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The Greater Good - Part 3
Author - Peter Simons and Clicks
Fan Fiction Main Page | Stories sorted by title, author, genre, and rating
The Greater Good: Part III
By Peter Simons and Clicks
Summary: Sequel to Part II.
It was a disaster.
They had discovered the TALAR's warp trail. They had been able to follow Serat. They had found the Andorian colony. They had located him on the surface. And when they had arrived, it had been too late.
T'Pol felt her control slip.
Everything had gone wrong. Everything had gone so terribly wrong! Serat had released the virus already. He and Charles had fought over the phial containing it, but Serat was too strong, too determined to be stopped. And now the virus was released. They had been too late!
Thoughts raced through T'Pol's head, but they were incoherent. They were thoughts of pure desperation. She found herself unable to deal with them. Would she give in to those emotions now, she would shatter into a million pieces and nothing would ever be able to mend her. So she clutched to her logic like a drowning man will catch at a straw. If she allowed the virus to infect the colony, it would mean war. Andoria would not believe a word of this story, they would see this as an act of aggression. And they would retaliate. Thousands of lives would perish if she allowed the virus to spread. And there was only one way to stop it.
T'Pol aimed the flamethrower at Serat. At her childhood friend. And he knew her so well, even now he understood her better than she did.
»T'Pol, if you choose to kill me to prevent a war, you act exactly the same way I did. I too chose to sacrifice lives for a greater good. For the greater good of Vulcan. We differ only in the end, not in the means. Do you appreciate the irony in that?«
She spoke only two words, but still her voice broke as she spoke them.
She pulled the trigger and sent off a blast of liquid fire at the man she had known for over 60 years. It engulfed him completely. The instant it did, he was just gone. All she saw was fire, all she felt was heat, and all she smelt was death.
After an eternity she released the trigger and looked the spot where her friend had been standing only seconds ago. There was nothing left of him.
She turned and aimed the flamethrower at Charles.
»What are you doing, T'Pol?«
She closed her eyes. His voice had shock-frozen her. She was completely made of ice, there was no life left in her. She had died even before he would. But there was nothing she could do. He might think she had a choice, but she had not. She opened her eyes again and studied the man she had loved. She noticed how his shirt had been torn at the arm, when he had been caught in some branches. She noticed how his trousers were dirty from walking through the wetland of the colony. For one last time she looked at his face. In a brief moment, all this would be gone. There would be nothing left of him but ashes. She swallowed hard.
T'Pol wanted to say something to Charles. She wanted to say she was sorry. But she knew, if she did, if she spoke to him now, she would fall apart. She could not allow that to happen. So she once more took aim and placed her forefinger on the trigger of the weapon.
But before she had fired, a strange noise startled her. She dared not to lower the weapon as she looked to her right side and saw a figure materializing. It was Phlox, and he was wearing an EV suit. She turned her eyes back on her target. On Charles. She kept her aim. She knew, she would never be able to aim at him again if she lowered the weapon now. She could not allow it.
»T'Pol?« Phlox spoke to her. His voice sounded strange through the speaker of his helmet. »Don't do anything foolish, please, will you? I will inject Commander Tucker with the antidote.«
Slowly the Denobulan approached Charles and put the hypospray to his neck. It injected the anti-virus with a soft swoosh. Charles did not move. He had not moved all the time. He didn't even blink, but kept his blue eyes fixed on her. There was no warmth in them. They were cold.
Finally Charles moved. He took one step after another towards her, seemingly not even registering the fact that she still had a flamethrower aimed at him. T'Pol could not move.
When Charles stood right in front of her, he stopped and looked straight into her eyes. He leaned in even closer. Another inch, and his clothes would have caught fire on the weapon. His eyes were so cold!
For the first time in her life, T'Pol truly understood how he must have felt around her. She so much needed him to be warm; she no much needed him to give her an emotion — ANY emotion! She so much needed him to show her something that proved he still lived. To prove she still lived! But his face was a mask. Impassionate. Blank. Like hers had been all those years. He spoke.
»You may think you did not kill me just now, T'Pol. But you know what? You did. I am dead. And you are dead for me as well. Whatever we had together … it is dead now.«
Then he turned around and walked away.
T'Pol jerked violently into a sitting position and screamed from the bottom of her lungs. She was in tatters, she had no idea where she was. Like a trapped animal she felt searing panic. She turned her head left, right, left again, but she didn't see anything. She only felt — and all she felt was panic. Then finally she realized that she was in her quarters. She was in her bed. It had not been real! Charles lived! But the knowledge didn't help. The emotions simply washed her away.
Her last conscious action was to throw her face into the pillow, she pressed her face against it, and then she screamed once more. She screamed into her pillow until she had no air left and collapsed on the bed. Then she just lay there and shook like a leaf.
Trip jumped out of the chair he had been sitting in when he heard the door chime. He did not dare to hope, but when the door opened, there she stood! But his heart stopped beating the moment he saw her face.
»Will you still care fo—«
By instinct he reached for her and pulled her into the room. Her left hand flew up to his right, immediately their hands found each other, and when their palms touched, their fingers interlocked with force.
Trip lost consciousness instantaneously.
Was he dead?
Trip sure wished he would be dead, because whatever it felt like, it had to be better than this. Someone had slammed a brick over his head. At least a dozen times.
What had happened?
Had he been flogged? He felt HORRIBLE!
He tried to move. But whether he succeeded or not he could not tell. His whole body was put together wrong. Nothing fit, everything itched and burned.
The attempt to move had awakened his mind. He regretted it. The pain only grew more intense. It was everywhere. Every fiber of his body and his mind seared with pain.
Where was this horrible noise coming from?
He lost consciousness again.
Where was he?
Trip couldn't remember anything. The last thing he knew was that T'Pol had come to his quarters. He remembered touching her. But what had happened then?
Where was she?
He had no words to describe how he felt. His mind was raw. He was hypersensitive to even the slightest sound. Just a stir in the air around him caused him discomfort and irritation. His body felt no different. It felt, as if every bone in his body had been broken. His shoulders had snapped out of their joints. He could not swallow. His neck felt wrong. He couldn't even feel his legs.
