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The Cultural Addition - Part 3
The Cultural Addition
By Joycelyn Solo
Part 3 (Chapters 25-32)
Chapter Twenty-Five - Are we there yet?
Despite their destination and the potential outcome of their mission, the journey further into the Expanse afforded a lot of unexpected downtime for the Enterprise crew -- and everyone was taking advantage of this opportunity in their own way.
Malcolm Reed, as expected, spent most of his time either in the Armory ensuring the readiness of the ship’s weapons or, not so expected, overseeing the unofficial tournament that had developed in the gymnasium. Initially, target practice and hand-to-hand combat had seemed like a good idea when Major Hayes suggested it; a chance for the two security details to learn from one another. Somewhere along the line, a -- not so, at times -- friendly competition developed with the Enterprise security officers leading by two on the phase rifles and the MACOs one match ahead in sparring. And, surprisingly, the “home team’s” key player was turning out to be none other than Travis Mayweather. Though the ensign claimed he would never trade his career as a pilot for anything, he’d grown up with three older -- and much larger -- brothers and learned a few tricks of survival along the way.
When he wasn’t doting on his pregnant wife or the warp engines, Trip Tucker was determined to master the Vulcan language before the birth of his children. Though the commander was an apt pupil, Hoshi Sato wasn’t sure how far an extensive knowledge of nursery rhymes would get the commander on Vulcan -- no matter how well he’d managed to translate “The Little Engine That Could” into the demanding dialect.
While her husband was busy conquering the language of her people, T’Pol was immersed in her own cultural exchange. At Phlox’s suggestion, the sub-commander had accessed copies of various child-rearing documents -- written by both Human and Denobulan experts. So far, she found the theories of Baby and Child Care by Dr. Benjamin Spock to be the most informative.
Surprisingly -- to himself as much as anyone else -- Jonathan Archer was spending a lot of off-duty hours in Botany. He’d never had much use for plants before, but Rajiin was fascinated by the various species and their ability to coexist in the artificial environment. Rajiin was also convinced that Archer needed to relax when he wasn’t on the Bridge and insisted that the plants would have a calming effect on him. The captain was pretty sure his ability to unwind had very little to do with the foliage and more to do with the presence of Rajiin. No matter how hard he attempted to deny it, Archer couldn’t ignore the calming affect the mysterious woman had on him -- and he hadn’t decided if that was a good thing or not.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Leaning into the comfort of the Bridge command chair, T’Pol resisted the urge to sigh with content and made a mental note to thank her husband when they both returned to their quarters that evening. Though she had not mentioned the affects of sitting in the center seat for an entire duty shift, Trip had apparently sensed her discomfort and installed additional support on her behalf.
This was not Trip’s first attempt to subtly make her pregnant life easier. Perhaps because her Human mate understood Vulcans -- T’Pol, in particular -- better than she would have ever give him credit for, he implemented his changes before even asking T’Pol if it was an issue. Had he asked T’Pol’s preference beforehand, she would no doubt have denied her discomfort and would not be able to enjoy the sight of her husband wearing as little as possible in their quarters since he had adjusted the temperature to that of a comfortable Vulcan evening.
Though she had grown accustomed to the, by her standards, cooler temperature of Enterprise, T’Pol could not deny the pleasure of stepping into their cabin, now.
“We’re approaching a cluster of anomalies, Sub-Commander.”
Ensign Mayweather’s announcement drew T’Pol’s attention to the viewscreen. Though she could not see the anomaly field with her own eyes, she felt as though she could sense their presence.
Or perhaps, because of her heightened emotions as a result of the pregnancy, she was more attuned to the heightened emotional state of the crew around her.
T’Pol turned to Lieutenant Gordon, the junior science officer. “Can we plot a course through the cluster?”
Gordon nodded, then caught herself and answered, “Yes, sir.” Gordon had never expected to be rotating shifts onto the Bridge and was still adjusting to the demands of answering directly to the senior officers. With her advancing pregnancy, Phlox -- no doubt at Trip’s insistence -- demanded that T’Pol reduce her duty shifts. As such, Barbara Gordon -- the most capable of the science corps by T’Pol’s estimation -- was being groomed to fill the position.
After Gordon transferred her analysis of the cluster to the conn, T’Pol ordered Travis to proceed. As he did so, she addressed the rest of the ship:
“Tactical alert. We are entering an anomaly field. All hands be prepared for the unexpected.”
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Hearing T’Pol’s warning about the anomaly field, Jonathan Archer wrestled with the idea of going to the Bridge.
“T’Pol is a perfectly capable commander, Jonathan,” Rajiin admonished, placing a hand on the captain’s arm.
Shifting uncomfortably on his stool in Botany, Archer regarded the alien woman at his side. “How did you --”
“I did not need to read your thoughts, Jonathan,” Rajiin answered, her brow furrowing at his accusation. “I don’t need to where your ship or crew are concerned.”
Any attempt Archer would have made to apologize was interrupted by the approach of Ensign Isley.
Her earlier displeasure disappeared as Rajiin regarded the botanist. “Pam is going to let me plume the Orcanian ivy.”
“It’s ‘prune,’ Rajiin,” Isley corrected on impulse, then blanched when she realized she’d just corrected the captain’s -- whatever Rajiin was -- in front of him. Though Isley had become familiar with Rajiin during the alien woman’s frequent visits to Botany, Isley obviously didn’t feel that same level of comfort with Captain Archer -- or any of the senior officers, really.
“Thank you, Pam.” Rajiin, ignoring the stricken look on the botanist’s face, smiled in appreciation. She then turned to Archer. “Apparently the ivy has been openly hostile toward Pam and the Botany crewmen. Since he hasn’t made any aggressive movements in my presence, we’re hoping I’ll be able to perform the much-needed pruning.”
Before Archer could ask about the reference of the ivy as a “he” and “his” hostility issues, the deck rocked violently beneath them.
As the captain, Rajiin and Isley each lost their balance amidst crashing planters, the ensign asked, “Did we hit an anomaly?”
“That’s no anomaly effect.” The ship shuddered again and Archer frowned gravely. “We’re under attack.”
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
“What have we got?” Archer asked, stepping onto the Bridge with Hoshi close behind. The ensign had been in the Mess Hall when the call for senior officers to the Bridge had sounded.
“Two Insectoid ships,” T’Pol reported, relinquishing the command seat and relieving Gordon at the science station. “They have effectively trapped us in the anomaly field.”
A blast rocked the ship, forcing Archer to lunge the last couple of feet toward the center chair. “Are we returning fire?”
Malcolm grabbed his console to remain study. “Phase cannons are off-line, sir, and even before that they didn’t seem to be having much effect.”
“What about torpedoes?”
“Both torpedo bays have taken damage,” T’Pol supplied.
“So we’re sitting ducks.” The captain gripped the arms of his chair. “Hull plating?”
“At eighty-percent,” Malcolm said, “and falling.”
“Travis.” The ensign turned to regard the captain, his hope spiking at the calculating look in Archer’s eye. “I want you to turn us around and head for the closest ship.”
At the young pilot’s nod, the captain turned to Malcolm. “Transfer all available power to the forward hull plating.”
“We’re going to ram them, sir?” Malcolm asked, disbelief evident in his voice.
“They’re going to think we are.” Archer smiled, the effect lost as a nearby explosion forced him to raise his arms protectively above his head. Recovering, he turned to T’Pol. “When we get close enough, I want you to grapple the Insectoid vessel.”
One eyebrow rose at the command, drawing Archer’s attention for the first time to the line of blood trickling down the side of the Vulcan’s face. Despite her injury, T’Pol moved to comply, her fingers moving over the console in compliance.
“Archer to Engineering.”
“Tucker here, Cap’n,” Trip answered loudly, no doubt shouting over the chaos that was likely happening around him.
“I wanted to warn you that we’re going to be a tugboat in a couple minutes, Trip. Can the engines take it?”
“Honestly, I don’t know how much more the engines can take, Cap’n, but we’ll give you all we’ve got.”
The captain cut the connection, his attention on the viewscreen as Travis completed turning the ship. As he did, the Xindi vessels -- three Insectoid and one Reptilian -- came into view.
“Go ahead, Travis. Full impulse.”
“Aye, sir,” Travis answered, punching the ship forward.
“How’s the hull plating?”
Malcolm, wincing with each hit as though it were a physical blow to his own body, reported, “Holding at seventy-percent.”
“T’Pol, are you ready?” Archer asked, looking at the Vulcan. Seeing the determination on her face, the captain simply nodded as he turned back to the viewscreen. “On my mark...now!”
Her aim true, T’Pol shot the grapple line toward the closest -- and, thankfully, smallest -- of the Xindi vessels. Latching onto the forward port, the line whipped the offending vessel around and dragged it behind Enterprise.
The other Xindi vessels, momentarily thrown by this turn of events, ceased firing with an eerie quiet.
Not giving the Xindi a chance to recover their resolve -- and cut through one of their own vessels to get to Enterprise, Archer ordered, “Set ’em loose, T’Pol. Travis, get us the hell out of here.”
“With plea --” Travis’ words died on his lips as two more vessels dropped out of warp directly in their path.
“Bloody hell?” Malcolm muttered as he took in the sight before him: an Andorian warship and a Vulcan cruiser.
After a moment, probably in which the two ships wondered why Enterprise had been towing an Insectoid craft in the middle of a skirmish, the new arrivals flanked the Earth vessel and opened fire.
Within moments, the Xindi vessels disappeared into a subspace conduit. As quickly as the attack had begun, it was over.
Chapter Twenty-Six - Any excuse for a shirtless Rostov
It wasn't long after Captain Archer left for the Bridge that Rajiin convinced Pam Isley they would be more useful assisting Phlox in Sickbay.
Personally, Pam figured she could be just as helpful hiding in a cabinet until the ship stopped shuddering around her, but she couldn't very well let Rajiin go alone.
That was how she found herself dressing the burns that covered most of Michael Rostov’s arm and chest. Having treated her own injuries over the past months under Phlox’s watchful eye, the doctor had thought Pam perfectly capable of handling the pseudo-triage in the corridor outside Sickbay. The engineer was actually her fourth patient, but he was the first who had to disrobe in order to be treated.
“I’m sorry we don’t have much in the way of privacy out here,” Pam said, noticing the looks that -- even with half of him charred and crispy -- Michael Rostov’s bare torso attracted. In an effort to draw his attention from the stinging salve and prying looks, she asked lamely, “Was engineering hit hard?”
