him during her fleeting, horrific period of uprighted-ness.
T’Pol swallowed and forced her stiff, thick jaw to follow her commands. Trying to formulate a question in Vulcan, her fogged brain became confused. Finally she grated out, in English, “There was a human man. The kitchen.”
The paramedic efficiently slid her slackly yielding body onto the flat, thin backboard someone had handed him and began securing her with straps. “Yes. He is alive but unconscious. He was mostly shielded from the explosion. His left lower leg is badly burned. That is all.”
“You must listen to me,” T’Pol said. She dragged a non-functioning arm to attention and flopped her hand to grip onto the man’s wrist with surprising precision. He stopped in his work and looked at his patient in surprise.
“It is the tel-tor ek’rasahkos. The Vulcan man attacked us. They must not be separated, or they will die.” Her eyes burned at him as her dry voice failed. “Phlox. Enterprise.”
The medic stared at her, shocked, aware she was telling the truth through the jagged thoughts colliding against his own. The young man had never yet experienced the kashkau esta, and the strange thoughts she was imparting ferociously into his untried mind were straight from the frightening things adults told children to make them obey.
“Ek’rasahkos…?” he echoed faintly, looking into the woman’s desperate face. Her consciousness was melting before his very gaze, and suddenly sleep reached a critical mass within her psyche, and her eyes rolled back.
And for hours, she drifted unseeingly within a fearless inky darkness.
* * *
Another form drifted, literally, in the darkness of space; though its immediate surroundings were far from inky.
The massive planet illuminated a free body with cerulean skin and limp antennae. Open, staring eyes bugged bluishly from their sockets in the perfect vacuum. They flinched not, as the drifting form they were attached to received a sudden thwack from the nearby rebel ship’s non-functioning nacelle. The figure spun slowly in space.
All quietly orbited the sphere below.
Have a comment to make about this story? Do so in the Trip Fan Fiction forum at the HoTBBS!
A whole mess of folks have made comments
Now, I will go read it and comment on the story once I have finished.
Whoa. Now THAT was a helluva chapter: T'Pol descended from Rommies (not sure what I think about that although it WAS a surprise), Trip kicking Koss' ass using raw emotion, dead Suliban, and a deepening mystery...
This fic just seems to be getting better and better. Please tell me that you'll update soon.
Damn! Now that was a good story, please keep it going, cant't wait for the rest.
OK. Now I have read it.
It is getting better all the time. Beautiful. Just beautiful. I thought I knew where you were going with this, but I was wrong. I was so wonderfully wrong. I love being wrong. Keep going. Keep GOING!
My fingers are falling off! :-D
Enterprisescribe your story is like being on a rollercoaster ride with all the twists and turns your story keeps taking .Poor T'Pol I hate to think what Koss was going to her.Poor Trip I hope you'll post another chapter soon please to find out what happens next. Your cliff hanger chapters keep me checking back to see if you posted the next part. Thank you for a an extremely well written character piece with mystery, intrigue and Trip and T'Pol's relationship and dealing with being bonded.I like that Archer and the reast of the crew are part of the Story.
Whooooooooooa. Good fanfic. ;)
Whoa!!! What a cliff! And what a great chapter!!!
Please write soon. Or I will be the one needing Phlox's attention after falling off from the edge of my seat.
Thanks! I'm editing Chap 13 now. Ooooooooohhhhh it's gettin' there.
You know you're in trouble when you've got ten pages of notes (of stuff still to happen) after your last written line and you can't get that number to go down no matter how many chaps you finish. There should be less pages of notes as I approach the end, yes? One would think.
I think this story will have 15 chaps and an epilogue, but we'll see what happens.
and as for T'Pol's distant Rommie relations (I think I said grandfather's great-grandfather or something?) I figured that they were all interrelated anyway with the Romulans ages and ages ago, so it wouldn't be *impossible* for there to be a Rommie grampa in there, like, 5 generations ago. Probably something like 250-300 years ago, if generations are about 50 years long. I know T'Pol's 66, but she's a career woman who may 'forget' to have children, as some human career-women do, until they are older.
I wanted the disruptor for cooking the Suliban. =)
Wait a minute here! You told me you were a veggie-head that touched nothing but pan fried tofu! Are the Suliban sapient plants or something?
I *said* his face was like rice pilaf. What do you want? So I view them as a more vegetable-type race. Probably taste like Brussel sprouts. I wouldn't eat 'em though. Too genetically engineered for my taste. I go for the organics.
And also, it's like Hobbes once said to an owl-Calvin (re eating mice), their little feet are probably real cold going down.
Oh this is SO good...More please...and SOON! :)
You know I love it. What you don't know is that I found your easter egg:
"Trip watched this performance in some interest before stepping aside and sticking his hand back into the steady pink ribbon of energy. He glanced contemptuously as Koss. “Feels warm,” he commented. “Kind of nice.”"
Great Vulcan words, btw.
My fave line: “I may be goin’ down…” Trip grunted into Koss’ pointed ear, “but damned if I’m not draggin’ you with me, grandpa.”
Ain't that 'granpa' crack jist bee-00-tiful?
:D Thanks guys.
Koss *is* a senior gent after all, to our our shortlived eyes. So's T'Pol of course, but she makes up for it with certain other redeeming features.
Bucky has ch 13 in her hot little hands now, so stay tuned.
Come on Monday! Cone on Monday!
I know!!! (it's a sickness)