What had happened?
Very, very slowly Trip opened his eyes. He realized that T'Pol was still there. They were still in his quarters. They lay on the floor. He had his arms wrapped around her upper body. He noticed how powerfully his arms pulled her against him. Her right arm was wrapped around his neck. He noticed how powerfully she pulled his face towards hers, how their cheeks pressed against another. Where was her other arm?
He blinked and tried to focus. Where was it? He tried to lock his gaze on her left shoulder. It took him a while. Then he followed her arm with his eyes. It was in front of her, between them. Carefully he tried to move his head, to see where it went, but T'Pol held him like vice. He could not move. Following an impulse he relaxed his own right arm and carefully moved his hand upwards to her shoulder behind her, so that he could see it. Her left arm followed the movement slightly.
She had held on! They had held on! Their hands were white from the pressure, but they had not let go!
T'Pol stirred in his arms. She made a long drawn-out keening sound and pain hit him like a jackhammer. He lost consciousness once more.
When Trip awoke for the third time, he knew where he was. The immense agony was still there. Why did it not subside? Why had he to feel so much pain?
His mind searched for T'Pol, but there was nothing. He could see her in his arms, but he didn't feel her.
That could not be right?
He tried to ignore the pain for only a moment, so that he could focus, but it was impossible.
Slowly an idea formed in his mind. He loosened his hold around T'Pol, so that he could move his left arm. Carefully he placed the fingers of his left hand on the back of her neck and drew the fingertips downwards along her spine.
He could feel it!
He could feel her!
All these emotions, all these sensations, all this pain … it was all hers!
He had not lost her!
Instinctively his arms contracted around her. If it was possible, then he held her even more tightly than before. He would NEVER EVER let go. He gave in to the pain, he focused on the sensations, he drew every bit of it in. It meant absolutely nothing to him that it hurt, he wanted to feel her, no matter what it was!
Oh, she felt so HORRIBLE!
He lost himself completely in her pain, in her desperation, in her confusion. Anything as long as it came from her.
It broke his heart how terrible she felt, and he began to cry. He wouldn't even try to stop, he just cried, and cried, and cried. He cried for her.
»I am here.«
»I am so sorry!«
»Why do such horrible things happen to us, Charles? Why? Why?«
»I don't know, T'Pol.«
»I don't understand it, Charles. Why? Why us? Why has this happened? Why are we on this mission of destruction? Why did he do it?«
»I do not know, T'Pol.«
»I cannot exist like this, Charles! It is impossible! Why do I get hurt all the time? Why do you get hurt all the time? Where is the logic in that? Why is this necessary?«
»I will care for you, T'Pol.«
»I am so sorry, Charles!«
»How can you deal with these emotions, Charles? How can you live with feeling like this?«
»I have no other choice, T'Pol.«
»I cannot do it, Charles. It is impossible!«
»We will share the emotions, T'Pol.«
»I do not understand it! I know him for all my life, Charles. For over 60 years we have been friends. We are so alike. We have always been so similar! He always understood me so well. And now I realize I do not understand him it all! How is this possible?«
»He has changed.«
»It is wrong. It is just wrong! This should not have happened, he should not have done this. And just thinking about what he might do drives me insane, Charles. I advised the Captain to meet him, I brought him aboard. I was the one he used to extort the virus … I am reponsible, Charles.«
»No, T'Pol. Serat is responsible.«
»It cannot be that simple. That cannot be the whole truth, Charles. So many factors go into the equation, so many coincidences have happened, it is just impossible that anyone can be responsible for this alone.«
»Serat chose to do what he did, T'Pol. You didn't make that choice.«
»I didn't even have a choice to make, Charles. There was nothing I could have done to prevent it!
»Then why do you feel guilty?«
»I don't know. I am so confused. I have no control at all, Charles.«
»I will care for you, T'Pol.«
»Is all control an illusion, Charles? Have we absolutely no way to influence what happens around us? Why do things keep happening to us? Why can't we control our own lives?«
»I don't believe life is meant to be controlled, T'Pol.«
»But that cannot be right. There just has to be order somewhere. There simply has to be something you can rely on!«
»You can rely on me, T'Pol.«
For a moment, their minds were silent.
»I have realized what the significance of the calligraphy is, T'Pol. I know why we wear it.«
»Is that true?«
»Yes. We wear it because we hold on to each other, T'Pol. Even when it hurts.«
For a split second, Trip felt tiniest bit of mirth.
»You should have bet me a favor for this insight, Charles. You might have actually won.«
He knew she would be all right.
»I realize I have chosen exile. I cannot go back. I have changed.«
»If you could go back, would you want to?«
»I no longer know what the right path is. I realize there might not even be one. For the longest time I thought Serat and I were going the same path, Charles. Now I have learned that it has lead him to irrationality and violence.«
»Then you were not going the same path, T'Pol.«
»Were we not? Have I not defied the High Command like he did? Have I not chosen exile like he did? The turning points of our lives are identical, Charles.«
»You are an entirely different person than Serat is, T'Pol. You cannot assume that similar events in your lives mean that you will also become irrational and violent.«
»I am irrational in this very moment, Charles!«
»You are not irrational, T'Pol. You are emotional.«
»I don't see any difference.«
»There is a huge difference. Had Serat allowed himself to feel his emotions, it would have been impossible for him to threaten your life, T'Pol. He was your friend for over 60 years! It would have been impossible.«
»Then he would have used a different plan, Charles. I don't see the significance.«
»My point is: You should not assume that emotions will always influence your decisions for the worse. Serat could have never made this decision, had he listened to his emotions. They had influenced him for the better.«
»How do you know when to trust your emotions?«
»I don't know it, T'Pol. I feel it.«
»I don't know how to feel what is right or wrong, Charles. I only know logic.«
»Then perhaps you should listen to my advice from time to time, T'Pol.«
»I will start right after this one, Charles.«
»Suit yourself. Become irrational, if that's what you want.«
»Even if your advice does — against all expectations — not lead into irrationality, Charles, then it will certainly lead into mayhem.«
»Still better than violence.«
»So you see the logic?«
»I will consider your advice, Charles.«
This virus was very fascinating. Serat had determined that the specimen must have undergone several mutations from the original design. There was no telling how many generations had lead to this result. It was very unfortunate the original virus was lost. By comparing the original version with this one, a lot of insight could have been gathered. Clearly the mutations would affect the beings produced by the virus. Strictly speaking, the resulting species was no longer a Loque'eque. Although the genetic material was, of course, mostly identical to the Loque'eque, the variation was significant enough to speak of a new race. This virus itself had changed to become what it was now. And what was a microscopic change for the virus was a significant change for the species it produced. Wasn't that curious?