“Not too bad,” Rostov answered bravely, though he winced as Pam applied a large quantity of salve to his shoulder. “Just enough to rupture the plasma conduit I was working on. Ah -- that smarts!”
“I’m sorry,” Pam apologized. “Usually, my biggest complaint with Phlox’s ointments is how badly they smell.”
“Yeah --” Rostov hissed through his teeth, “Not too many plants breathing fire on you, I guess.”
Pam smiled at that as she added more salve to the engineer. “I’m almost done.”
“Good. The engines may not have taken a beating, but Engineering’s still a mess. Commander Tucker’s going to need all the help he can get down there.”
“Don’t listen to him, Ensign,” came the unexpected comment of the Enterprise chief engineer as he approached Isley and Rostov. “Hess and her maintenance crew have everything in Engineering under control -- including the mess you made of that plasma conduit.”
Before Rostov could comment, the commander turned to Pam. “I heard T’Pol came down here.”
Pam nodded, her eyes dropping to the container of salve and away from the senior officer. “I think she’s with Dr. Phlox, sir. Actually, I don’t know if she’s with the doctor, I just know that she didn’t come back out here for treatment.”
Tucker nodded, gave Rostov a light punch on his good shoulder, and headed toward the Sickbay doors.
“He seems pretty calm,” Rostov observed after his commanding officer disappeared into Sickbay. “Compared to the last time T’Pol was in Sickbay, at least.”
Pam shrugged, preparing to apply more of the salve to the engineer’s burnt parts. “Maybe being married to a Vulcan is having a calming effect on the commander.”
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T’Pol turned her head at the sound of her husband’s voice, surprised she had not been aware of his presence sooner. Of course, when one took into consideration the bleeding gash on her forehead and the unexpected appearance of her father -- aboard an Andorian vessel, no less -- it wasn’t hard to believe that her thoughts would be otherwise occupied.
“You all right, Darlin’?” Trip asked, taking a seat next to her. “The twins?”
“We are well, Husband,” T’Pol answered, touching her fingers lightly to his. “How did you know I was in Sickbay?” Despite her own lack of focus, she had attempted very deliberately not to allow her own situation to distract her mate by shielding as much of her mind as possible.
“Hoshi mentioned it when she was giving us her damage report.” Trip sighed. “She also mentioned that your dad’s coming aboard.”
T’Pol, not wanting to think about the impending confrontation with her father, said, “The wound is superficial. However, the captain insisted I see Dr. Phlox.”
“And what’d Phlox say?”
“The doctor has yet had time for me. Several crewman were severely injured in the attack and have taken precedence.”
Trip took T’Pol’s hand in his and leaned his head back against the wall. “Engineering isn’t as bad off as it could be, considering the strain the anomaly field and tugging that Xindi ship put on the engines. Hess is coordinating repair efforts to other parts of the ship.”
T’Pol was silent for a moment, then tightened her grip a fraction on her husband’s hand. “When I saw Mr. Rostov, I was concerned for your well-being.”
Trip smiled, warmed by the sentiment. Like T’Pol, he had attempted to shield his own mind so as not to distract his wife from her duties on the Bridge. “Rostov was unlucky enough to be repairing a plasma conduit right before it blew. I saw Isley taking care of him out in the hallway. How’d she get drafted?”
“I believe she came in with Rajiin.” T’Pol inclined her head to the bed where the alien woman was using her bio-scanning abilities to examine an unconscious crewman. “Though I may not fully trust her, she seems intent on helping where she can.”
After following T’Pol’s gaze to Rajiin, Trip’s attention was drawn to the back wall of Sickbay. “I wonder if anyone’s checked on Spunky and the others.”
It took T’Pol a moment to recall that ‘Spunky’ was the hairless rodent her husband had taken a liking to. “I believe Ensign Isley did while she was gathering medical supplies.”
“That’s good. Being bounced around by anomalies and enemy fire is enough to rattle most people. I hate to imagine what it’s like inside their little cages.”
Before T’Pol could comment, Phlox came out from behind the curtain that separated the more critical patients from the rest of Sickbay. “I am ready to see you now, Sub-commander.”
T’Pol stood and Trip matched her movement. “You want me to come with you?”
T’Pol could sense that Trip wanted nothing more than to stay with her, to be certain his family was well, but both knew he had duties to attend to. “You should return to Engineering, Commander,” she said. I will be fine, Husband.
You better be. Trip turned to Phlox and offered him an encouraging smile. “You take good care of her, Doc.”
“Not to worry, Commander. I’ll let you know if there is anything to be concerned about.” Phlox led T’Pol toward another section of Sickbay that had been curtained off.
Turning, Trip was surprised to find the captain standing behind him.
“How’s T’Pol?” Archer asked, inclining his head to where the science officer and doctor had disappeared.
“She says she’s fine,” Trip answered. “I think Phlox just wants to examine her to be on the safe side.”
The captain nodded. “I’m sorry she got hurt at all, Trip. I should have ordered her off the Bridge.”
“No, you shouldn’t have, Cap’n.” Trip admonished. He knew his commander and friend was only saying what Trip wanted to hear -- and he appreciated it. “She wouldn’t have left even if you had.”
“No, she wouldn’t have,” Archer agreed. “She can be pretty stubborn sometimes. Even for a Vulcan.”
“It is you Humans who are the stubborn ones, Captain Archer.”
Turning, Trip and Archer were surprised to find Soval and a Vulcan woman standing behind them.
“Ambassador,” Archer greeted. “Welcome aboard.”
Soval ignored the captain’s attempt at pleasantries. “Where is my daughter?”
“Phlox is looking at her now,” Archer provided.
“Was her injury severe?”
Trip, determined not to be afraid of the imposing figure that was his father-in-law, said, “She got a nasty cut, but she says she’s fine. Your grandchildren seem to be okay, too.”
Both of Soval’s eyebrows shot-up in a very unVulcan reaction. “Children?”
“Twins, Soval,” Trip smiled proudly -- he couldn’t help it, even in the face of the Vulcan’s scowl. “A boy and a girl.”
“That is most unusual,” the female Vulcan behind Soval commented. “Multiple births are unheard of on Vulcan.”
“This birth is already looking to be pretty unusual -- for Humans and Vulcans,” Trip said. “By the way, you would be..?”
Soval turned to his companion. “This is the Surak’s healer, T’Vin. If Dr. Phlox would permit, I would like her to examine T’Pol. My daughter’s health is my prime concern, even though I may not agree with her choices.”
“And which choices would those be?”
Soval focused on the Enterprise engineer. “T’Pol was betrothed to a Vulcan of standing until your Human influence compelled her to break the engagement. Her actions aboard this vessel and her decision to remain a member of this crew has been an insult to the Vulcan culture.”
Trip countered, “I don’t know if T’Pol’s marrying a Human could be as much of an insult to Vulcan as you all abandoning Earth when we needed help the most.”
“It is not Vulcan’s responsibility to --”
“Perhaps, Ambassador,” Archer cut in, attempting to diffuse the situation. “We should continue this conversation elsewhere. T’Vin can stay here and talk with Dr. Phlox and T’Pol. Trip, I think you should return to Engineering and keep an eye on the repair crews. I want to get underway as soon as possible -- especially now that it looks like we’ve got some reinforcements.”
Chapter Twenty-Seven - Logic is as logic does
After the Denobulan doctor finished his examination and tended the sub-commander’s wound, he left the two Vulcans alone so that he could check on his other patients.
T’Vin, curious after reviewing Phlox’s notes and T’Pol’s medical history, commented, “It is difficult to believe the Ceidé scientists successfully created a Vulcan-Human hybrid in a matter of days.”
T’Pol, still seated on the biobed, regarded the healer. “Dr. Phlox believes the biological integration of our two cultures is only a matter of time. However, even if Vulcans and Humans were to attempt such an endeavor, it is doubtful that any true progress would be made for several years. According to Rajiin, the Ceidé are a scientifically advanced race. Genetic manipulation could be well within their realm of expertise.”
“They used this expertise to provide a defense against the bio-weapon the Xindi developed.” T’Vin examined the second PADD Phlox had provided, reviewing the doctor’s and Rajiin’s notes for the cure they had developed. “It is curious that they chose this approach to offering assistance.”
“‘Curious’ is one way to describe it.” T’Pol shifted, placing her hand atop her protruding stomach.
“You have formed a connection to the hybrids,” T’Vin observed. “And to Commander Tucker.”
T’Pol’s face tightened, then smoothed when she realized that it was only a matter of time before T’Vin would notice the bond. Vulcan healers were sensitive telepaths; their skills used to treat the mind and body of their patients. Though T’Vin had sensed T’Pol’s true relationship to Trip, it was unlikely Soval had noticed it.
For all her father’s intelligence, his telepathic ability was almost nonexistent. It was this lack of gift that made him a perfect candidate for brokering relationships with new species that did not employ proper shielding to their thoughts.
T’Pol, though not nearly as adept as a healer or even as sensitive as her own mother, had developed her own shields so that she, too, could be a part of first contact.
Little had she known that her efforts to shield her mind from Humans and other beings would be no match against her feelings for one particular alien.
“Commander Tucker is my bondmate,” T’Pol finally answered.
One dark eyebrow arched over the healer’s eye. “Though I have worked with Humans for a number of years, I had not realized they had the ability to form a bond.”
“Commander Tucker seemed as surprised as I,” T’Pol admitted, relaxing at T’Vin’s far-from-judgmental attitude. “He first noticed a sensitivity to what the twins were feeling, and then my own feelings. Perhaps his ability to form a connection was another side effect of the Ceidé experiment.”
“Or perhaps it was a result of your feelings for him.” At T’Pol’s widened eyes, T’Vin said, “Please remember, T’Pol, that healers are more in tune with their own feelings than most Vulcans. I can understand your caring for the commander. He is, after all, the father of your children.”
“I do not believe that is the only reason I care for him.”
“Nor do I. However, the ambassador is not likely to be as understanding. He is already concerned for you and he sees this situation as another indication that he should be.”
“My father has spoken of this concern to you?” T’Pol asked, clearly surprised.
T’Vin, in a somewhat Human manner, lowered her eyes as she confessed, “Soval did not seem to realize how loudly he was broadcasting his thoughts. Sometimes it is difficult for me to ignore them even with my own barriers raised.”
