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To Boldly Go Once Again-Ch 10
To Boldly Go Once Again
Disclaimer: see chapter 1
Down on D deck, Archer met up with Reed. Noting the two unconscious and bound Suliban up against a bulkhead, he asked, “Where is he?”
Malcolm nodded towards the junction twenty feet away. Archer looked but saw nothing. One of the MACOs passed him a set of heat-sensing goggles, the newest incarnation of the archaic infrared models. Donning them, the commodore spotted the two conscious aliens crouched low, ready to spring when a chance presented itself.
“You can cut the chameleon act.” Archer said to them. The aliens did not comply.
“You are a fool, Archer.” The words came from the one on the left. “We would have let you go.”
“If you don’t make yourselves visible, I’ll have you stunned like the others.”
Slowly the Suliban regained their normal coloring. It was clear now that Silik’s companion was female. The MACO’s advanced on them and together the group proceeded towards the brig. Each of the four aliens was placed in a cell. When all was secure, Archer and Reed went back up to the bridge. There they joined Trip and T’Pol in the situation room.
Trip was filthy, grime covering his face and jumpsuit.
“Engine status?” Reed asked. Archer looked at him, surprised that his subordinate had asked the question first. Seeming to read his thoughts, Reed gave his commanding officer a look of apology as Tucker answered the question.
“Minimal damage, thanks to the changes T’Pol’s team made.” Tucker shot a brief smile in her direction. “Repairs are already underway.”
Archer turned to the woman at Tucker’s side. “It worked.” He said, smiling at her. T’Pol did not bask in the glow of victory that the humans were presently enjoying.
“It’s only going to get more difficult.” She told them, arms crossed tightly across her ribs. “Scanners show a planet about two hours away. I am supposing that is where Silik was taking us. We’ve also detected a number of ships in its orbit.
“What kind?” Trip wanted to know. “Is Columbia one of them?”
“We’re still too far away to tell.”
“If you’ve detected them, they must have detected us as well.” Reed said grimly.
“Not necessarily.” T’Pol replied. “As far as we can tell, none of the ships have broken orbit. If they have us on their sensors, they obviously didn’t care enough to send aid to the Suliban.”
“So what do we do now?” Trip asked.
Archer exchanged a look with the Vulcan. “We need to find out what’s happening on that planet.”
The meeting now adjourned, the commodore and his first officer went down to the brig to interrogate their visitors.
“How do you want to play this?”
She looked at him in confusion as they turned a corner. “What do you mean?”
“Do you have another plan, or are we going to play bad-cop-good-cop?”
The Vulcan woman gave an arch look to her human companion. “I’d assumed we would do it the way we always did.” She answered, both brows now raised. It gave her that quizzical, half-teasing look that Jon had gotten so fond of in past years.
“All right, so you’ll go first?”
“I assume you didn’t come here to stare at me.” Said Silik.
“We need information about the planet you were taking us to.”
The Suliban sneered and said nothing.
“We have ways of encouraging you to cooperate.” T’Pol said to him.
From outside the cell, Archer observed with mild interest. But then as Silik was speaking, he saw T’Pol’s body tense. Silik’s mouth kept moving, and the commodore saw the Vulcan become even more tightly coiled.
Unfortunately for Silik, he had picked the wrong things to say.
He’d hardly gotten the final syllables out before he was thrown up against the wall, T’Pol’s small hands enclosing his throat in a vice-like grip. He coughed as she squeezed tighter, forcing the air out of his lungs. He began to struggle, too shocked to use his body-altering genetic enhancements. T’Pol put her face very close to his and hissed something into his ear. She squeezed harder, and just as he was about to pass out she released him. He sank back onto the bench, sputtering and wheezing as he glowered at her. But Archer saw there was a measure of fear-induced respect in that glower, and he said nothing as T’Pol came out of the cell. They walked in silence down the corridors to the lift, and it was only when he realized she was going to her quarters that he spoke to her.
“What did he say?”
“Are you all right?”
“But you weren’t, in there.”
“I momentarily lost control. It won’t happen again.”
“T’Pol,” he took her arm gently, and he felt the tense muscle beneath her sleeve. It took a moment before she would meet his eyes.
“Don’t let him get to you.” The way he said it was not unkind.
“I’ve been dealing with this for several years now, Commodore. I can handle myself.” She said softly. He held her arm for a bit longer, trying to reach that deep nerve that was sometimes to so hard to find in Vulcans.
“You can come to me, you know. Anytime you need to.”
She nodded. He continued, “When this is over, we’ll see what we can do about getting you some help,” she looked ready to protest but Archer would brook none of it. “Right now, I need you calm and collected, okay?”
Once again she nodded, but as Archer turned to leave he thought he heard her say, “I will do this by myself.”
Archer briefly looked back at her before continuing on. Stubborn to the last, he thought to himself.
It seemed that T’Pol’s little display worked. An hour later, Silik needed only a little more physical persuasion to talk.
“It was a Tholian outpost until recently.” He spat the words out.
“Two weeks ago.”
Archer and his first officer glanced at each other. That was several days after Columbia had gone missing.