Serat appreciated the symbolism of this discovery. It was very fitting. Doctor Phlox would be interested in these results; if it was possible, Serat would see to it that he got the data.
There was, however, one side-effect of the mutation that was unfortunate for his plans. The virus had mutated specifically so that it would affect humans better. It was only logical, it was gathered from the infected crew members. He should have anticipated that. Serat was certain that the virus could still perform the transformation once it reached an Andorian host. The Andorians did not have the mechanisms the Vulcan immune system used to kill the virus. It would survive in its host and multiply.
But it could not spread.
This was a serious problem. Serat could infect an Andorian host, harvest the multiplied viruses, and use them to infect new hosts, but that was far too complicated. It was a prolonged operation. He might be able to short-cut the infection phase by introducing the virus into to the water supply, but this was very risky. The Andorians had sophisticated technology, the contamination might be discovered before the virus even reached the hosts.
The only way to infect the colony in a sufficiently short period of time was to have an infectious host. A human. The viruses that had multiplied in the human host were able to spread by air.
So the solution was to find a human host, infect him, and simply keep him near the colony for several hours. He would have to account for wind directions and other factors, but that wouldn't be a problem. He didn't need to infect everyone, several hundred Andorians would suffice.
So he would have to acquire an ENTERPRISE crew member.
It was a serious complication.
»We could contact the Andorian colony and warn them.«
»No, Charles. We don't know where it is. We don't even know whether there is a colony.«
»We will find his warp trail.«
»We have already lost his warp trail.«
»Maybe we'll be lucky?«
»I appreciate your effort, Charles. But denying the facts will not help.«
»How do you know we will not find him, T'Pol?«
»We are on a mission to prevent the destruction of Earth, Charles. We have no time to search for him. We have no trail. We have no idea what he plans to do. How could we possibly find him?«
»Don't be childish, Charles.«
»Archer to Commander Tucker.«
»Is Subcommander T'Pol with you?«
»I am here, Captain.«
»You should both come to the bridge. We have just had a blip on sensors, and it might have been the TALAR.«
The senior officers had assembled in the situation room.
»How certain are we, Subcommander?«
»The sensor data strongly suggests a vessel traveling at warp 3.3, Captain. It is very unlikely that a natural phenomenon could emit this kind of signature. The speed and size of the vessel would match the TALAR. So would the ship's position, if we assume it has been traveling at this speed ever since it left ENTERPRISE.«
»Any idea where it is headed?«
Travis answered that question: »If we extrapolate the course in a straight line, Captain, then the ship is headed for a planet near the outer rim of the Expanse.«
»Is the planet suitable for supporting humanoid life?«
»We cannot tell at this distance, Sir.«
»When will the ship reach the planet? How fast can we reach it?«
»At maximum warp we could reach it in 12 hours, Sir. Approximately 7 minutes after the TALAR would reach it.«
Archer considered the situation for a moment. It was a detour. But he could not stand back and do nothing.
Lieutenant Reed spoke: »Could we contact the colony? Warn them that Serat is coming?«
»This might not be a good idea, Lieutenant.« T'Pol answered. »If we inform the Andorians that the former Ambassador from Vulcan is headed for their colony with plans to attack them with biological warfare, they will certainly assume he was backed by the High Command. The diplomatic fallout could be significant. Significant enough to provoke hostilities.«
Trip said: »But at same point we will have no other choice, Subcommander. If we cannot stop him, then we must inform them.«
»Subcommander,« Captain Archer said, »how much time would Serat need to prepare once he has reached the colony? How fast can he unleash the virus?«
»Theoretically, he could set the virus free by using a transporting device. He could simply transport it into a suitably crowded place in the colony. It would take only seconds.«
»Great. Then we have no chance of stopping him at all, Subcommander.«
»Not necessarily, Captain. If the Andorian colony is in fact on that planet, the Andorians would certainly protect it with energy shielding. It would not be possible to transport anything in to or out of that colony directly. Neither can he simply approach the colony openly. He must reach the surface without being discovered. This also takes time.«
»Alright. Ensign Mayweather, set a course for the planet. Maximum warp.«
»Ensign Sato, you better prepare a communique for the Andorians. Just in case. Include all the medical data we have. Phlox can help you with that. Let T'Pol go through it once you have a draft.«
»Phlox, if Serat manages to release the virus, what would happen?«
»The virus is very aggressive, Captain. It spreads by air, infected hosts become infectious almost instantaneously … In a small colony where many people live in little space, it could affect the whole population within minutes.«
»Any chance the Andorians might be immune? Like Vulcans are?«
»No, Captain. I doubt they would be immune.«
»Can you manufacture the antidote in large quantities?«
»I could, Captain. But it wouldn't help. It is not sufficient to kill the virus in the host's body. The antidote is actually a true anti virus, because it has to reverse the transformation.«
»The anti virus must specifically match the virus in the host's body. The virus, however, mutates quite quickly. I need blood samples from the infected host before I can do anything. You know how difficult the healing process was, Captain.«
»So you cannot produce the anti virus in advance?«
»No. Neither can I cure a large number of people, Captain. I need to treat everyone individually.«
»Great.« Archer frowned. »So if the virus gets out, we cannot cure them?«
»No. Certainly not everyone.«
For a long moment they were all silent.
»Any other ideas what we could do?«
There was none.
»Then let's hope we can stop him before he reaches the surface.«
»Computer, power up the sensor distortion field.«
»Distortion field engaged.«
»Computer, go to maximum warp.«
Lieutenant Reed addressed the senior officers in the situation room.