T’Pol, who for all her life could not remember one instance when her father had been without the utmost mental and emotional control, found that hard to believe. Of course, it was hard to believe her father would have commandeered a Vulcan vessel and approached the Andorians for assistance in order to aid a Human ship on a doomed mission.
Perhaps she had underestimated her father.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Perhaps I have underestimated my daughter, Soval thought as he followed Lieutenant Reed toward T’Pol’s quarters.
When he had first seen her condition as she flaunted both her pregnancy and her relationship with the Human engineer on the Enterprise bridge, Soval had fully believed that he had failed as a father and T’Pol had found the ultimate form of rebellion.
However, after listening to Captain Archer’s explanation of the bizarre circumstances of his daughter’s pregnancy, the Ambassador could not help the relief that flooded him. Though his daughter was in an unusual situation, she was not completely lost. The effects of a pregnancy on a woman -- especially one carrying half-Human genes -- was enough to tax even the most logical of Vulcans. No doubt, in an emotional state not dissimilar to the illogical bouts her own mother had experienced, T’Pol had turned to the Enterprise engineer for comfort and support.
Once T’Pol had some stability back in her life -- namely by taking her away from the irrational influence of the Humans -- they could contend with the future of her unborn children.
“These are T’Pol’s quarters, Ambassador,” Reed announced, stopping before the cabin door.
“Thank you, Lieutenant.” Considering the security officer dismissed, Soval paid little attention to the man as he pressed the button to announce his presence.
After only a moment, the doors parted -- but it was not T’Pol who answered.
“Hey, Soval,” Commander Tucker drawled, adjusting the collar of his uniform as he regarded the ambassador. “I guess you were looking for T’Pol.”
“Yes,” Soval said, eyeing the still-present Reed. “I was informed that these were her quarters.”
“Oh, they’re her quarters, all right. Actually, they’re our quarters.”
If the Human’s intention had been to upset Soval, he quickly achieved his goal.
“You share quarters with my daughter?”
“Ever since the wedding.”
The commander’s face faltered for a moment, confusion marring his brow. “The Cap’n didn’t mention that part?”
“No. Captain Archer failed to mention your wedding. It matters little since he does not have the authority to bind my daughter to you.”
“To tell you the truth, Soval, Cap’n Archer didn’t bind your daughter to me. She did that all herself. T’Pol’s a grown woman. She can -- and has -- made her own choices.”
“This wasn't her choice. This was an experiment by a race that should have known better than to meddle in matters that are not their concern. It is an emotional instability caused by your Human hormones that are clouding my daughter’s judgment.”
“My judgment is far from clouded, Father” T’Pol stated, drawing both men’s attention as she approached down the corridor. “And I would prefer if you did not refer to my children as an ‘experiment.’”
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
“This is certainly an interesting turn of events, Captain.”
“Y’know, Shran, I thought it was Vulcans who had the gift for understatement.”
The Andorian commander smiled, reaching for the bottle of ale he’d brought aboard. As he topped off the Human’s drink, he said, “It is still difficult to believe that this mysterious race of scientists would have kidnapped your two senior officers in such a roundabout way of helping you.”
“I’ve had a couple of months to wrestle with the idea and I still find it difficult to believe,” Archer admitted.
After a moment, as both commanders enjoyed their drink, Shran commented, “It is interesting. If T’Pol were going to end up with any of you pink skins, I would have assumed it would be you.”
Archer smiled, the look less than comfortable. “T’Pol’s not really my type.”
“Yes,” Shran agreed, smiling at Archer’s discomfort. “Rajiin seems more like a woman after your hearts...I mean heart. I forgot that not all species are fortunate to have two.”
“Rajiin has been very helpful since coming aboard, trying to atone for her past mistakes. Her motives, at least, I can understand.” The Human captain leveled his gaze at his Andorian counterpart. “Why, exactly, are you here, Shran?”
“I am here at the request of Ambassador Soval, of course.”
The Andorian’s sentiment was as sincere as Archer’s uniform was orange and the captain told him so. “I would think Soval asking you for help would be a reason for you not to enter the Expanse.”
Shran set his glass aside, leaning slightly forward over the table. “In truth, Captain, I am here because I still owe you a debt and I consider this payment. The fact that Soval will be the one in my debt when this is over is merely a bonus.”
Though his reasons weren’t as altruistic as Archer would have liked, he couldn’t deny that the presence of the Andorians and the Vulcans -- two species not usually in accord -- gave him a measure of hope for the mission’s success.
“With my crew’s help,” Shran continued, “Repairs to your vessel should be completed within two days. However, even then, it will be a week’s journey to the Xindi Prime coordinates. Perhaps you would like to accompany me aboard the Kumari.”
“As generous as that offer is, my crew’s invested too much into this mission for me to leave them and Enterprise behind.”
“Very well. We will complete the repairs and travel together. If these Xindi want to fight the Humans, they’ll have to get through us first.”
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
If not for the disappointment his wife was feeling, Trip would have taken a small measure of satisfaction at Soval’s barely contained frustration.
“Your actions are illogical,” the ambassador said for, if Trip was counting right, the seventh time since joining him and T’Pol in their quarters. Though Malcolm was no doubt curious about the father-daughter conversation about to take place, Trip wasn’t keen on the idea of continuing the family discussion in the corridor for all to witness.
Of course, Soval hadn’t been too keen on Trip’s continued presence as the ambassador attempted to convince his daughter to return to Vulcan with him aboard the Surak.
“I do not expect you to understand my actions any more now than you ever have, Father,” T’Pol said, her voice calm as she stared up at her father. While she had taken a seat on the bunk, Soval refused the chair Trip offered. Trip, for his part, was leaning against the far wall; his stance casual as he lent his wife silent support.
“If your actions had any semblance of logic to them, perhaps I could understand.” Soval paused, looking over at Trip when the engineer made a sound very similar to a muffled laugh. “Do you find this situation amusing, Commander?”
“My husband has been known to find humor in the most inopportune moments,” T’Pol explained, shooting Trip a look. Though her face was impassive for her father’s sake, Trip could tell she was also appreciating the humor. “According to his tally, that was your eighth reference to logic in this discussion.”
Soval, clearly not sharing the Tuckers’ amusement, turned his attention back to his daughter. “You would choose this Human to raise your children? He who cannot even observe a serious conversation without making a joke of it?”
T’Pol, though she didn’t like it, had an idea of where her father was leading the discussion. “And what would you suggest, Father? Do you believe Koss or another Vulcan suitor would accept half-Human children?”
“I am sure that, with the proper explanation, a suitable candidate could be found.”
“Now just a minute,” Trip said, pushing away from the wall and moving to stand beside the bunk. “T'Pol’s my wife. Maybe that doesn't mean much on Vulcan, but I'm sure as hell not going to stand here while you try to take my family away.”
Soval, in the most moderate of voices, said, “The sanctity of the marriage bond is honored with highest regard on Vulcan, Commander Tucker. However, what you and my daughter share is not a true bond.”
“Sure feels like one to me.” Trip looked down at his wife and laid his hand on her shoulder. “How else would I know that, despite her proper upbringing, T’Pol would like nothing more than for me to pop you one for even suggesting that a Vulcan could do a better job raising our kids than me?”
“I highly doubt my daughter has entertained such thoughts.”
“On the contrary, Father, my husband is quite right.”
“He is not your husband, T’Pol,” Soval stated firmly, his tone louder than any he’d used previously. “He, like yourself, is the victim of alien meddling. No matter what you may...feel...for him or he for you, it is only logical to assume that your entire relationship is based on the stressful result of the experiment.”
“I have already asked that you not refer to my children as an experiment.”
Soval looked at his daughter, his face hard. “Your emotional attachment to the hybrids is not logical or healthy, T’Pol. Nor is your attachment to this Human.”
Trip took a step toward his father-in-law, ignoring the ambassador’s intimidating presence as his patience reached an end. “The twins may have been an experiment at first, Soval, but we chose to keep them. Just as we chose each other. You may not agree with those choices and you may have very valid, very logical reasons not to, but this is my family and I’ll do whatever it takes to protect them.”
Soval’s face remained impassive as he regarded the engineer.
Continuing, Trip nodded his head toward the door. “Now, if you’d be so kind, my wife needs to rest. As you’ve noticed, she’s in a delicate condition and doesn’t need her father or anyone causing her undue stress.”
The ambassador did not move for several moments, his eyes going from Trip to T’Pol and back again. Finally, bowing his head slightly, he moved toward the door.
His hand poised over the controls, Soval turned once more toward Trip. “Your loyalty to my daughter is commendable, Commander. I leave her in your hands. For now.”
And, with that, Ambassador Soval left to return to the Surak.
Chapter Twenty-Eight - I’m not sick, but I’m not well
One week later, the Enterprise dropped out of warp on the outer edge of Xindi space with the Surak and the Kumari in flanking positions.
No one aboard either vessel was surprised by the Xindi fleet that welcomed them. Malcolm, paying close attention to potential hostilities, recognized Reptilian and Insectoid craft in addition to two other distinctive designs. He wondered, briefly, which of the five Xindi species was not represented in the small fleet that lay before them.
“Captain, we’re being hailed,” Hoshi announced, her hands moving deftly over the controls of her console.
That’s a change of pace, Malcolm thought. All previous encounters with the Xindi had involved them shooting at Enterprise without the pleasantry of conversation first.
At the captain’s nod, Hoshi patched the communication through. A furry-faced Xindi -- a Sloth, perhaps -- appeared on the main viewscreen.
“You have entered Xindi territory. Identify yourself.”
“I’m Captain Jonathan Archer of the Earth vessel Enterprise.”
Though the Xindi seemed to flinch a bit at the mention of “Earth,” he didn’t seem overly surprised by their presence.
“You are a long way from your home planet, Captain Jonathan Archer,” the Sloth finally said.
“The issues that bring us here are extremely important. We’ve traveled a long way for an audience before the Council.”
The Council -- as Rajiin had explained to the command crew -- was a governing body of representatives from each of the five Xindi species. All decisions concerning the collective race were made by them.
Malcolm wasn’t entirely sure the captain’s intentions to discuss things rationally with the Council was the best course of action, but, considering that -- even with their Andorian and Vulcan companions -- they were sorely outnumbered, he didn’t know what else they could do.
“Outsiders are rarely granted audience with the Council.”
“I’m hopeful that, this time, an exception can be made. This is a matter that concerns the future of both of us -- all of us.”
The Xindi seemed to consider this. “It will take time to confer with the Council. Do not move from your present position.”
Abruptly, the transmission ended.
