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Repairs- Ch. 2
Rating: R - English – Romance, Angst
He'd been looking for "development, warp reactors," really. Looking for clues -- how to get more efficiency, more speed out of the Enterprise's primary reactors -- maybe warp 6, even. Now he was stunned, speechless: "development, V.40E female, reproductive." Excellent light reading, he'd thought mischievously when he saw it in the index entries of the Vulcan database. A treasury of factoids to tease her with next time she brought up shore leave and stress-management over dinner... so he read it, for five hours. Stunned, speechless... and then he made the logical connection...
Trip Tucker clicked off the viewscreen, and stared at the still-glowing rectangle on his desk. This is my fault. No, he corrected, this will be my fault... if she dies, it will be my fault. I told her to dump Koss. I took away her release valve. I told her to stay...
Damn! I wanted her to stay... what have I done?
"T'Pol... T'Pol... can you hear me?" Nothing. Trip adjusted the frequency, sliding the needle-nose pliers up the wires he'd pulled out of the chime housing -- Amazing you could make a functional solenoid with that, huh? -- and tried again. "T'Pol?"
Nothing. He knew the frequency he needed to reach her chime assembly... he knew, no question. Where was she? Frustrated, and more worried than he felt comfortable being, he slammed his fist into the bulkhead. Damn!
He jerked the pliers down... "Reed... can you hear me? Malcolm?" He heard static in return, and a faint voice. He adjusted the pliers again, carefully this time, and the armory officer's crackling voice blasted in his ear... Damn, where was she?
He'd talked to Malcolm and Phlox -- they were fine... then he carefully tuned his jury-rigged coil for T'Pol's quarters again, and squeezed his eyes shut. "T'Pol? Ya okay? T'Pol?"
"I... am... I..." Faint, shakey, uncertain.
"Stay with me, T'Pol... hang on, let me fix..." he rushed, relived to hear her voice. "Ya okay? Where've ya been?"
"No... not... here..." Trip heard a thump and some scratching. The line went static. Was she pulling apart her chime assembly, too? Finally, the static stopped and her voice sharpened a bit, became stronger. "One of us needs to get out, to Daniels quarters. To... help the captain. What... are our best options?"
The Enterprise's chief engineer was exhausted, and filthy... he'd never been this dirty before, he thought idly as he crawled into the port GFS conduit again, plasma torch and one of Reed's portable shield generators tucked into the front of his jumpsuit. Never.
The better part of three decks were gone on the port bow, thanks to a Romulan mine they'd hit. And they'd detached the section of hull plating where a second mine had attached itself... with the Cap'n and Malcolm on top of it... yeah, just surf the shock wave right back to the cargo bay. Whose stupid idea was that?
And now he had nineteen compartments to reconstruct, a dozen more to check for integrity, and 5500 square meters of hull plating to replace... somehow. Damn, what a mess... what a mess!
As soon as they'd dropped out of warp, the entire engineering staff got to work repairing the most critical damage, stabilizing the ship and shoring up the hull. With T'Pol, who appeared out of nowhere in Engineering, he's set up the plan: all staff would work 8 hours on, 4 off, in teams of two or four... rotating EV in the breach and interior support duty. Hopkins and Matthews would man fabrication full-time, making what they could out of what they had, which he knew wouldn't be nearly enough - a seventh of the primary! How would he replace that? This scale of repair would take three months minimum at Jupiter Station... and a hell of a lot longer in deep space. Damn, what he wouldn't give for protein resequencer that could make anything, not just food... a real replicator, to make bolts or bulkheads... they had to get the ship to a dry dock somehow... or a dry dock would have to come to them. Damn!
So here he was: initial repairs, day 3, shift 8...
"Are you in position, Mister Tucker?" The science officer's voice crackled in his ear unit. She'd made it to the other side of C juncture before him, in her EV suit... in the part of the conduit that was exposed to open space. She didn't have to crawl with a torch in her pants, he thought, too tired to chuckle...
"Almost, hold on... there's lots of debris in here... okay -- can you scan for me?"
"Confirmed, you are directly in front of me, through the port side of the corridor..." T'Pol tapped her gloved hand against the scorched and pockmarked metal in front of her, so he could orient.
"Okay, let's go..." The engineer pulled out the portable shield generator and clamped it to that spot T'Pol had just tapped, then pulled out the array leads. "You have a frequency for me, T'Pol?"
Her voice crackled, "One-four-two, no... one-four-three."