»About half an hour ago we came into sensor range. We were able to get a few detailed scans of a large site on the planet. It has obviously been colonized.«
On the main screen, several images from the sensors were shown. Lieutenant Reed pointed at a large, circular blank spot in the image.
»This area of the surface appears to be protected by energy shielding, our sensors cannot penetrate it. Furthermore, the whole larger area seems to be protected by a second energy field, a distortion field. Had we not specifically scanned for the site, we would probably not have discovered it.«
Reed gave the others a moment to study to sensor data before he went on.
»The size of the blank spot suggests a colony with at least several thousand inhabitants. It might be fewer, but I doubt they would waste energy to shield ground that is uninhabited.«
»Lieutenant, how certain are you that the blank spot actually is a colony, and not a natural phenomenon?«
»We have found several spots in the larger area where cabins have been erected. Most of the spots seem to important for geological studies of the planet. It appears, the inhabitants have been studying the surroundings — perhaps in preparation of terra-forming the area.«
»Yes, Captain. Our sensors cannot pick up much detail through the energy field, but it looks like small wooden cabins meant to store technical equipment. Maybe they even provide living space for longer studies? They are spread all throughout the area.«
»How many are there?«
»Over 300, Captain. At least. Obviously the area is populated.«
»I agree. And one of these cabins would obviously be a perfect place to hide a small laboratory, where Serat could work and prepare for his strike.«
»Exactly my thoughts, Captain. With your permission, we would like to focus all sensors on mapping the area as accurately as possible.«
»Agreed, Lieutenant. Keep us informed on any progress you make.«
»We will reach the colony in 18 minutes, Captain.«
»Thank you, Travis.« He turned back to face the senior officers. »This means we will have to decide what to do, Lieutenant Reed.«
Reed answered: »I think we have something, Captain. The sensors picked up traces of several complex compounds in this valley. There is no indication of research activity going on at this particular spot — it is, however, ideal to land a shuttle pod in, because it's largely hidden from the main site. And the traces are very fresh …«
»You mean, Serat could have landed there?«
»Yes, Captain. There is one cabin north and one cabin south of the valley. Both are almost exactly 3 kilometers afar from the presumed landing site. He could have brought technical equipment into either of these cabins, and then would have returned to hide the shuttle.«
»Two cabins, and both are equally likely to be chosen?«
»Curious, isn't it?«
»That's why I thought.«
T'Pol simply remarked: »It would fit.«
»We could land with a shuttle pod at the same site and send out a team to either cabin, Captain. Even if he isn't there, maybe the virus is?«
Captain Archer thought about this plan for a moment. It was risky. Very risky. If something went wrong, then Earth would be drawn into this conflict. By going down on that planet, they became directly involved. Warning the Andorians, however, might achieve exactly the same outcome. It was a horrible dilemma.
»We will do it. That's a lot better than sitting here with our hands folded in our lap. Shuttlepod One can take five persons down … Trip, T'Pol, you are senior officers. You may pick the cabin you are going to investigate. Mister Reed and Mister Hayes will have to take the other one. Sorry, Gentlemen.«
»Don't worry, Captain.« said Hayes. Reed didn't even react to Archer's attempt at humor.
»Travis, you will fly the pod and stay with it on the surface. You'll make sure you get those four out of there as soon as something goes wrong, right?«
»Aye, Captain. I will.«
»Nothing will go wrong, Captain.« Trip reminded everybody.
T'Pol tried to calm Captain Archer down.
»We will be careful, Captain. You should not be concerned.«
»I have a bad feeling about this. Why don't you want to wear EV suits?«
»We can hardly move in EV suits, Captain. They would slow us down significantly.«
Travis' voice was heard from inside the shuttle: »We have to depart in 3 minutes, guys. Let's get inside.«
»T'Pol, you all are extremely careful down there, alright? At even the slightest hint of trouble I want to know about it. And I want you to retreat and come back.«
Archer took a step back and watched his senior officers disappear in the shuttle pod. He hated the fact that he could not go down there, but his shoulder had not recovered yet. It would have been foolish. Now his friends would do it. And he would have to sit up here and hide from the Andorian sensors. Great. He knew he wouldn't rest for a second until they were back on the ship.
T'Pol stepped out of the shuttle pod first. She looked around on the planet. It looked bleak. The green-brownish wetland was comfortless for the eye. Despite the abundance of water, the vegetation was sparse. The air seemed to be gray, because the force fields protecting the colony interfered with the sunlight. The winds were harsh and cold. It was no inviting place. Certainly not for a Vulcan.
She forced her thoughts into order. She needed to be focused now.
»Gentlemen, we meet back here in one hour. Unless either party makes a significant discovery, we will keep radio silence. If you do spot Serat, do not approach him, do not engage him, but inform the Captain. Understood?«
»Aye, Subcommander.« Reed and Hayes replied almost with one voice. The two men put the straps attached to their flamethrowers over their shoulders, turned, and began to march into the north.
T'Pol turned to Trip. We was still checking his flamethrower, to make sure it wouldn't malfunction. Before that, he had checked hers too.
T'Pol stopped marching immediately and turned to Trip. »What's the matter?«
»Nothing. Just got caught in some branches. I was in thoughts and—«
A massive flash of fear interrupted him in mid-sentence.
T'Pol looked at Trip and realized she had seen this picture before. The way his trousers were dirty from walking in the wetland, the way his shirt was torn, the exhausted expression on his face … And then she looked down at herself and saw the flamethrower she was carrying.
»No, T'Pol, don't give in to fear! Please, calm down.«
But she could not calm down. He would die!
»T'Pol, listen to me. Fear is no good. It won't help you nor me, it will only paralyze you. Do not be afraid!«
»I have seen this before, Charles. I have had a nightmare about this happen—«
»T'Pol. Listen to yourself. Just forget it. It's coincidence. Come here.«
They took a few steps towards another and he embraced her carefully with one arm.
»We will get through this together, T'Pol. And we will get out of it together too. Don't be afraid. I will care for you, I promise.«
And for a second he could see her smile under the surface.