“That went better than I thought,” the captain said softly, then turned his attention to T’Pol at the science station. “How long do you think it will take for a response?”
“It could be a manner of minutes or days, depending on the diplomatic tactics of the Xindi.” T’Pol paused, then continued, “Ambassador Soval may be of more help in providing an estimated time.”
Before Archer had a chance to consider this option, Hoshi announced, “The Xindi is hailing, again, sir.”
All eyes were on the viewscreen as the Sloth’s image reappeared. “You have been granted permission to speak your case to the Council. You and one other will board my vessel and be escorted to Xindi Prime. Your vessels will remain here.”
Though Malcolm could think of at least a dozen reasons why the captain shouldn’t agree with those terms, he knew it was likely the best opportunity they would have to appeal to the Xindi and stop the launch of the weapon.
With the slightest amount of hesitation, Captain Archer nodded. “That is acceptable.”
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
After a short, uneventful and less-than-sociable trip aboard the Xindi vessel, Archer and T’Pol were surprised to be transported into the heart of the Xindi Council Chamber.
The captain cast a glance at his first officer -- grateful for her presence. Though both Trip and Phlox hadn’t been pleased, there was no one Archer wanted by his side more than his second-in-command. He may not always agree with her, but with Earth’s fate in the balance, having T’Pol as an anchor of logic was probably a good idea.
As they faced the empty table where, no doubt, the Council presided, Archer could see that T’Pol was very subtly examining their surroundings with her tricorder. The two Insectoid guards who stood near the entrance did not seem to mind her use of the instrument -- either because they did not notice or did not think it posed a threat.
Shortly after T’Pol finished her scans and put the tricorder away, a series of Xindi transporter effects drew their attention to the Council table.
One by one, the five representatives of the Xindi materialized before them: Reptilian, Insectoid, Sloth, Primate and Aquatic -- the aquatic representative appearing in a large, liquid-filled tank for the species’ unique needs.
“Captain Archer,” the Reptilian representative addressed, “we understand that you have come before us with a matter of some import.”
“That is correct,” Archer answered, resisting the urge to take a step forward as he presented his case. “I believe there has been a misunderstanding -- a grave misunderstanding that has already cost the lives of seven million Humans and fourteen Vulcans. Not to mention the Xindi who piloted the probe and others killed during skirmishes in the last several months.
“This all began with the unexpected and unprovoked launch of a probe that destroyed a significant portion of Earth. By coming before you, I hope to resolve this misunderstanding and prevent any future hostilities that may erupt between our species.”
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
As the captain spoke, T’Pol was impressed by his -- thus far, at least -- logical progression of facts over accusations. Though she had opted to remain with the crew to offer her assistance in locating the Xindi, she often wondered what exactly the captain had in mind for resolving the conflict.
His current approach, that of a diplomat, was a pleasant surprise. Her Human companion was a far cry from the eager and irrational one she’d met more than three years before.
Of course, a lot could change in three years -- as the band she wore on her left ring finger reminded her.
From her place beside the captain, T’Pol continued to study their surroundings. The Council members were intent on listening to Archer’s case, the Primate and Sloth nodding occasionally in a way not dissimilar to Human. The Insectoid guards -- the two who had been in the chamber when she and the captain arrived, continued to stand vigil near the entrance. In addition, a Reptilian and Primate stood sentry on either end of the table -- they had beamed in with the representatives.
“There is a chance that, given the opportunity to talk, Xindi and Humans could even develop formal relations,” Archer continued. “I am sure there are many things we can learn from each other, opportunities that would be lost if we continue on this course to annihilate each other.”
With the captain’s speech concluded, the representatives spoke softly to each other; each casting glances at T’Pol and Archer on occasion.
“You bring up several interesting points, Captain Archer,” the Aquatic said, her -- though T’Pol couldn’t accurately determine a gender -- voice translated by a device attached to the holding tank. “You come before us, claiming that the probe killed seven million of your people with no provocation. However, we consider the loss of an entire Xindi species to be a significant cause for such a consequence.”
Loss of a species, T’Pol thought, seeing that the captain seemed to struggle with the same disbelief.
“I am afraid I do not understand, Representative.”
“One hundred years ago, the there was an Avian race of Xindi. One hundred years ago, a vessel from Earth witnessed -- and was responsible for -- their destruction.”
“That’s impossible!” Archer shouted, clearly surprised by the accusation.
The Primate stood at the captain’s outburst, providing one of his own. “Do you accuse this body of lying?”
Before the captain could respond, his intention to, no doubt, reclaim superiority of volume from the Primate representative, T’Pol stepped forward. “What Captain Archer is saying is that it is impossible for the Humans to have been involved in the demise of the Avians as Humans were not capable of travel this far into space until the last twenty years.”
The low and even tone of T’Pol’s explanation had a calming effect on everyone in the chamber -- save one. Too late, T’Pol saw the Reptilian step away from his post beside the representatives and launch something at them.
T’Pol attempted to shove the captain out of the way, just as the vial broke at their feet. T’Pol felt the air in her lungs constrict, as though its presence was no longer welcome in her body. The sensation lasted only a moment and she recovered in time to see the captain collapse beside her, his hands clutching his throat as he fought the same ailment that had plagued her.
She heard shouts above her; heard the sound of the Reptilian who’d attacked them subdued to the chamber floor. During this, however, her attention was on her captain -- her friend -- as he slipped into unconsciousness.
The Sloth representative approached, his voice hesitant. “Do you know what that was?”
“I believe it was the bio-weapon the Reptilians developed,” the Vulcan answered, her gaze going to the subdued guard. “Our doctor has been developing a defense against it. I request his presence to administer the second stage of the antidote.”
“At once,” the Sloth agreed, turning to his assistant and speaking quickly. He turned back to T’Pol and joined her as she knelt once more beside the unconscious Human. “Your doctor and vessel will arrive shortly.”
Some minutes later, Phlox materialized in the middle of the chamber with Shran, Soval, Lieutenant Reed and Trip. Without hesitation, the doctor and engineer moved toward T’Pol and Archer.
Even as the doctor readied the injection he’d prepared en route, he asked, “You were unaffected, Sub-Commander?”
“I believe carrying the twins has made me immune to the bio-weapon,” T’Pol answered as Trip took her into his embrace -- more for his comfort than for her own. Allowing her emotional Human to appease himself, she continued, “I felt a momentary reaction to the gas, but it has dissipated.”
“Let’s just hope this works as well for the captain,” Phlox said, monitoring Archer’s vitals and waiting for the injection to work with the first phase of the antidote he had administered to both the captain and T’Pol before they left Enterprise.
Almost immediately, Archer gasped loudly, pulling in much-needed oxygen.
“You’re all right now, Captain,” Phlox said, placing a hand on Archer’s shoulder to keep him in a reclined position. “The first phase of the antidote kept your cells from becoming fully depleted of oxygen while the bio-weapon worked its way through your system. Phase two should have you breathing normally in just a couple of minutes.”
The captain nodded, looking up to see Trip and T’Pol.
The engineer smiled. “We were more than ready when the Xindi gave us the call. I don’t think they finished telling us we were cleared before Malcolm ordered us to Warp 2.”
The captain looked over at Shran and Soval, who were talking with the Insectoid representative. At the questioning look in Archer’s eyes, Trip answered, “Soval and Shran insisted on coming aboard shortly after the two of you left. I guess they figured if there was going to be any action, Enterprise would be in the thick of it.”
“Gla...gla...” Archer wheezed, his lungs still recovering. “Glad they could make it.”
As the captain struggled to stand, Phlox and Trip bent to help him. Leaning heavily on his chief engineer, Archer looked pointedly at the Primate representative who had remained nearby.
“The Reptilians were told not to pursue the bio-weapon,” he said by way of an apology.
“In favor of the other weapon you’re developing to use against Earth?” Trip asked.
“The weapon was meant as a defense against your people. We know what the Humans have planned for us.”
“How could we have anything planned? We’d never even heard of the Xindi until your probe killed seven million innocent people.”
The Primate seemed offended by Trip’s outburst, and T’Pol placed a hand on her husband’s arm. “The Xindi are under the impression that it was Humans from Earth who were responsible for the loss of their sixth species, the Avians.”
“I don’t remember us ever coming across any Avians,” Trip denied.
“They say it was more than one hundred years ago, Trip,” the captain said, his voice and breathing back to normal. “And I’ve already told them that’s not possible.”
“How were the Avians..?” Phlox asked, allowing the question to trail off.
The Primate hesitated, his eyes going to the Reptilian representative as he questioned the guard. “It was a bio-weapon of some kind. It targeted only the Avians, forcing them to waste away before our very eyes.”
“It was their death that brought the remaining five species together,” the Aquatic offered, her voice coming from a communicator the Primate held that only those around him could hear. “We were embroiled in a civil war when the Avians became ill.”
“And you combined forces to find the ones responsible,” Archer guessed. “But why do you think Earth had anything to do with this?”
“We were told by a reliable source that we were not first, nor the last, that the Humans would exterminate from the galaxy. We were told of your xenophobia.”
“Who told you this?” Phlox asked. “You only have to look at me to know that Humans endeavor to form alliances with all races, not to wipe them out.”
Before the Primate or Aquatic could answer, the attention of everyone in the chamber was drawn to a shadowy figure in the corner. “I am afraid that Captain Archer is quite right, my friends.”
“Silik!” Archer hissed, making a halfhearted lunge at the meddling time traveler -- which was all he could in his weakened state. “Are you behind all this?”
“Am I responsible for this particular experiment? No. However, I convinced my superiors that it wouldn’t be long until you figured things out and shared them with our Xindi friends. In anticipation of that, I volunteered to handle things.”
“And how exactly are you going to handle them?” Trip asked, taking a protective step in front of T’Pol in case Silik decided his pregnant wife would make a nice bargaining chip.
“What experiment are you talking about?” the Reptilian representative asked, joining the crowd that had gathered around the unexpected visitor. “The Suliban have been friends of the Xindi for generations.”
Archer frowned. “As far as I know, the Suliban aren’t friends with anybody. Everyone is a pawn they can use in their attempts to mess with the timeline. It was a Suliban who told us that the Xindi were responsible for the attack on Earth, and I’m guessing they hinted that Humans had something to do with the forced extinction of the Avians.” Archer turned his attention to Silik. “You know what I think? I think that sometime in the future, the Xindi and Humans form an alliance and make life very difficult for the Suliban. So, what do you do? You come back to the past, pretend to be helpful and convince us to point our most threatening weapons at each other so that we’re too busy trying to annihilate ourselves to bother with you.”