“What were they using it for?” T’Pol asked.
“The Tholians are always in need of parts. They attack all the vessels they can find and bring them to outposts such as this, where they strip them.”
“And the crews of those ships?”
“Put in a network of camps on the surface. Sometimes they are ransomed.”
“And now that your people are in control?” Archer growled.
Silik’s mouth curled into a tiny mean smile. “We have no use for prisoners. They will die on that miserable rock after we take what we can from the ships.”
Archer advanced on him, stopping centimeters away as T’Pol looked on, ready to defend her commodore should the need arise.
“For your sake, there had better be eighty-some humans on that miserable rock.” He told the Suliban, his voice quiet and shaking with anger. He stepped back and swept past T’Pol, who gave the Suliban a final stare before following. Two of them left the captive in relative peace.
“I’ll start working on a new course of action.” T’Pol said as they traversed the corridor. She turned toward the junction that led to engineering. While still angry, Archer couldn’t help but smile to himself as he continued on to the bridge. T’Pol, however, had noticed his smile and guessed what had provoked it. For the thousandth time she wondered if the commodore had known about the unique relationship she had shared with Captain Tucker. Even now as she approached the warp reactor and scanned the area for his figure, she couldn’t deny that the captain still had a particular hold on her.
T’Pol looked up to see Trip already rushing down a steep metal staircase towards her. His eagerness touched and calmed her, a reaction that by now had become exclusively linked to him. Trip was fast approaching, so T’Pol quelled her feelings as best she could. But apparently her will wasn’t strong enough, since she could see him read her face with concern written all over his own.
“T’Pol?” As he asked, a hand came out to touch her arm, ready to provide support at the most minute of signals. T’Pol swallowed hard and made herself step aside. Trip seemed to get the message, leading the way to his office while keeping a respectable distance between them. Once inside and seated, Trip launched right into business.
“So what did he say?”
T’Pol related the encounter in full, which Trip listen to with an intense stare. In fact, T’Pol thought, too intense. When she finished, he blinked and sat back a fraction of a second too late, and she knew at best he’d only heard half of what she had said. As a first officer, she knew she should give him some kind of reprimand—a lecture, at least, on the importance of staying focused—but all such thoughts gave way to the realization that she was the reason he wasn’t focusing.
An ancient alarm-- the one she loathed for all the moments it had spoiled yet needed as part of her identity-- sounded, and her body over-rode her mind, just as she had trained it to do at this particular alarm. Before she knew it, T’Pol was standing, then heading out the door as words of excuse tumbled from her mouth. But no amount of self-will or innate discipline could prevent her from looking over her shoulder. In that brief glance she could see the turmoil that rocked steadily inside her was mirrored on his own dear face. And that resurrected an intense fear, the one that had accompanied the knowledge that she . . . loved him. It was hard enough to acknowledge the emotion, let alone call it by its human name. And she knew, despite all their efforts and the passage of time, that he loved her back.
Now within her cabin, T’Pol did not try to calm herself with mediation. Why should I? She rebelliously demanded of her heritage. Five years of it didn’t help, so why should it now? Instead, she adopted Jonathon’s habit of pacing. She circled the room as chaotic thoughts swirled in her head. T’Pol lost track of time as she retreated inside herself and allowed her consciousness to be submerged in the darkness of her doubts. She was acquiescing to the inevitable, whether she liked it or not.
She had not conquered her feelings for Trip, and it was unlikely that she ever would. For the first time in a very long time, she began to wonder why she should overcome them. The Vulcan recognized this as a path leading to much speculation and concentration, both of which would require time that she did not have at the present moment. With more energy than she would have liked to expend, she pushed the emotions just far enough to take her focus off them, she settled down to the task of creating a new plan.
Several hours later, alternating between worrying about T’Pol and kicking himself for worrying about T’Pol, Trip received a document on his office monitor. Addressed to all the senior officers, it contained the outline of T’Pol’s newest plan. Coloring in embarrassment from the memory of being so distracted by her as to miss half of what she had said, he reviewed her ideas. And then he shook his head, wondering how she had gotten so damn creative and bold. Though he couldn’t really say he disliked such qualities in T’Pol. Checking the time, he left for the bridge and the briefing that was waiting.
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A whole mess of folks have made comments
I'm first! Great update. Good turmoil internally for trip and T'Pol. Looking foward to the next chapter.
feels like i've been waiting forever for this. thanks! this is great!
Oh, oh, oh, please tell me TnT are gonna have a little heart to heart discussion in the next installment! The suspense is killing me!
Whoa. I'd forgotten about this. Glad to see its back; now I've got to go back and read it from the beginning.
Glad, you're writing again. I liked your story when I read it a while ago. Keep writing, please
Interesting! I too need to refresh myself on this story more. Glad that you're keeping up with it.
so good! But I had to re-read the whole series before I could remember the storyline. Please don't make us wait so long for the next chapter, this is too good.
i was beginning to give up on this story being updated. thanks for the new installment. i've enjoyed reading it.
keep it coming
I'd also forgotten this one! Glad to see more! :)