»It's much more likely that I will have to care for you, Charles. I am the secret agent after all.«
»So you will take care of me? You promise?«
All playfulness had left T'Pol's voice.
Then they turned and resumed their march to the southern cabin.
It began to rain in tiny drops.
The cabin had been entered recently. T'Pol could see trails in the mud where the door had been opened. But the windows were dark, nobody seemed to be in there. She gestured for Charles to follow her. She directed their approach to the cabin so that they arrived in a blind angle to the windows.
They pressed their backs flat against the walls as they approached one of the windows from the side. T'Pol moved carefully and looked into the room. It was empty. There was nothing in there.
She stopped for a moment, then spoke softly to Charles.
»It is empty.«
»Let's look inside.«
They continued their way along the wall to the entrance and found the door unlocked. T'Pol opened it, peered into the room, and then walked inside. It was empty. Charles followed her into the room. He heard a strange noise and his world blurred out of focus.
T'Pol also heard the noise. She spun around only to see Charles disappear in a transporter beam. Then he was gone.
T'Pol immediately saw the device that was attached to the top of the door frame. They had ran into a trap!
Why wasn't she transported away? Why Charles?
Serat had nothing more to do but to wait for the human to appear. He would have preferred to have some monitoring equipment in place, but he had found the risk of discovery to be too great. Fortunately there was ample opportunity to keep the mind occupied. He had looked into the human physiology, naturally, and he had learned a lot.
With a swoosh a human figure materialized in his cabin, tumbled, and fell unconscious. It had worked. Serat got up from his desk to take a look at the human. It was the most curious coincidence, he thought. Commander Tucker. How incredible.
He began to prepare him for the necessary injections.
Reed was amazed how focused T'Pol sounded through the communicator. After what she had told him, he would have expected her to sound concerned! But her mind seemed to work perfectly clear. It was amazing.
»No, Subcommander. We have found the cabin empty. Hayes is checking the door frame again just now, but we discovered nothing unusual.«
»This was a trap, Lieutenant. Serat needed a Human. Not a Vulcan — a Human. It is obviously related to the virus. He needs a host. And now he has one.«
He had Trip! Not a host.
»What are we going to do, Subcommander?«
»The range of the device is less than 20 kilometers. Check out potential target sites in the vicinity, Lieutenant. I will do the same here. We will invest one hour to find Commander Tucker. Then we must retreat.«
»We will hurry, Subcommander.«
Serat wondered how best to proceed. The Human's body would begin to produce viruses in approximately 2 minutes. Then he would need another injection to inhibit the transformation process. He did not want T'Pol's chosen one to turn into a Loque'eque. She would not appreciate it, it would be unpolite.
The additional injections would make the Commander weak. He would need to rest at least half an hour. It was a serious complication. Serat calculated the odds of discovery in his head. They were significant. Once more he looked at the sleeping Human.
He would wait. The Human was very important for T'Pol. Once his physiology had had time to recover, he could walk him to the spot he had found to be the most efficient for having the virus spread into the colony. He should even be able to observe successes from this spot. If the wind directions changed, then he would have to improvise. Obviously, there was always the alternative of actually entering the colony. There was a popular market place on this side. But Serat preferred not to enter it. Once a certain number of Andorians had been transformed, the situation in there would become unstable.
Serat began to prepare the second injection.
T'Pol realized that she would never find Charles by searching the cabins in the vicinity methodically. Serat knew that they would search for him. He would move, he would disappear. Either she found him right away, or she would not find him at all.
There were 8 potential targets. Serat and Charles could be in any one of those cabins — or they could be somewhere altogether different. She had no idea.
She realized that logic could not help her make this decision.
So she closed her eyes and looked at the map of the area in her mind. She studied the map for the hundredth time. And then she followed an impulse, picked one cabin, opened her eyes, and began to sprint into its direction. She carried the flamethrower with one hand as if it weighed nothing.
She ran the 16.2 kilometers with inhuman speed.
»Greetings, Commander Tucker.«
Charles was disoriented and weak. He sat up on the pallet he was lying on and tried to compose himself. What had happened?
»Don't be alarmed, Commander. You will feel weak because of the medication I gave you. But you are not in danger.«
»What are you doing? What am I doing here?«
»I need your assistance, Commander. The assistance of your human physiology, to be accurate.«
Trip looked around in the room. His mind was numb, but he realized immediately that he would need a weapon if he wanted to overpower the Vulcan. He wondered where his flamethrower was.
»Commander, it makes no difference for me whether your are conscious or not. But stunning you …« He made sure Trip saw the phaser he had attached to his belt. »… would endanger your health in this state. If you force me, however, I will not hesitate. Please do not do anything illogical.«
Trip leaned his back against the wall and massaged his temples.