“Well, Captain,” Silik said, “You’re not wrong.”
“But, there was evidence,” the Sloth protested. “We would not have launched an attack on Earth without proof.”
“’Evidence’ doctored by the Suliban, I bet,” Archer practically growled at Silik. “To start a war that didn’t need to be fought.”
Silik stared at Archer, then at the Xindi Council members. Finally, his eyes rested on Trip. “What of you, Commander Tucker?” Silik asked, his tone low in an attempt at sympathy. “No matter what prompted them, the Xindi were responsible for the death of your sister. Shouldn’t they be forced to pay for that?”
Trip’s eyes narrowed. “Seven million people were killed in that attack, Silik -- an attack initiated because of a lie you told the Xindi. If someone should be made to pay, I would think it should be you and the rest of you meddling time travelers.”
“That is what I thought.” Silik turned back to Archer. “Though this experiment failed, events have been set in motion, Captain, and the game is far from over.”
With that cryptic -- and irritating -- message, the Suliban was surrounded by transporter effect and disappeared.
“Guard!” the Insectoid demanded, “Track the Suliban’s ship.”
Archer hung his head, knowing full-well that any attempts to track Silik would be useless.
The captain looked up, seeing that the Reptilian representative was addressing him.
“Perhaps it is time we discussed this alliance the Suliban seemed so worried about.”
Chapter Twenty-Nine - Home is where the liver is
After a week of discussions, in which Archer, Soval, Shran and representatives from all five Xindi species participated, it was time for the Earth, Vulcan and Andorian vessels to return home. And, as agreed, one Xindi vessel carrying delegates chosen by the Council would accompany them.
Standing in Engineering, Trip watched as his crew made a final check of Enterprise. Thanks to the Xindi engineers, the Enterprise, the Surak and the Kumari had been modified in order to traverse the subspace conduits their vessels used throughout the Expanse. Not only would the ships be able to avoid further complications from anomalies, but the return trip to more familiar space would be only forty hours instead of as many days.
After Hess handed him her final checklist, Trip moved to the nearest communicator. “Tucker to the Bridge.”
“Go ahead, Trip.”
“We’re ready to go whenever the Vulcans and Andorians are, Cap’n.”
“That’s good to hear, Trip. I think we’re all ready to go home.”
Home, Trip thought, cutting the connection. He wasn’t quite sure where that was going to be yet. For most everyone aboard, that meant Earth. For Trip...
Soval had attempted once again to get T’Pol to go to Vulcan with him aboard the Surak. T’Pol had, once again, declined.
However, after discussing it with his wife, Trip wasn’t sure it was an entirely bad idea.
“Human medicine has come a long way, T’Pol, but I don’t know if any doctor on Earth is going to have a clue what to do when the twins are ready to come out. Maybe going to Vulcan’s not such a bad plan, at least for a little while.”
Seated at the Mess Hall table, picking at the large breakfast her husband continued to insist that she eat, T’Pol allowed one eyebrow to rise ever-so-slightly.
“I mean, they do have air conditioning on Vulcan, right? What with all the Human visitors they get.”
“Vulcan does not entertain that many Human visitors, Husband.”
“Well, we can probably stay at the Earth Embassy, then. I’m sure they’ve got something suitable for us less rugged beings. Considering our success in the Expanse, I’m sure Admiral Forrest can probably pull a few strings for us.”
Captain Archer, though disappointed to lose his engineer and science officer, was not surprised by their decision. The captain even made the arrangements for the couple, working with Admiral Forrest and Soval to secure accommodations for the Tuckers once they reached Vulcan.
Though Soval never broke Vulcan form around his son-in-law, Trip was pretty sure that beneath his Vulcan exterior the ambassador was practically ecstatic. Soval was most likely convinced that, once T’Pol was back on Vulcan and surrounded by her people, she would forget the Human influence and once again embrace the path of logic.
Trip doubted that very much. Even without ever saying it aloud, he knew that his wife loved him very much -- nearly as much as he loved her. Despite Soval’s insistence that the birth of the twins would “break the hold” Trip had over T’Pol, the engineer had no fear that, wherever he made his home, T’Pol would be there with him.
“All right, Hess.” Trip pulled himself back to the present and addressed the lieutenant. “You’re in charge. If you run into any problems, which I doubt, you can reach me over on the Surak until we set course for Vulcan.”
Hess nodded, accepting the PADD the commander handed to her. “I’m sure we’ll be fine, sir. I just can’t believe you’re going to miss the celebration on Earth.”
“I’ll have my own celebrating to do not long after we arrive on Vulcan,” Trip reminded her, grinning broadly with pride.
“You’ll send us pictures, right, sir?”
“I already have my camera packed.”
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Though the trip to Vulcan took a fraction of the time Enterprise spent in the Expanse, Trip doubted he could have taken another day aboard the Surak.
It wasn’t that the Vulcans had gone out of their way to be rude to the Human engineer and his wife, but they hadn’t done much -- even by Vulcan standards -- to make the two feel welcome.
With the exception of T’Vin, it seemed that none of the Vulcan crew had any desire to share company with the “tainted” T’Pol. Not only was she carrying half-Human children, but she had bound herself to a member of the irrational species. If her decision to stay aboard Enterprise or her actions at P’Jem hadn’t already made her a stigma among her own people, her marriage to Trip had certainly cemented her position.
Added to that, the exhaustion of the Xindi ordeal and the advanced stages of a difficult pregnancy were taking their toll on T’Pol. Sheer exhaustion strained her ability to control her emotions. Even her own father -- the one who had convinced her to board the Surak -- was uncomfortable in her presence and spent the entire journey in his own company.
When they had entered orbit around Vulcan and the airlock doors had moved to reveal the Starfleet ensign who would pilot the Tuckers down to Vulcan, it took a great deal of restraint for Trip not to hug the young man. He was sure such an action would have been embarrassing for both him and the pilot, but it might have been worth it just to see the looks on the faces of their Vulcan hosts.
T’Pol must have sensed his mirth as the ’pod left the Surak’s bay because she said, “I trust you will refrain from embracing the admiral’s attaché when he greets us at the Embassy.”
Trip smiled. “I’ll try my best, but if the suite Forrest got us is nearly as nice as the Cap’n says it is...”
Unable to help herself, T’Pol smiled at the image that formed in her mind. She wondered how receptive the secretarial officer would be to her husband’s affections. After that thought, however, she felt immediate shame for having it. A proper, logical Vulcan did not engage is such flights of fancy. A proper Vulcan could --
“Hey, now,” Trip said, wrapping an arm about T’Pol and drawing her close. With one hand, he wiped an errant tear from her cheek. She had not even realized that she had begun to cry -- and hated the betrayal of her emotions. Though she’d been relieved by the ambassador’s decision to use the transporter rather than share the shuttlepod, T’Pol couldn’t deny the disappointment she felt. Soval -- her own father -- couldn’t bring himself to be around her in this irrational state.
“You’ve been through a hell of a lot the last several months,” Trip said, his voice low and soothing as it cut into her troubled thoughts. “I don’t think anyone -- Human or Vulcan -- has a right to judge a couple of mood swings from a woman about to give birth.”
Unable to speak for fear of another bout of uncontrollable emotion, T’Pol merely nodded as she allowed herself comfort in her husband’s embrace.
As the ensign piloted the craft to the landing pad behind the Earth Embassy, T’Pol watched the familiar scenery come into view. In the past, the sight of Mount Seleya in the distance or Vulcan’s sister planet as it filled the sky would have been a welcome reminder that she was returning home.
Strangely, the familiarity of the scene only strengthened the void she felt. The sight of home should have been a comfort, but she realized that the only true sense of home she felt was wrapped up in the Human beside her.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Trip wasn’t sure what he had expected when they arrived at Vulcan’s Earth Embassy, but it was nothing compared to the reception that awaited them.
Almost immediately after their shuttlepod touched down, the landing platform was overrun with officers, diplomats and civilians.
Ensign Selina Kyle, on behalf of Admiral Gardner, explained that many of the Vulcan-stationed personnel wanted to have their own celebration. He knew it was nothing compared to the festivities that awaited the rest of the Enterprise crew on Earth, but having two heroes in residence had motivated an effort to honor them.
Trip, touched by the unexpected gesture, looked over at T’Pol. He was worried that a party would be too much for her, considering her current emotional and physical state. However, the exhausted woman he had comforted moments before on the shuttlepod had been replaced by the calm and collected woman he knew and loved -- even if she was having some difficulty keeping a small smile from her lips.
“A few of the romantics around here wanted to give you a bit of a wedding celebration as well, Commander,” Kyle continued. “We even managed to work in a surprise for you.”
“I’d say this is surprise enough,” Trip said to himself as Kyle walked away. Turning to his wife, he noticed that T’Pol’s attention was focused elsewhere. Following her gaze, Trip saw that Soval had joined the party already -- and was in the company of a Vulcan woman Trip had not seen before.
Actually, despite being sure he’d never met the woman, Trip felt as though he knew her. Staring hard, he hit the realization. “Hey, T’Pol, that isn’t --”
From a distance, Trip watched the exchange between T’Les and Soval, his in-laws. It was his understanding that the two hadn’t seen each other in more than a year, and their greeting didn’t even consist of the traditional finger-holding T’Pol allowed her Human husband. He wondered if there were problems between the couple or if, perhaps, all Vulcan marriages were as cold as theirs seemed.
He certainly hoped not. Trip couldn’t imagine spending a lifetime -- and for Vulcans it was a considerably longer lifetime -- with someone he didn’t love, let alone barely tolerated. Maybe it was merely the suppression of their emotions that made it seem loveless, but Trip found it hard to believe that someone as vibrant and passionate as T’Pol could have come from such a lifeless pair.
As they approached his in-laws, Trip felt T’Pol’s fingers as they brushed against his in a reassuring gesture. My mother has not always agreed with my father’s views.
Before Trip could send a question back at his wife, T’Les focused her attention on the two of them.
“It pleases me to see you well, Daughter.”
“And I, you, Mother.” Unbidden, the smile on T’Pol’s lips widened.
Soval, seeing the display, explained with disapproval in his voice, “The advancing stages of our daughter’s pregnancy has had an adverse effect on her emotional control.”
