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By Samantha Quinn
All disclaimers in part 1
Down Came the Rain . . .
A/N: I’m sorry if the movie bit confuses you. But I wanted to work in movie night, and couldn’t think of a good existing movie, so I made one up. ;) If you’ve never seen Stargate, just know that Jack O’Neill is the Captain-like figure and Dr. Jackson is his buddy, who dies a lot.
If Sumarek had been human, he would have frowned at the vision on the screen in front of him. Although his Vulcan reserve may have prevented him from doing so, it did not prevent him from furrowing his brows. “I do not understand how this is possible,” he stated finally, after a brief pause to express his incredulity.
Ventik nodded once in agreement. “Nor do I. Regardless, the human has contacted the same condition as the former Ambassador Soval.”
Sumarek drew his hands up to a point under his chin thoughtfully as he contemplated this unexpected turn of events. “While the event is unexpected, I am uncertain why you are bringing it to my attention. I would not have pictured Soval picking a human male to copulate with; however, his condition is known to present unexpected results.”
“I would not have contacted you if Soval’s condition had been relieved in a typical manner,” Ventik replied. His youth and lack of control showed somewhat, as his voice was elevated slightly in indignation.
Sumarek overlooked the doctor’s lapse. “There is evidence of the act being non-consensual?” he inquired.
“There is no evidence of any sexual act between Commander Tucker and Ambassador Soval,” Ventik answered.
Years of Vulcan training helped Sumarek suppress the urge to sigh in frustration. “How then you suppose he has contacted the condition?” he asked.
Ventik paused. “You have heard of Selak, have you not?”
Recalling his meeting with Soval and the doctors who had first discovered T’Pol’s illness, Sumarek nodded. “Yes. Are you presuming that Ambassador Soval is engaging in melding activities?” Sumarek questioned.
Ventik arched an eyebrow. “I have no other logical conclusion,” he replied.
“Very well. I shall take your word under advisement. Is there any medical evidence you can supply?” Sumarek wondered.
Again, Ventik betrayed his lack of training when he answered with more than a bit of irritation. “Given that melds are prohibited, we have no medical means of identifying them, outside of an instance of Pa’Nar Syndrome.” Gaining his composure, Ventik continued, “Also, you should be advised that I have checked the communication logs sent from our ship. It appears that Ambassador V’Lar has sent an inordinate amount of communication to our homeworld.”
“Ambassador V’Lar is in charge of peace negotiations. It is only natural that she-“
“Two of her communications have been to Captain Skon. Skon is not affiliated with the Vulcan High Command and has no relevant contribution to the proceedings,” Ventik pointed out. “It may be of no consequence. However, I would be remiss by not mentioning it to you.”
Nodding his approval, Sumarek thanked the younger Vulcan. “I appreciate your efforts, Doctor. Keep me informed.”
“I will. Ventik out.”
After closing the connection, Sumarek contemplated his next move for only a moment before reaching for the intercom. Hailing his receptionist, Sumarek requested the presence of Security Headquarter’s chief computer analyst. He was, after all, the best Vulcan for the job of decoding encrypted messages. And Sumarek had no doubt that V’Lar’s messages to Skon were
The mood of Archer’s ship was decidedly maudlin. Missing two of the senior officers had definitely hurt the ship’s morale. Never was this more obvious than on the ship’s designated movie night.
The Captain attended-he had the obligation to his ship to put up a good front. Just as he tried to lead his crew into battle assuredly, he tried in vain to lead their spirits into the realm of happiness.
He was less successful than the infamous baby gazelle.
It was certainly partially the movie’s fault. Made in 2008, “Stargate: SG-1 Reunited” had been one of the most successful science fiction motion pictures of the early twenty-first century. Normally, Archer would have loved this movie, as it held all the crucial elements of a good film, in his estimation: the dialogue was witty, the plot was action packed, and the characters’ chemistry was palatable.
Tonight, however, the characters’ personalities and interactions bothered him more than he could handle. Tonight, Sg-1’s alien, Teal’C, reminded Archer a little too much of his former first officer. Tonight, the friendship between SG-1’s Daniel Jackson and Jack O’Neill reminded Archer a little too much of the man lying in sickbay.
Archer forced himself to stay, but he ignored the movie as it hit entirely too close to home. Instead, he focused on his crew, most of whom were paying close attention to the film. It was a full house tonight, as it tended to be on science fiction nights. Regardless of the crew’s attention, however, a heavy cloud of gloom lingered in the air. It had been four days since T’Pol had left, three days since Trip’s “treatment” had arrived from the Vulcan ship, and almost a week since Trip had taken ill. The effect of the personnel changes was definitely taking its toll on the crew; which is why Archer forced himself to stay put in a movie that was depressing him so utterly and thoroughly.