»You plan to kill thousands of people and tell me not to do anything illogical, Serat? You must be joking.«
»I am not killing anyone, Commander. I merely bring change.«
»That's bullshit, Serat. Once you've released the virus, the infected individuals cease to exist. You killed them.«
»This is a very subjective assessment, Commander. The individuals do not cease to exist. They simply exist in a different state.«
»A state in which the original individual is gone, Serat.«
»No, Commander. The result of the transformation is still an individual, only a different one.«
»That's semantics, Serat. That doesn't make your decision to interfere with their lives any less like murder.«
»You may perceive it as murder, Commander. But I do not. They will live on.«
»The act of killing is not something you can perceive this way or another way, Serat. It is a fact.«
»The Vulcan High-Command has been offered a treatment for the Pa'nar Syndrome repeatedly, Commander Tucker. That is a fatal disease I have contracted. But they chose to ignore the offer — for completely bizarre and illogical reasons. As a result, my illness has not been treated and I will die shortly, even though I could have lived. Is this murder, Commander?«
»So this is what this is all about? You want your revenge?«
»Please consider my question, Commander. Is it murder to withhold medication and treatment from a citizen of your society?«
»It may be wrong, but it is definitely not murder, Serat.«
»Is it not? The Andorians will live on as Loque'eque. I, however, will not live on. I will die. Even though I could have lived for another century or more. And this is the direct result of the High Commands actions.«
»Even if the High Command has murdered you — and I find the idea absurd, honestly — it still doesn't justify the crime you are about to commit, Serat.«
»I don't mean to justify my actions, Commander. I merely wished to illustrate that the concept of killing a being is not as simple and straightforward to interpret as you make it sound.«
»How about the consequences of your little plan here? I understand that this incident may lead to war, Serat. Does this not involve people being killed?«
»It does, but I am not the one responsible for that, Commander.«
»Of course you are! You are making it happen with what you are doing right now.«
»Commander, I trigger change. Nothing more, nothing less. The decision of whether a war will be fought because of this is made by different people. It is not my decision.«
»Commander, you seem to believe that my actions are what is causing the war. But that is not accurate. Andorians and Vulcans have been preparing for this war for decades. They have steered towards war ever since the first colony dispute. I am not responsible for the abundance of weapons they have built and are now itching to use. I am not responsible for the spy arrays they have constructed as a poor replacement for dialogue.«
»So war would really have happened anyway and you just speed things up, right? That is what you are saying?«
»No, Commander. I am saying that the Vulcan society is in a horrible state. The High Command has reached a point where building weapons to destroy others is more important than caring about the welfare of its own citizens. It is not just the problem of withholding medication for the Pa'nar Syndrome, Commander. Just think of all the lives that have been lost in pointless border disputes! This is fundamentally wrong. It is a breach of contract between society and the individual. The individual gives up rights to be part of society so that he or she is taken care of. If society no longer cares, then there is no point in belonging to a society.«
»This is mad, Serat.«
»No, it is logic, Commander. You were right, war is inevitable. The Vulcan High-Command seems to crave it. Why else would they build so many weapons? There must be change, or my species may not survive.«
»This insane act will not help your species survive, Serat.«
»How do you know? Have not all great achievements of peace been preceded by great wars? Is it not the same with Human history?«
»That doesn't mean war is the only way to achieve peace.«
»My concern is not war, Commander. My concern is changing a society that threatens to become fascist. My insane act, as you put it, is only the logical consequence of the situation I am in. I have no other choice.«
»You could choose not to release the virus, Serat.«
»How would that help the Vulcan people?«
»For starters, it would help avoiding a war right now.«
»Would it? Or wouldn't it rather help keeping a system in power that steers into war?«
Trip threw his hands up in frustration.
»Let me ask you another question, Serat. Do you realize how much you have hurt T'Pol?«
»I am doing this for T'Pol, Commander. I have no chance of seeing a better Vulcan in my lifetime, but she has.«
»You have put a phaser to her head for her benefit?«
»I bring change for her benefit. And for the benefit of others, Commander. I crave a society that treats Pa'nar Syndrome rather than building weapons.«
Serat studied the Human. Clearly he did not understand him. He wondered whether the Human even knew T'Pol had contracted the Pa'nar Syndrome too. But if he did not, then it was not his place to tell him.
»I wish I could explain my reasons better, Commander. I wish you would see the logic, so that you could help T'Pol understand it. It would help her control her emotions regarding my choice. I do not wish to hurt her.«
»Perhaps the reason why you cannot explain yourself, Serat, is that your actions don't make any sense?«
»No, Commander. The reason is that I have needed all my life to make those deductions. I have vastly different knowledge and experiences than you have. It would need far more time than a few hours to explain everything to you.«
»I am all ears.«
»We do not have the time. As a matter of fact …« Serat turned and picked up a hypospray from his desk. »… it is time for another injection. Would you please take this, Commander?«
»Commander, this hypospray contains a chemical compound that will inhibit the transformation process. T'Pol would not wish you to turn into a Loque'eque. It does, however, not make any difference for my plans. So you may decide what you prefer.«
Trip looked at the offered hypospray and thought about it. He would not assist Serat in any way. But if Serat was telling the truth, then refusing the injection would not help either. He had no chance of overpowering him if he turned into a Loque'eque.
And, to be perfectly honest, he was also afraid of it.
So he took the hypospray, placed it on the side of his neck, and pressed the button that would trigger the injection. He heard a soft swoosh. Then his lids grew heavy.
Serat looked at the sleeping human. He looked peaceful. Serat wondered whether it would be best to carry him to the target location, rather than walking with him. He appeared to be determined to interfere with his plans. Besides, he could not wait much longer, and the Commander would probably not regain consciousness for—
»Please move away from Charles, Serat.«
He blinked. Was this possible? He turned his head, looked back over his shoulder and saw T'Pol. She was thoroughly soaked and dirty from running through the wetland. Her uniform was covered in mud, as were her hands and face. Her wet hair clung to her head. She was carrying a flamethrower.
He assessed his options. T'Pol would not allow him to proceed. It was obvious. All possible solutions to continue his plan nonetheless involved hurting her.
Hurting T'Pol was not an option. He had failed.
A powerful weight fell off Serat. He could not explain it, but suddenly he felt free. He could not control the emotion because he couldn't comprehend it: T'Pol had spoiled his plans, ruined his life's final achievement, yet he was happy to see her.
»He merely sleeps, T'Pol. Please be careful with that weapon. If you fire it in the room, you will necessarily hurt your chosen one. I will not resist. Let us go outside.«
T'Pol looked at him for a moment. She appeared to be uncertain what to do. But then logic got the upper hand and she lowered the weapon, turned around, and walked outside. Serat followed her.
In silence they walked a few meters away from the cabin, into the wetland. The wind blew into their faces as they walked, it was an eerie atmosphere. The world was silent except for the wind and the rain. At no point in particular they simply stopped walking and stood there for a moment longer.
»How did you find me, T'Pol?«
»I beg your pardon?«
»I simply picked the cabin I would have chosen, Serat. I had no idea where you were.«
Serat looked at her with open astonishment. This was one of the most outrageous ideas he had ever heard.
Clearly it had worked. Amazing! He wished he would have more time to discuss this matter with T'Pol. It appeared, she had begun to use intuitive thought processes, like the Humans did. If that were true, then she had transcended logic! It was very remarkable.