T’Les, however, did not seem to mind as she took her daughter’s hand in hers. “Our daughter is handling a difficult situation very well, Husband.” T’Les turned her attention to Trip. “With the support of her companion, no doubt.”
“Mother, this is Commander Charles Tucker. My husband.”
T’Les nodded slightly. “Soval informed me of your bonding.” Though Trip strained to hear it, there was no sense of Vulcan disapproval in T’Les’ voice. Maybe he’d only have to worry about one in-law gunning for him.
Too bad the one in-law was gunning for both him and T’Pol. “Perhaps, Commander, T’Pol should be escorted to your suite. I am sure she is in need of rest.”
If Trip could have believed that Soval had T’Pol’s welfare in mind, he would have been touched by the ambassador’s suggestion. However, since both he and T’Pol doubted her father’s intentions, neither was pleased with Soval’s attempt to hide her away while her current condition could have been an embarrassment to him.
“I have spent enough time resting on the Surak, Father,” T’Pol said, her gaze level with Soval’s. “A lot of effort has been put into this reception and one of the first rules diplomacy I learned from you was to avoid insulting my host.”
She’s got you there, Soval, Trip thought, using everything T’Pol had taught him to stop his own grin from spreading across his face.
“Very well,” the ambassador conceded. “I must report to the High Command.” He looked to T’Les. “Will you accompany me, Wife?”
“I will remain here, Husband, with our daughter and her mate.”
“Very well.” With a final look -- glare, really -- at Trip, Soval turned and left the party.
With all the celebrating going on, no one else seemed to notice his departure.
,u>Chapter Thirty - A desert holiday
In the moments before Vulcan’s sun would rise and bathe the land in a heat almost too intense for its inhabitants, two figures stood in silence atop a sand-covered hill.
No words were exchanged between the two, for none were needed. A bonded couple, their minds were linked in a way few outsiders would understand. Her thoughts were his, just as his thoughts were hers.
Together they stood, watching the first rays of sunlight stretch across the desert terrain with a red glow.
As the sun continued its ascent, the figures turned as one, their fingers extended toward one another as they strove to deepen the psychic connection they shared with one another. At first touch, both closed their eyes with the intensity of the other’s thoughts. It had been some time since they had been alone together like this; far too long as outside forces had kept them apart.
Though, as their bond strengthened with the physical contact of their fingers, they could not deny that their growing distance was not the fault of others alone.
T’Les slowly withdrew her hand from her husband’s. “You have been too hard on her, Soval.”
As he walked with his wife back to the groundcar they had driven from the city, Soval answered, “She should not have stayed aboard the Human vessel past the first mission or after the incident at P’Jem. It was my influence that allowed her to remain with the Human crew. It is the fault of my actions that our daughter is in her current condition.”
“You take undue blame onto yourself, Husband,” T’Les commented. “Where is the logic in this?”
“Where is the logic in our daughter’s bond with a Human officer?”
“Perhaps she feels for him what I feel for you, Soval. T’Pol cares deeply for Commander Tucker, and he for her. You must have known that with the increased interaction of Vulcan and Earth and other species that our cultures would eventually entwine themselves together though the actions of individuals.”
“There was always the possibility, Wife,” Soval admitted, pausing as they approached the groundcar. “I just did not expect our daughter to be the first, nor did I expect such interaction to happen so quickly.”
“T’Pol and Commander Tucker may be the first interspecies couple, Husband, but I doubt they will be the last.”
Opening the door of the groundcar, Soval was greeted by the incessant beeping of his communicator. The day was still quite young and he could not think of who would have attempted to contact him at such an early hour, especially when he had left instructions with his staff that he would be unavailable until later.
The logical conclusion was that the matter was one of urgency and, even as he accessed the message left for him, Soval could not help think of his daughter. Looking to his wife, he saw the worry she did not bother to hide. Despite their differing opinions about T’Pol’s union with the Human engineer, both were well aware of the physical danger their daughter was in. Though she was monitored constantly by the specialists at the Vulcan Science Academy and rarely without the company of Commander Tucker, there was always the chance that something could go horribly wrong with the pregnancy.
Listening to the message left for Soval, T’Les felt her legs buckle and only the quick action of her husband kept her from falling to the ground in shock over the news.
After assisting his wife into the groundcar, Soval quickly maneuvered the vehicle back toward the city and, without the caution usually recommended for driving through the hilly terrain, sped toward the city.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T’Pol woke to the sound of strange voices.
After a moment, she realized the voices were not all that strange, but the ringing in her ears made it difficult to accurately identify the speakers.
Opening her eyes, she felt a moment of panic at the darkness that clouded her vision before realizing that a bandage covered them.
Feeling her husband’s presence, she called out, “Trip?”
“I’m here, T’Pol.” She felt pressure on the bed and the reassuring touch of her mate’s hand on hers. “How do you feel?”
“Disoriented. What happened?”
“We’re still trying to figure that out,” he answered. “What do you remember?”
T’Pol frowned, the ringing in her ears a distraction as she attempted to piece together her last memories. “I was discussing Vulcan artwork with Ensign Kyle while you were meeting with Admiral Gardner.” She frowned, unable to recall anything further. “Trip, what has happened?”
“There was an explosion at the Embassy, T’Pol.” Trip’s voice was quiet, as he delivered the news. “You’ve been out for two days.”
“An accident?” T’Pol asked, unable to believe such an accident could occur.
“This was no accident, T’Pol,” Trip said, his grip on her hand increasing. “Someone planted a bomb in the second level garden.”
“A bomb,” she repeated, the concept even more unbelievable than an accident.
“More specifically, it was the deliberate detonation of Starfleet-issue concussive devices hidden inside one of the newly furnished garden statues,” a distinctively non-Vulcan voice provided.
“Hello, T’Pol. I’m glad to see you’re awake.”
“Not nearly as glad as I am,” added another voice. T’Pol’s eyebrows gathered in confusion under the bandage she wore as she recognized Dr. Phlox’s soothing tone. “If you are curious about the bandage over your eyes, Sub-Commander, let me assure you that it was merely a precaution. With the debris we found in the hallway with you, I took the liberty of adding a salve to help dissolve any foreign material.”
Sensing his wife’s confusion over their crewmates' presence, Trip explained, “The whole crew’s here, T’Pol. The cap’n’s leading the investigation at Admiral Forrest’s request. He wanted to be here when you woke up, but he’s meeting with the Vulcan authorities at the moment. Soval’s actually been a big help with that.”
“Soval and T’Les were here when you were brought in. Your mom’s with T’Vin, now, helping make arrangements with the Vulcan families.”
“How many?” T’Pol asked.
“Forty-three casualties, a third of them Vulcan,” Phlox provided. “You and Commander Tucker were fortunate not to be in your suite when the explosion occurred. Several of the living quarters were destroyed as well as the gymnasium, secondary cafeteria and several conference rooms.”
As the doctor informed her of the damages, T’Pol’s free hand moved to rest on her swollen abdomen. She and Ensign Kyle had been discussing the Human woman’s fascination with Vulcan glasswork, an art form unique to a world covered with sand that could be melted and molded into whatever form the artist desired. They had been headed toward Selina’s quarters when the explosion occurred. She remembered being propelled forward and then --
“Where is Ensign Kyle?” T’Pol asked, remembering the sound of the explosion in her ears.
“The ensign’s injuries were minor,” Phlox informed her. “She is working aboard Enterprise with Ensign Sato to inform the victim’s families back on Earth.”
T’Pol nodded, her relief over the Ensign Kyle’s well-being short-lived in the face of the tragedy that had struck so close to home -- both her Vulcan and Human senses of the word.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
For the first time in two days, Trip allowed himself a chance to step outside for some fresh air -- or what passed for fresh air on a desert world, anyway.
Even compared to his pre-T’Pol days when the engineer would allow his emotions to get the better of him in nearly all situations, Trip had been a wreck in the time following the Embassy bombing.
Since he’d felt the rumble of the explosion from the relative distance and safety of Admiral Gardner’s office, he had been worried about his wife and children.
Though he could feel T’Pol’s reassuring presence in their bond and was assured by Phlox and T’Vin that his wife was merely resting while she healed herself, Trip hadn’t allowed himself a moment to relax until his wife told him, herself, that she was fine.
Squinting his eyes, Trip admonished himself for not grabbing a pair of protective lenses before leaving the shadowed entrance of the Academy medical facility. Granted, he didn’t plan on spending a lot of time away from T’Pol, but the intense sunlight was interfering with his attempt to relax himself.
Trip turned at the sound of his name, recognizing the sound of his mother-in-law’s voice even as his eyes fought to distinguish her features in the sand-enhanced glare.
“Hello, T’Les,” he greeted, putting his hand over his eyes to shield them. “I thought I told you not to call me ‘Commander Tucker.’”
“I told you, Commander, that I will not use your nickname -- no matter how logical you seem to think it is.”
Despite himself, Trip felt a grin spread across his face as he remembered telling T’Les why her daughter called him “Trip.” Though he’d explained that he was the third son to be called “Charles Tucker,” his mother-in-law did not quite appreciate the triple concept and refused to use his preferred method of address.
“If I say you can get away with calling me ‘Charles,’ will you drop the ‘Commander Tucker’?” he asked.
T’Les tilted her head slightly, a gesture that reminded Trip of his wife. “I find that acceptable, Charles.”
Pleased with the compromise, Trip turned with his mother-in-law back toward the Science Academy. “I’m guessing that you’re here to see T’Pol.”
“That is a logical assumption, Charles. Your Dr. Phlox informed T’Vin of her progress. She, in turn, passed that information along to me.”
“I was going to call you myself, but I was caught up in --”
“There is no need to apologize, Charles. I can understand your concern for my daughter and the subsequent relief at her waking. Though I have not spent as much time with Humans as my husband or T’Pol, I do understand quite a bit of your species.”
Trip wasn’t quite sure how to take that, but didn’t press the issue as he felt a tickle at the back of his mind.
I am well, Trip, but I would appreciate your presence at your most earliest convenience. Though T’Pol attempted to assure him that she was not in any immediate harm, there was a hint of distress to his feel of her -- quickly cut off as she strengthened the guard around her mind.
“Is something wrong, Charles?” T’Les asked as Trip began moving more quickly along the corridor.
“T’Pol’s got company,” he said, attempting to touch his wife’s mind once again.
Sensing, but not understanding, her son-in-law’s determination, T’Les quickened her pace and followed Trip toward T’Pol’s room.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Despite her protests to the contrary, T’Pol had been resting as ordered by Dr. Phlox and seconded by Trip -- until her sleep was interrupted by a small tendril of someone’s presence in her mind.