“Jack, hold on, Carter’s almost got the gate open. You’re going to make it,” Daniel Jackson promised his friend.
“Nah. . . d-don’t t-t-think so,” the wounded and bleeding Jack O’Neill replied. “Think I-I’m a goner, D-Daniel.”
Daniel allowed a sob to escape as he pressed harder on O’Neill’s wound, trying in vain to stop the blood flow which only seemed to increase with every second. “Hurry up, Carter!” he snapped in frustration. Distantly, both men heard Samantha Carter’s reply: the gate was stuck.
Hysteria gripped Daniel. He barely heard Carter’s explanation as to how or why it was stuck. Miraculously, O’Neill managed a soft chuckle. Blood dribbled from the corner of his mouth as he whispered, “L-look on the bright s-side, D-danny boy. I d-didn’t have to w-watch y-you die. . . again. C-couldn’t.”
That was all. There was no more, as the commanding officer of SG-1 was gone.
So was Archer. He fled the room to the safety of his quarters. It would do him no good to go back to sickbay, where he had already been earlier that day. Phlox would only send him away again, as he had before. Dropping himself onto his bed, his gaze fell upon a book laying on the table beside him. As Porthos jumped up onto the bed next to him, Archer reached for the book. The Complete Teachings of Surak. Translated by Skon. Competing pieces of Archer felt humiliated and angered. As if channeling his master’s emotions, Porthos gave a pitiful whine and flopped his head down on his paws.
“I couldn’t have said it better myself, Porthos,” Archer remarked, rubbing the dog’s ears absently.
Sumarek glanced over the PADD containing the unencrypted messages from Ambassador V’Lar. On the surface, they were hardly incriminatory. They spoke simply of Commander Tucker’s illness. The Ambassador had been careful not to allow mention of illicit activity, either suspected or otherwise. Nonetheless, her very messages were suspect, as there was no reason for the Ambassador to be contacting Skon.
As Sumarek contemplated his next course of action, his gaze fell upon the chess set in the corner of his office. Recalling the last time V’Lar had been in the office, Sumarek allowed the Vulcan equivalent of a smirk as he remembered her decided interest in the melding proceedings. Had she truly believed he would not understand the reasoning for her questions? Then, V’Lar had simply been playing him in the same fashion that a competent player plays chess. She had anticipated the opponent’s move by conversing with him. And now she was adding an offensive move of her own by contacting Skon.
Ah, yes, Skon the revered. Skon and T’Pau’s presence in the melder movement was a large reason for the current hesitation in the prosecution of melders on Vulcan. Both Skon and T’Pau were highly respected. Their prosecutions would certainly shake Vulcan society to its core. Yet, they were clearly engaging in illegal activities, as melders. Had they been any other Vulcan, from any other Vulcan family, they would have been banished from the planet. *Where is the logic in favoritism?* Sumarek thought wryly. *Still, their increasing influence in our culture is an laudable achievement.*
The decision of what to do next laid entirely with Sumarek, as head of the security council. With a secondary glance at the chess set, he decided to take a cue from Ambassador V’Lar and treat the delicate matter with the same fashion as he would approach a chess game. A very essential chess game. The defensive strategy had been attended to, of course, with the interception of V’Lar’s transmissions. It was now up to Sumarek to provide an appropriate offensive measure.
Reaching for his computer console, Sumarek contacted his most reliable agent within the melder movement to inform him of his latest assignment. Given the personal nature of the quest, Sumarek approached the call with some trepidation.
The agent of espionage did not disappoint his superior. “I am not pleased with this development,” he informed Sumarek. “However, I do understand the purpose of such an mission. I shall do my best.”
The lights came on abruptly as the credits rolled to the movie. Malcolm noted with little surprise that the woman beside him did not have dry eyes. Having heard in advance of the potentially depressing movie end, Reed had come prepared. He withdrew the handkerchief from his pocket and handed it quite graciously to Hoshi.
“Thank you,” she managed between sniffles. “That was so sad. I don’t know how you managed to get through the movie without crying.”
Malcolm shook his head. “I just didn’t find it very sad, I’m afraid.”
Hoshi stared at him incredulously. “How could you not find it sad? Jack got shot and Teal’C was tortured and killed by his own son.”
“Yes,” Malcolm conceded. “However, both General O’Neill and Teal’C were soldiers. They died in a manner befitting of profession. Both died so that their teammate could live. In O’Neill’s case, Daniel Jackson. In Teal’C’s case, Samantha Carter.”
Hoshi sighed. “I know, Malcolm. But it’s still depressing.”
Malcolm would not be swayed. “Not if it’s how they wished to go.” At Hoshi’s doubtful glance, he continued, “Spartan mothers had a phrase they would tell their sons before they went off to war: ‘Come back with your shield or on it.’ Meaning, if it comes down to throwing down your shield and running to save your life, don’t do it. Stay there in battle and die rather than fail your duty.”