Serat realized that T'Pol had truly grown ever since he saw her the last time. She had changed. He found comfort in this thought.
»While studying the human physiology, T'Pol, I have made an interesting discovery. I am certain Humans and Vulcans can reproduce.««
»Is that true?«
»There is no indication the genoms would be incompatible, T'Pol. It might very well be possible that you could conceive naturally. With medical assistance, it will definitely be possible.«
T'Pol thought about this information for a while.
»You and Commander Tucker are able to bring change, T'Pol. You can find entirely new combinations, you can bring new diversity into the universe. Literally.«
»By having a child?«
»Yes. Isn't that wonderfully obvious? I realize your path is better than mine, T'Pol. And the thought gives me an odd sense of satisfaction. You will succeed where I have failed.«
Once more they were silent. Serat looked at his childhood friend. He wondered what he should do now. Going back to Vulcan was not an option. He only had a few more months to live, there was little he could achieve with this time if he was captured and imprisoned now. He realized, he had no choice. He would have to complete this path now and here.
So he reached for the phaser on his belt.
»What are you doing, Serat?«
»I will terminate my life now, T'Pol. I have no other choice.«
»That doesn't make any sense, Serat. Suicide is illogical.«
»No, T'Pol. Suicide is the narcistic victory of the subject over its environment. It is logical for the subject.«
T'Pol looked at her childhood friend. She did not want him to die. But what was the alternative? She could not stop him. She had no answers for him. What could she possibly say to change his mind?
She him saw raise his right hand in the traditional Vulcan greeting.
»Live long and prosper, Agent T'Pol. For the Greater Good of Vulcan.«
And T'Pol realized she had no choice. She would respect his. She raised her left hand to return the gesture.
»For Vulcan, Agent Serat.«
For almost a minute they stood there perfectly still. They defied the heavy winds with their wills. Finally Serat lowered his right hand, took the phaser in it, placed it at his own chest, and fired. He was dead instantaneously.
T'Pol activated her weapon and used it to burn his lifeless remains. Then she stepped back and observed how the wind carried his ashes away. She watched the wind spread his ashes over the wetland of the alien world. She fought hard to suppress her sadness.
She turned her head towards the entrance of the cabin. Charles had awakened! He stumbled through the door and out into the open.
»Charles! Are you all right?«
Then he stopped.
»I am infectious, T'Pol.«
T'Pol looked at him blankly while her mind tried to understand what he had told her. A strange energy built up inside of her while her brain wrestled with the implications. Slowly, very slowly the meaning became clear, and then her whole world exploded into one single painful thought: »NO!«
She broke into sweat immediately. With barely controlled panic she handled the flamethrower to free her hand, so that she could get the communicator. She flicked it open, activated it, and practically yelled into the device.
»T'Pol to ENTERPRISE, transport Doctor Phlox down with the antidote immediately!«
Lieutenant Reed answered after a short moment.
»Subcommander, the colony is protected by an energy shield. We cannot transport anything down. You know that.«
She simply dropped the communicator to the ground when her world exploded again: »NO! NO!«
Even at the distance Trip could feel powerful flashes of pain from T'Pol. They were so intense that he became disoriented again. He had almost lost his balance and collapsed, but then the pain subsided. And T'Pol's presence subsided along with the pain.
Then came the real pain: He missed T'Pol.
The effort it had required to suppress these emotions could only be described as inhuman. T'Pol knew she had to make a decision. And she would have to make it now, because she was certain she would lose consciousness soon.
The facts. Commander Tucker was infectious. His body produced probably thousands of viruses per minute and released them. These viruses could survive in the air for a prolonged period of time. Would one single virus find an Andorian host, it would infect him and reproduce. And then it would spread again. If Charles infected one other being on this planet, it could wipe out the entire colony.
Any incident would necessarily have serious repercussions for the relations between Vulcan and Andoria. Which meant almost certainly war. Thousands of colonists would die here today, and millions of Vulcans and Andorians would follow because of it.
There was only one logical conclusion.
T'Pol aimed the flamethrower at Charles.
Trip looked at her. It broke his heart how she felt. He didn't need any telepathic links or mind melds to see it. He could see it in her eyes. It was the most unsettling sight he had ever looked upon. He realized that this might be the decision that would break her. This might be the event that would push her over the edge.
He closed his eyes. Would she decide against her logic, against everything she knew was right, then she would never be the same again. This wound would never heal.
He would simply do what he had always done to comfort her: He would tell her that her he loved her.
»Do it, T'Pol. You have no other choice.«
When she heard his voice, T'Pol realized it was impossible. It was absolutely impossible!
He opened his eyes again and looked at her. Her eyes were unfocused now. Then she blinked forcefully — and suddenly snapped into action. She knelt down and picked up the communicator from where she had dropped it. She once more yelled her words into it at first, but slowly calmed herself as she went on.
»Archer here. What is goin—«
»Captain, Serat is dead. It is imperative that the mission team leaves the surface immediately. Commander Tucker is infectious, so he and I will need different means of transportation than Lieutenant Reed and Major Hayes. I advice you to contact the Andorians and inform them of the situation. The environment here has been contaminated, Captain, and should be subjected to orbital bombardment. If the Andorians lack the necessary means, ENTERPRISE could perform it.«
For a long moment, there was no reply. Obviously Archer had to recover first, before he could fathom all this.
»We will send Shuttlepod Two down to pick you up, Subcommander.«
»Acknowledged. T'Pol out.«
She switched the communicator off and just stood there.
Trip had no idea what to say. He was too perplexed to even feel relief.
»I don't understand, T'Pol?«
»I have no other choice, Charles. I have promised to care for you. I cannot break my promise. It is impossible!«
They simply stood there and looked at another. In silence they waited for the shuttle to arrive.
T'Pol decided it would be necessary to find a moment of calm. She had to reflect on the past events. She entered the Mess Hall and found a free table near the window. She turned the chair slightly and sat down. She looked at the stars.
Three Andorians had been infected and had mutated into Loque'eque. They had been working in one of the other cabins near the site. The wind must have blown the virus into their direction. But by sheer luck they had not infected anyone else.