The mind-touch had seemed familiar, but was cold compared to the familiar presence of Trip’s mind.
Opening her eyes, grateful that the bandages had been removed earlier, T’Pol was only mildly surprised by the person standing at her beside.
Having once shared a mind meld with him when she was seven-years-old, T’Pol supposed she should have expected a residual connection to the man who would have been her husband.
If it were not for the man who was her husband -- a displeased Human currently standing in the doorway.
“Who the hell are you?” Trip asked, glaring at the Vulcan man standing too close to his wife.
“I am Koss,” the Vulcan said, not moving as Trip maneuvered himself so that he was standing between his wife and the man who had caused her even the mildest distress.
“The ex?” Trip asked, his tone surprised as he regarded Koss.
T’Les and Koss, obviously confused by the term, looked to T’Pol.
“Yes, Husband. Koss is my former betrothed.”
Trip eyed Koss. “Huh. I expected you to be taller.”
Looking down at the engineer, Koss replied, “You are shorter than I am, Human.”
Trip shrugged. “So what brings you to my wife’s hospital room?”
“I was concerned. Though our betrothal was dissolved, I do not wish harm to come to T’Pol.”
Trip looked skeptical, a feeling echoed in his wife. As far as he knew, T’Pol had not heard from Koss since she broke off their engagement two years ago.
“You can see, Koss,” T’Les said, addressing the Vulcan she had once allowed Soval to chose for her daughter’s mate, “T’Pol and her unborn children are doing well.”
At the mention of the children, Koss looked pointedly at T’Pol’s swollen abdomen. “As I said, I do not wish harm to come to T’Pol. Or to her children. That is why I have come here today. I do not believe you are entirely safe while you remain on Vulcan.”
Both Trip and T’Pol tensed at the ominous -- for a Vulcan, at least -- tone of Koss’ voice.
“Do you know something about the attack upon the Embassy, Koss?” T’Pol asked.
“I have no information that would further your captain’s investigation, but there has been talk among some groups that the Vulcan alliance with Earth has gone on long enough with no benefit to our people.”
Trip frowned. “And what does that have to do with the safety of our children?”
“Your children are the first Vulcan-Human hybrids; the truest sign of our two cultures integration. There are many who see their very existence as a possible threat to the future of our species.”
“Not all Vulcans have agreed with our efforts to help Humans and other species,” T’Les said, “But I do not believe they would take the measures you are suggesting.”
“As I said, I have no information that would further your investigation, only a wish to see no harm come to T’Pol or her children.” Koss turned his attention fully on Trip. “Or to you, Commander.”
“What did I do?”
“You are the father of these children and, in some eyes, the chief contributor of the pollution of Vulcan culture.”
Trip opened his mouth to protest Koss’ statement, but couldn’t really think of anything to say. He knew some Vulcans could be close-minded pains in the ass -- the same as some Humans -- but even he found it hard to believe that any of them could be responsible for the Embassy bombing.
Or potential threats to his children.
Chapter Thirty-One - Insert clever title here
Fresh from his third shower of the day, Archer suppressed a growl as the communicator on his desk chimed.
He set aside the towel he’d been using on his damp hair as he answered.
“Captain, you have an incoming transmission from Admiral Forrest.”
Archer smiled, despite everything, at Hoshi’s cheerful tone. The ensign had been nearly giddy since her visit with T’Pol and T’Les the day before. Because T’Les had missed her daughter’s nuptials, Hoshi had made a copy of the ship’s record of the event. Apparently, the Vulcan mother-of-the-bride had appreciated the gesture a great deal and the three women had spent several hours together.
“I’ll talk to the admiral down here, Hoshi,” the captain said, settling into his desk chair. He attempted to comb his hair to some semblance of order, but succeeded only in making it stand at odd angles.
“Hello, Jonathan,” Maxwell Forrest greeted as his visage appeared on the screen. The admiral eyed Archer’s hair. “Am I catching you at a bad time?”
“Not at all, Admiral. Just following Soval’s advice.”
Forrest nodded in understanding. “Said you smelled bad, did he?”
“It’s really too bad that Vulcans have such a sensitive sense of smell and live on such a warm planet.”
“That it is, sir.” Archer’s smile faded a bit. “I take it you heard about the threats to the hybrids.”
The admiral’s face also turned grim. “I did, and I can’t say I’m surprised.”
At Archer’s questioning look, Forrest continued, “Soval wasn’t the only Vulcan on Earth to be upset about T’Pol’s pregnancy. Several other representatives have expressed their disapproval over the sub-commander’s relationship with Commander Tucker.”
“Disapproval I can understand, but threatening the lives of unborn children...”
“I know, Jon. I know. It’s hard to believe anyone -- Vulcan or Human -- could be capable of such a thing. However, not looking too far into our own history we know that such atrocities are possible.” Forrest was quiet a moment. “You’ve taken proper security measures?”
“Lieutenant Reed and Major Hayes have members of both their teams watching T’Pol and Trip. We also have an officer following T’Les, at Trip’s suggestion. Soval has his own security detail, but his wife could be viewed as a viable target.”
“Good thinking. If there really is a group out there who believes Humans have tainted Vulcan, Soval could be just as much to blame as T’Pol and Tucker.”
It was hard for Archer to believe that, while Earth was in the process of making new allies with the Xindi, they could be in danger of losing their friendship with Vulcan.
“How are the negotiations with the Xindi representatives going, Admiral?”
Forrest’s frown dissolved into a pleased look. “Very well, Jon. It’s taken some time for both sides to resolve the conflicts of the last year, but I’m beginning to think that our relationship with the Xindi could be quite beneficial for all of us.” Forrest smiled. “Your friend Rajiin has been quite helpful.”
Archer smiled as well, thinking of the mysterious woman who, while light-years away, retained a warm place in his heart. “I’m glad to hear that, Admiral.”
“She also asked that I give you a message.”
Forrest reached for a PADD on his desk, his face serious as he read Rajiin’s missive: “‘Be sure to plume the Orcanian ivy.’ I didn’t realize you were a gardener, Jon.”
“It’s an inside joke, Admiral,” Archer said, hoping Forrest wouldn’t press for details.
“Ah,” Forrest said, not understanding the joke itself but understanding the manner of it. “Is there anything you wish me to pass along to her?”
“No, Admiral, that’s quite all right. I’m sure we’ll be back to Earth soon enough.”
“You’re hopeful of the investigation, Jon?”
“Soval has arranged a meeting with the Vulcan High Command. They apparently have some information from their own investigation to share with us.”
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Standing in the Vulcan High Command office, Malcolm couldn’t help the anxious feeling in the pit of his stomach as the three members of the Vulcan High Command entered the office where he, Captain Archer and Trip had been ordered to wait.
Perhaps it was the severe look on their faces or the unbearable heat of the room, but Malcolm had a hard time not thinking of the disastrous scenarios that played through his head.
Judging by the shared expression on his fellow officers’ faces, he guessed that Trip and the captain were experiencing the same sensation.
Taking their places at the large table, the Vulcans nodded for the three Humans to be seated. Once they were, the center Vulcan -- whose name Malcolm couldn’t remember -- spoke.
“You may close your investigation into the incident at the Earth Embassy, Captain Archer. Our security detail has found and detained the perpetrator.”
It took a moment for the captain to recover from that announcement. And, even when he did, all he could ask was, “Who?”
“An Andorian agent has been apprehended and claims responsibility for the bombing,” the Vulcan to Malcolm’s right provided.
Continuing the explanation, the third Vulcan explained, “It is logical to assume the Andorians are attempting to drive a wedge between Vulcan and Earth in order to rally Humans to their side.”
Malcolm found that hard to believe. What would an Andorian have to gain from breaking Earth and Vulcan ties and, if that was their purpose, there were other ways in which to do it. Off the top of his head, the security officer could think of at least three means that would be better suited for such ends.
Captain Archer also found the Vulcans’ information hard to believe. “I know Andorians can be a bit hotheaded, but I don’t think Captain Shran or any of his crew could be responsible for something like this.”
“Commander Shran is an individual,” Vulcan in the middle rebuked. “He cannot be representative of an entire race. Just as T’Pol does not embody all Vulcan.”
Trip frowned at the Vulcan’s statement. “What does T’Pol have to do with this?”
Vulcan on the right focused his attention on the engineer. “Your relationship with one of our officers, Commander Tucker, was a breach of conduct on both your parts. You further insult Vulcan tradition -- including the wishes of T’Pol’s family -- by disgracing the bond of marriage. The eventual arrival of your offspring will be a further affront to the Vulcan people.”
“Wait a minute,” Trip said, “I thought we were here to discuss the attack on the Embassy.”
“The matter of the Earth Embassy has been resolved, Commander. However, your continued presence on Vulcan is still an issue.”
Archer took a step toward the Vulcan table. “I don’t understand how you can say the Embassy attack has been resolved when Earth authorities haven’t had a chance to see this suspect of yours. And I also don’t understand how you can expect to attack two of my officers and get away with it.”
“We have done nothing of the sort, Captain Archer,” said Vulcan on the left. “T’Pol and Commander Tucker are in no danger from the Vulcan High Command.”
“However,” said Vulcan in the middle. “It may be best for all involved if, once T’Pol is able, you return to Earth.”
“And if they do not leave?” Malcolm asked.
Vulcan on the right answered, “That is their choice, though I do not know how comfortable that life will be.”
“If this is a threat --”
“On the contrary, Commander,” Vulcan in the middle contradicted. “This is simply a warning for your best interest and the future interests of Vulcan relations with Earth.”
“Just what is that supposed to mean?” Archer asked.
“Captain, we have apprehended and dealt with the agent responsible for killing several of your fellow officers as well as our own people.” Vulcan in the middle turned his attention back to Trip. “The Vulcan High Command has nothing but good intentions toward our continued relationship with Earth.”
Abruptly, the three Vulcans stood and filed out of the room, leaving the Starfleet officers with more questions than what they’d arrived with.
“Do we have any idea what the hell just happened?” Archer asked, staring at the door the Vulcans had retreated through.
“The entire thing seemed awfully suspicious to me, sir,” Malcolm said, his look pensive. “I can’t think of any Andorian who would spend more than a few minutes on Vulcan in this unbearable heat -- let alone long enough to get caught after planting a sophisticated explosive in the Embassy.”