Hoshi looked horrified. “That’s an awful thing to say to your child! How would throwing down your shield save your life, anyway?”
Malcolm shrugged. “Less weight,” he replied effortlessly.
“You know if T’Pol was here, she’d point out that Spartan culture was a barbaric, illogical society that was destined to fail,” Hoshi lamented.
“Yes, and if Trip were here, he would be certain to point out the pessimistic nature of the society,” Malcolm agreed.
There was a moment of silence as the two crewmembers silently mourned their friends. Finally Hoshi said what was obvious to them both, “I miss them.”
“I do too,” Malcolm conceded.
“We aren’t even updated on how they’re doing,” Hoshi added. “I mean, T’Pol just heads off to Vulcan and there’s no sign if she’s dead or alive. . .” Hoshi’s voice cracked on the final syllable of ‘alive.’
Malcolm finished the sentiment. “And we aren’t allowed to visit Trip at all in sickbay.” He sighed, running an hand through his hair in frustration.
“Everything will work out in the end,” Hoshi assured him, hollowly. At Malcolm’s look she added, “It has to.”
Nodding, and not wanting to dwell on the subject, Malcolm switched gears. “I have a scheduled meeting in the gym with Travis in twenty minutes. In the meantime, I’d be happy to walk you back to your quarters.”
Hoshi smiled brightly for the first time all night. “That sounds wonderful. Why do you have a meeting with Travis?” she asked.
“I’ve been practicing some of the martial arts skills T’Pol taught me before she left. I require a partner,” Malcolm responded.
T’Pol had recovered significantly from her earlier bout of unconsciousness and was well enough to attend the meeting of the melders being held in the home of Skon and his wife, T’Lara. T’Pol served mainly as an observer. Her presence had been briefly explained before the meeting had began. She noted, however, that it was entirely unlikely that the melders had not been expecting her.
Most of the Vulcans gathered in the room were unfamiliar to T’Pol. The ones she did recognize were surprisingly respected in her society. *I have been amiss in my original categorization of melders,* she acknowledged.
A Vulcan male spoke presently, “While the news of the Security Council is encouraging, I do not understand how we can demonstrate the medical and scientific benefits of melds without the opportunity to show proof.”
T’Pol spoke then. “What exactly are the medical benefits?”
The male raised an eyebrow at her bluntness and remarked, “That is an understandable question, T’Pol. Your experiences have been rather negative, I understand.”
T’Pol did not care for his patronizing. “Pity is an emotional. As a Vulcan I have no need for it,” she responded crisply.
Raising his other eyebrow, the male responded, “In that case, allow me to instead answer your question in part. Scientifically, melds are a harmonious alignment of synaptic activity. They have been documented to be beneficial in postponing the effects of the Benai Syndrome as well as a variety of unfortunate neurological disorders. Most intriguingly, the activity of melding has had the rumored capacity to ease the discomfort of pon far.”
Someone else began to speak, but T’Pol ceased to pay attention to them. Her attention was focused upon the male Vulcan. He looked distinctly familiar, but T’Pol could not place immediately place.
As the meeting adjourned, he made his way to where she stood. “T’Pol,” he began, “It was not my intention to cause offense. Allow me to express my sincerest apology if I have done so.”
T’Pol shook her head. “It is I who should apologize. I am certain you meant no offense.”
“I am glad you realize that,” the male answered. “Perhaps then, you would not be in objection to joining me for an excursion tomorrow?”
“I doubt the wisdom of agreeing to any type of expedition with someone I do not know,” T’Pol answered.
A smile tugged at the male’s lips. “We may not have seen each other in some time, T’Pol, but we are not strangers. It is I, Koss.”
For a moment T’Pol was speechless. When she found her voice again, she answered, “What type of tr-. . . expedition do you have in mind?”
“I am going on a survey mission for a potential research facility near the province of Tr’Nar. I thought if you would like to accompany me, there is much to discuss,” Koss answered.
“Such as?” T’Pol asked wearily.
If Koss was surprised by her question, he did not show it. “My parents may not have seen the benefit of your work; however, they are not representative of our entire planet. I am most curious to hear of your work on the Enterprise. I understand you are to be wed in two days’ time and tomorrow may be the last chance I have to converse with you in such a casual setting.”
T’Pol nodded her approval. “That shall be pleasant. I have not had the opportunity to review the landscape of my home world since returning. I would welcome such an opportunity,” she said truthfully.
Koss raised his hand in the familiar Vulcan gesture. “Until then, live long and prosper, T’Pol.”
“Prosperity and long life, Koss,” T’Pol bade him while returning the gesture.
To Be Continued. . . .
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