T'Pol refused the concept of luck as a matter of principle. It was ridiculous to assume such a thing existed. It was chance. But still …
Doctor Phlox had treated the infected Andorians successfully, and that had calmed everybody's nerves. Not so much, though, that the Andorians wouldn't have demanded a very thorough explanation. They had given them every bit of data, all the medical research, all the information they would ever want. Except for one thing: The identity of the terrorist.
For all the Andorians knew, it had been a Xindi. Captain Archer had not been enthusiastic about covering up for the Vulcan High-Command, so to speak. But he had done it. He had lied. Eventually the Andorians actually thanked the ENTERPRISE crew for their help and expressed hope that they could return the favor and help deal with the Xindi. But the promised favor came with a bitter taste and the ENTERPRISE crew had just wanted to leave and get back on the mission.
The following days had been difficult. Especially for her. She had made her choice. She had chosen the path she would walk. She would walk the path together with Charles. And in all the madness and all the chaos this thought shone like a guiding light to her.
»Excuse me, Subcommander. Do you mind if I join you?«
»Of course not, Lieutenant Hess. Please, sit down.«
»I understand Captain Serat was a close friend of yours, Subcommander? I wanted to say how sorry I was to hear what has happened to him.«
»I appreciate your empathy, Lieutenant.«
And T'Pol really did. She hardly knew this woman, yet the Human had approached her and had expressed sympathy for her. This had never happened before! The thought was strangely comforting. Something had changed.
»Subcommander, may I ask you a private question?«
»Of course, Lieutenant.«
»I was wondering about … your culture teaches you to suppress your emotions. Is that right?«
»I really hope I am not overstepping any boundaries by asking this …«
»Simply ask, Lieutenant. I will not feel offended, will I?«
For a split second, Jennifer Hess thought T'Pol had grinned at her.
»Right.« Now that the Subcommander had said it, it was rather obvious, actually. »What I mean is: doesn't suppressing your emotions conflict with a romantic relationship with Commander Tucker? Doesn't that necessarily involve feeling emotions?«
»Then how is it possible?«
»I allow myself to feel emotions for Commander Tucker. I simply chose to give up that part of my control.«
»But you still control your other feelings?«
»Yes. It has become more difficult, unfortunately. By allowing myself to feel any one of the emotions I experience, I become more … receptive to all of them.«
»You have suppressed your emotions all your life before you and Trip got together?«
»Wow. I really mean, wow. That must have been a very difficult decision to make!«
»It was, Lieutenant. It still is. But I know it is the right choice. My emotions for Commander Tucker influence me for the better.«
Lieutenant Hess looked at the Vulcan women for a moment. It turned out, T'Pol was completely different than she had expected!
»Subcommander, talking to you now makes me realize that I owe you an apology.«
»Until a minute ago, I had never understood how many of my ideas about Vulcans are based on prejudice. For the longest time I had assumed Vulcans had no emotions at all! I am really ashamed of myself that I lived on the same ship with you for so long and never realized my mistake.«
»You thought Vulcans had no emotions?«
»Yes! Isn't that ridiculous? I am really sorry, Subcommander.«
»There is no need to apologize, Lieutenant.«
»Yes, there is. Many of us have treated you as if you had no emotions. And I am sorry about that.«
»The prejudice was mutual, Lieutenant. I came aboard this ship and thought of Humans as undisciplined children. I assumed I was here to supervise your species. Only later did I realize that there is much to be learned from Humanity. So if you feel the need to apologize, I must apologize as well.«
Both women looked at each other for a silent moment. In two years, this was the first time they had ever talked — except for ship's business. Now they both suddenly wondered why that was.
Lieutenant Hess extended her hand towards T'Pol.
»I would like to start over, Subcommander. My name is Jennifer.«
T'Pol took the offered hand and shook it.
»I am T'Pol.«
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
Very good! I really liked the conversation at the end. Thanks and keep up the good work!
Amazing as usual! I'm loving this cycle. :D
Freshing and exciting! Can't wait for the story to continue!
very well done, interesting story:-)
I am so glad that T'Pol didn't burn Trip to a crisp! I almost feel sorry for Serat, so blinded by his own conviction he could not see how wrong it was. Loved Trip trying to explain to him even though it made no difference, so like him to try. The part about prejudice at the end was good too. Ali D :~)
I admit,that this is a good end to TGG2. But I´m still not soooo happy with the "overall-turn" of the series. And I still got difficulties with the Serat of part 1 and the Serat of part 2/3. That´s like a whole different person.
D'ya think Vaux would have been happier if we'd carried on calling him Bob? Bobs can always turn evil without suprising anyone!-)
Ah, no! "Bob" would NOT change my mind... ;-)))
Agent Bob? That would have been something. Why didn't you think earlier of that, Clicks? :-)
Vaux, I'm sorry you didn't like the, well, »overall turn«. TGG certainly reads different than the other parts, but I thought that the story was important because it shows Trip care for T'Pol -- so it mirrors the first part, »Healing the Mind«, in which T'Pol cares for Trip. I thought that the story of Bob, er, Serat also shows an important development for her character and for the relationship as a whole. I personally am quite fond of TGG, particularly of the first few scenes where T'Pol is slightly hysterical.
But the good news is that the next part of the series, »Chosen Minds«, will be completely different. :-)
Peter, I loved everything from the first line of "Healing the Mind" to the last line of TGG1!!! I´ve just got my problems with part 2 and 3 of TGG. Sooo, but that´s over now and I´m very glad that there´s already another part waiting for us!!!! "Chosen Minds" and "completely different"?! I´m looking forward to read it!!!
Awww... she's gonna make a girlfriend! Yay!
just read all stories. please is there a new chapter of this story??
Happy new year!
I can only comment on part 1, but I LOL the whole way through (very quietly I hope) since I'm at work. Its fun to read these at lunch. Good thing I have my own office. WAY TOO FUNNY.
Belatedly, I fininshed parts 2 and 3. Well that story was different! I appreciated the adventure and the philosophical discussions between the villan and the heros--very Star Trek. An imaginative plot. Liked the dream, which starts to come true and hightens the drama at the end.