Archer nodded. “And I don’t respond kindly to veiled threats. Do you think this is what Koss was warning us about?” The captain looked to his engineer expectantly. “Trip?”
The look on Trip’s face was distant. “Something’s going on,” he finally said.
“It’s obvious something’s going on, Trip. Maybe Soval can --”
“No, that’s not what I mean,” Trip said. “Something’s going on with T’Pol.” He closed his eyes a moment, taking a deep breath. “It’s the twins. I think she’s gone into labor.”
Not questioning how his friend knew that his absent wife was about to give birth, the captain reached for his communicator. “Archer to Enterprise.”
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Materializing in T’Pol’s hospital room, Trip looked immediately to the bed his mate should have been laying in and noted the presence of his in-laws. “Where’s my wife?”
Soval stood. “T’Pol is with the Healers, Commander. Your presence is not needed.”
“The hell it isn’t.” Trip took a step toward the door, only to have the ambassador move to block his way. “Look, Soval. I’m trying to be nice to you for T’Pol’s sake. But you try to get between me and my family and I’ll shove your theory about inferior Human strength down your throat.”
Soval looked to his wife, as though Trip’s outburst was a demonstration of why he was unsuitable for their daughter.
T’Les, however, stood to join Trip. “Charles’ place is with T’Pol, Husband. She will need him.”
The ambassador stared at his wife for a moment before acquiescing. “Very well, Commander,” Soval inclined his head toward a young Vulcan healer standing outside the room. “Sorel will lead you.”
[Sorel is from The Vulcan Academy Murders -- an excellent book if you’re interested in Spock’s family or the Vulcan culture. In the book, he is an established Healer. However, I think it possible he would be a young resident when T’Pol and Trip are about to become parents. If you want more advice on good Spock or Vulcan books, drop me a line and I can list off my bookshelf.]
Chapter Thirty-Two - And so it begins...
Though T’Pol never considered herself much for illogical daydreams, she had to admit that, when she pictured herself becoming a mother, she always imagined she would give birth in the traditional Vulcan caverns deep beneath the planet’s surface. Never would she have guessed that she would deliver her children in the sterile environment of the Vulcan Science Academy hospital.
Of course, never would she have thought that her children would be half-alien and she would be happily -- yes, happily -- married to an irrational Human. It was true that life, no matter how logically one may approach it, could not be planned in advance. Because no one could have been prepared for the arrival of T’Mir and Charles Tucker IV.
Seated on the bed, T’Pol looked down at the tiny bundle she held in her arms. Never in her life had she felt so calm, so at peace, as she did looking down into her son’s face. She could sense the same peace from her husband as he sat next to her, holding their daughter.
Considering the Vulcan High Command had, in the most polite way a bunch of stodgy old Vulcans could, told Trip and T’Pol their family was not welcome on the planet, the Tuckers were doing quite well for their first hours together.
“They are beautiful, aren’t they?” Trip asked, his voice barely above a whisper for fear of waking either infant.
T’Pol did not answer -- she didn’t need to -- as she met her mate’s gaze. She had chastised him in the past for applying aesthetic labels to their potential offspring, but now, with her children and him, T’Pol could not herself recall anything ever being more beautiful than her family.
“Y’think Soval was ticked about our choice of names?” Trip asked, grinning as he remembered the tightened look on the Vulcan’s face when he first met his grandchildren.
“My mother was pleased to have her own mother honored,” T’Pol offered. It was not a common practice to name children for an ancestor, aside from the use of an “S” name for males in honor of Surak. T’Les seemed to understand that T’Pol wanted to impart a piece of Vulcan heritage upon her daughter, just as Trip wanted to continue his own family’s tradition with their son’s name.
“The ambassador understands the art of compromise, Husband. In time he will understand the logic of naming our children to reflect both their cultures.”
“For a woman who gave birth less than three hours ago, you’re certainly being quite reasonable. Nothing like the stories my dad tells about my mom.”
T’Pol stiffened at the mention of her mother-in-law, a woman she had yet to meet, and roused Charles enough that he opened his blue eyes to peer up at her.
Sensing that her brother was awake, T’Mir also opened her eyes and regarded her father. As Trip looked into his daughter’s brown eyes, so like her mother’s, he couldn’t help the smile that spread across his face.
Seeing this, T’Mir’s lips moved into a miniature facsimile. “Look at that,” Trip said with awe, “She’s smiling at me.”
T’Pol refrained from telling her husband that, according to most of the books she’d read, the baby’s “smile” was probably a result of the nutritional supplement disagreeing with her small digestive system -- even as she watched Charles mimic the same facial expression.
For a perfect moment in time, T’Pol allowed herself to smile with her husband and children.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
With the various gifts from Earth packed and waiting for Trip to carry them -- he refused to allow her to lift even the oversized bear Ensign Sato had brought -- T’Pol waited for her husband to return to the hospital room.
Seated on the bed, she looked up at the sound of approaching footsteps along the corridor -- footsteps that most definitely did not belong to her husband.
As her visitor entered, T’Pol greeted, “Hello, Father.”
“T’Pol,” Soval said, looking at his daughter and the various packages piled next to her on the bed. “Your mother informed me that you were leaving.”
“It is obvious that we are not welcome on Vulcan.”
“It is not you who is unwelcome, T’Pol. You can remain here, with your people.”
Though it wasn’t the first time he had suggested it, T’Pol was still surprised at her father’s audacity. “You would have me abandon my husband and children.”
“I would have you remember who you are.”
“I know precisely who I am,” T’Pol stated firmly. Then, in an attempt to appeal to her father in logical fashion, changed her tactic. “Even if I were to part from my husband, I would not be welcome here on Vulcan. You, though you have spent years as ambassador to Earth, believe I am ‘tainted’ with Human emotion.”
“Several of your decisions bear the flavor of Human influence,” Soval reminded his daughter. “Why else would you have broken your engagement to Koss? Or resigned your commission to stay on that ship?”
With an internal sigh of disappointment, T’Pol realized there was nothing she could say that would have make her father understand. None of her reasons would seem logical enough for him. Where did loyalty, friendship and love fit into the Vulcan ideal? Any further discussion would be a waste of both her time and Soval’s.
“I will not leave my family.”
“The children are not at fault for their creation, T’Pol,” Soval said, regarding the sleeping twins in their respective cribs. “T’Mir and --” with great effort, he forced himself to refer to his grandson by his very Human name “And Charles will be raised as Vulcans. Your association with Mr. Tucker, however, must end.”
“It is unfortunate you feel that way, but I will not deny my children their father. Nor will I leave my husband.”
“You deny your children their heritage.”
“If their heritage will not accept their father, then I do not believe it is a heritage my children could be part of.”
“If you choose this road, you will never be accepted on Vulcan, T’Pol. Your children will never be accepted.”
“I am aware of the consequences.”
Seeing there was nothing further he could say to dissuade her course, Soval turned to leave. At the door he paused. “You may never be accepted on Vulcan, T’Pol, but you -- all of you -- are still a part of this family.”
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Once again aboard Enterprise, the place where their relationship began, T’Pol stood with her husband as Vulcan receded from view.
Trip wrapped an arm about his wife. “I’m real sorry, T’Pol.”
“It is unfortunate, but not unexpected.”
“‘Unfortunate?’ T’Pol, you’re being forced off your own planet.”
“I am not being forced, Husband. I am making a choice.”
“Yeah, you chose me and your own people give up on you.”
T’Pol rested her head on her husband’s shoulder, exhaustion from the last several days -- several months -- catching up to her. Phlox had strongly suggested that she needed to rest, preferably in Sickbay where he could keep a close watch over her as he was currently doing for the sleeping twins.
But T’Pol needed to see her homeworld one last time.
As Enterprise entered warp, T’Pol turned from the windows and regarded the Human who was her mate. Though he remained silent, she felt his love and support through their bond -- a miracle that had only been strengthened by the birth of their children, not weakened.
“Do you truly believe our union will meet less opposition on Earth?” she asked.
“I can’t say for sure, but I certainly hope so. You’re a hero and a dedicated Starfleet officer.” He traced a finger over the three pips that now adorned her uniform. The rank, as well as the Earth-bound research and development facility they were to head, was a belated wedding gift from Admiral Forrest. Though a small part of Trip ached to give up space travel, nothing was more important than being with his family. “Plus, you’re a soon-to-be upstanding Earth citizen. What more could anyone need to know you belong?”
“Including your own family?”
“Darlin’,” Trip answered, turning with his wife as they headed back to Sickbay and their children, “My family is going to love you.”
Return to Part 2 (Chapters 14-24)
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
I first saw this at ff.net and was impressed. Glad to see it finished and here! Looking forward to the sequel.
Wow! This was a treat to find in the updates. A nice, looong fic to sink my teeth into. Thank you for it! Great fun, and very interesting!
Like Starwind I´ve first read it at ff.net. Gorgeous fic! I´m glad you´ve posted it here too.
I was also glad to see this after first reading it on fanfiction.net. You've got a real gift for integrating the canon with a much better ending for TnT. You've also got a great ear for dialogue! You wrote very true to the characters. Thanks so much for sending it over here! Can't wait for the sequel!
This is terrific! I can't wait to read your take on the Tucker clan. I love your ideas...T'pol pregnant with twins (I admit I had a hard time with that one, but you made it believable)...your chapter titles ('Insert clever title here' LOL!)... Soval as T'pol's father... that one threw me for a loop. Now I'll have to go back and re-watch their interactions on the series to see if I can see any indication of where that idea came from. Great stuff!
I am happy too that this finally made it to this site. I also read it on ff.net. Thanks, Jocelyn!
I loved it! Yessssssssss! Sequel! Great chapter titles, and just... just... awewsome story all around! More, please! :)
This is just beautiful! I love it! Thank you so very much for sharing with us! I just wish Trip & T'Pol had gotten a chance to speak with those 'Cedar' people to find out how this all happened. Maybe you'll touch on that topic in the sequel?
This was a great story. I really enjoyed it... And I'll be looking forward to the next installment.
I loved it. You know, because I believe this was written back in Season 3, you have shown us a particularly interesting viewpoint of T'Pol regarding affection and relationships...Since this was before any of the Harbinger/Similitude/Home/Vulcan arc stuff. And I really enjoyed it!
I've been reading this story on fanfiction.net for a loooooooong time. Glad to see you made it over here!
I keep listening to the news speaking about getting free online grant applications so I have been looking around for the best site to get one.