"Done. Move back, darlin', I'm switching it on." The portable unit whined, and the metal of the corridor wall shimmered... the field was holding, amazing, and with luck, it would keep the panel from buckling until it could be replaced properly. They were generating a force field inside the metal of the corridor -- not in front of it, or behind it -- in it! If this worked, he thought, maybe he could incorporate shield generators into all the replacement hull plating... it would make the hull stronger, and the shield strength could be adjustable... no more electrical polarization of the metal itself... he closed his eyes, and tried to set the thoughts aside. Stay on task, Trip. You have a mess to clean up.
"Okay on your end, T'Pol?"
"Affirmative. I am coming in."
The entire engineering crew was working in teams of two or four, busy as bees, so Trip met the science officer -- his de facto partner for this shift -- coming out of the amidship airlock himself, his mind struggling to prioritize the next group of repair tasks as he helped her to sit and detach the bulky helmet from the EV suit. "Scott and Zu have 61 and 62 repressurized, but 62 is leaking -- they'll have to go back in -- and Hopkins is making a list of components to be fabricated," he told her. "E deck junctions should probably be next."
Helmet finally off, the science officer breathed raggedly, and fumbled with the zipper of the EV outer suit. She acknowledged his remarks with a distracted nod, and pulled at the gloves she was wearing.
"Let me..." Trip took her hands and pulled gently, slipping the heavy gloves straight off her small hands. They were shaking, and her fingertips were blue-green. "Damn, you're shaking... he grabbed her shoulders and turned her bodily around, to get a look at the gauges. "Pressure, pressure... it's fine, ya shouldn't be shaking. Are ya cold?" Without thinking, he pressed his hand against her neck, and she flinched.
"You're burning up." He felt her cheek, frowned, then tried to take her hand again.
"I am fine." T'Pol pulled away hastily, fumbling with the zipper again.
"No, you're not. Are you sick? Dizzy?"
"I am not ill," she repeated stiffly, and set her mouth in a hard line. Her eyes flickered with anger, or something else.
Trip looked down into her face, astonished as his mind clicked in to what he was seeing... no, she wasn't sick. She was... incredible. Glowing. Beautiful...
"Oh, no... damn!" He spat. "Your timing is incredible, ya know that?"
Lieutenant Scott and Crewman Zu burst into the corridor noisily, titanium bracing and torches in hand, preparing for a second excursion into section 62. Scott nodded distractedly at Trip as they passed.
"This is a personal matter, Mister Tucker," she whispered with barely- controlled fury, as she tapped her fingertips absently against the hard com- link panel on her EV suit, leaving dents.
"Damn right it is, and I'm the person responsible. You have to talk to me," he insisted when the crewmen rounded the corner to the airlock.
"You are not responsible. You do not even know what we are 'talking' about," she said through clenched teeth.
"I do so."
"No, you do not."
"You stayed on Enterprise because I told ya to... ya left your husband at the altar, and now you're... needin' one..." he faltered as she glared at him. And then his uncertainty turned to anger as well. What was she doing? "How are you plannin' on handlin' this anyway? Or do you just intend to lock yourself in your cabin until you burn up?"
She raised an eyebrow, surprised. "That is a simplistic view of the situation."
"Damn, T'Pol, I read the medical texts. I looked at the schematics... I know the details -- all of them. The 45 degree fever associated with this pon frell -- and that is what it is, I can tell -- will kill you if you don't have an outlet for the adrenaline and the sexual energy. There are no medicines, no drugs you can take... Did you tell Jon? We could get you back to Vulcan..."
"No. I cannot go to Vulcan."
"Koss married someone else." He made the statement, not knowing how he knew it was a fact, but knowing.
"Yes." She looked at him and her mask broke. She glanced around her, with a tinge of sadness. "I thought I would have more time... here..."
"Ya can... we'll fix it, we'll... What about one of us? Every man on the bridge respects ya. You're as good a friend to Jon as I am, and he knows it... and Malcolm... he practically worships ya. All you'd have to do was ask, or show up at his door. A human male wouldn't think about it twice, T'Pol, the taboo isn't there... short term or long term. There's no shame in it, and no commitment if you don't want it," his voice drifted off as he watched her eyes glaze over. She was far away, considering. When she finally spoke, her candid, halting answer was not what he'd expected.
"My... attentions... would likely cause severe damage to a human male. I am much stronger than the Captain, or Mister Reed, and I would not be... controllable for the first several... encounters."
"So, run a marathon first... wear yourself out."
She glared at him, intense, seething again. "We have work to do."
NOTE: If you like, stay tuned for T'Pol's POV and decision... in process now. And in case you haven't noticed, this is TOTALLY different than the actual series' handling of the mine-damage repairs... for my universe, there is no magic space station -- "Dead Stop" never happened (sorry, "Matrix" fans).
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