If you are seeing this paragraph, the site is not displaying correctly. You can see the content, but your current browser does not support CSS which is necessary to view our site properly. For the best visual experience, you will need to upgrade your browser to Netscape 6.0 or higher, MSIE 5.5 or higher, or Opera 3.6 or higher. If, however, you don't wish to upgrade your browser, scroll down and read the content - everything is still visible, it just doesn't look as pretty.
Down a Dark Road
Author - Shouldknowbetter | D | Genre - Action/Adventure | Genre - Angst | Genre - Drama | Genre - Friendship | Main Story | Rating - PG-13
Fan Fiction Main Page | Stories sorted by title, author, genre, and rating
Down a Dark Road
“It’s not looking good.” The marines’ commander crouched on the far side of his people from the Starfleet officers, tactic acknowledgement of the difficulties of a divided command structure that hadn’t yet been thrashed out. “I can’t locate Captain Archer’s group. The hostiles have got us pinned down.”
“Whoever they are,” Red muttered and levered himself up for a quick look, ducking down quickly when uncomfortably accurate fire demonstrated that he had been seen. “They know our position.”
Casey scowled. “They chased us into it, Lieutenant! Next time, Archer had best leave this to the professionals.”
That earned him an annoyed look from the Englishman who had already had enough of that subject over the weeks since the marines’ arrival on Enterprise, but this time he didn’t get to continue the debate as Tucker finally stirred for the first time in minutes. “I need to get back to the shuttle pod.” The engineer gave no sign that he had been paying the least attention to the preceding conversation. “Cover me.”
He didn’t give anyone time to protest, already racing in a half crouch towards the dip, four hundred metres distant, where they had left the shuttle pod an hour earlier. Casey swore and signaled one of his people to follow Tucker even as he and the rest laid down covering fire. “Has he got a death wish?” The question was directed at Reed who only grimaced. “Crazy …” The rest of the complaint was lost in the need to shoot and duck, and when Reed had time to check there was no one left standing on the ground behind them; he only hoped there weren’t two more corpses out there.
“What was his plan, Lieutenant?” Casey was still angry and Reed sighed.
“He probably thought that he could cut through the jamming using the equipment in the shuttle pod.”
“I wish he’d damn well stick to the engineering!”
Again Reed made no answer. The middle of a battlefield wasn’t the place for an explanation, even if he had fully understood Tucker’s behaviour himself. He didn’t understand his friend’s refusal to deal with his grief when it was as plain as daylight that he was reacting in textbook style to sudden and violent death. Reed grieved with and for Tucker but he didn’t know what to do about it. The engineer had shut him out weeks ago and no friendly overtures had breached the angry shell Tucker had wrapped around himself. Aware that he wasn’t the most outgoing of people himself, Reed had almost given up pushing. He’d be there to help pick up the pieces when Tucker finally shattered, but until then he was stalled.
It was only five minutes later when a painfully bright beam of light slashed down out of the sky, blasting their attackers’ position and then moving on to target other areas. Casey didn’t hesitate. “Move out.” His pointing arm indicated Archer’s last known location. “Re-group at 2 o’clock, 600m. Move, move, move!”
Reed hesitated, turning for a last look in the direction of the shuttle pod, caught a glimpse of two figures heading away from there and set off on an intercept course. He came up with Tucker as they were forced to take cover again as another volley came close, then supporting fire from Casey’s group cut it short. Reed took a cautious look around and sighed at the scene, which was abruptly still. “You know that the targeting scanners aren’t too accurate from orbit.”
“T’Pol tied them into the sensor net.” Tucker nodded to where the marines were clambering slowly up a pile of debris, weapons still ready but for the moment not needed. “Let’s go.”
They were barely twenty metres out when movement in Reed’s peripheral vision jerked him around and tightened his finger on the trigger of his phase pistol before he realized what he was seeing. “Commander!”
Ahead, Tucker swung around, weapon pulling up and Reed never knew what instinct flung him forward, knocking the other man aside as the beam of energy shot out, missing the petrified figure by centimetres. Reed glared at Tucker as the engineer picked himself up, none too happy himself. “What’s the game, Malcolm?”
“It’s a child! You were going to shoot!”
Tucker shrugged and Reed felt a cold shiver run down his back at the indifference on his friend’s face. “She’s old enough to hold a gun.”
“She’s not armed!”
Tucker started towards the motionless girl, phase pistol covering her. Reed swallowed, telling himself that the other’s weapon was set to stun, but somehow it didn’t help. The child looked no more than ten or eleven if human measures had any meaning here, filthy, thin and terrified, and she dropped to a crouch, arms over her head, as the humans approached.
“Get up.” Tucker’s voice was harsh and Reed bit his lip in an effort not to intervene. This was Trip, his friend, who adored children, who went out of his way to help other people. “I said get up! Where are the others?”
“Commander,” Reed couldn’t keep quiet any longer, “that’s not going to work. She’s …”
A movement behind the girl brought them all quiveringly alert, then a woman stepped forward to crouch beside the child, cradling her close. “Leave us alone!” They didn’t have a Universal Translator but the sentiment was clear enough. “Go away!”
“I did.” Archer stretched out a hand for a PADD, his words deliberate. “I’ve been reading Lt. Reed’s report on what happened down on that planet.” Tucker might have stiffened fractionally but volunteered nothing and the lack of response snapped the captain’s control. “Damn it, Trip, what were you doing?”
“I was saving the landing party’s butt, sir. They had us pinned down. Casey …”
“I wasn’t talking about the aerial bombardment! I was talking about the child you nearly killed. Your phase pistol wasn’t set to stun, Commander Tucker.”
“Did Malcolm say so?”
“It’s his job to check, you know that.” Archer took a steadying breath, willing himself to calm down. “Tell me your side of the story, Trip.”
The eyes meeting his were perfectly steady and perfectly blank, not Trip’s eyes at all. “I saw someone I thought was a threat. I was gonna deal with them until Lt. Reed stopped me.”
“It’s happened before, Cap’n. She could have been wired or a decoy or …”
“You didn’t know that!”
“She could have been!” Tucker’s anger was mounting in response to Archer’s disgust. “You said we weren’t gonna pussyfoot around out here. We’ve gotta …”
“We have to survive long enough to find the Xindi!” Archer didn’t often lose his temper but he was keenly aware of the pressure of his responsibilities and Tucker’s actions had shattered a few illusions. “We’ve been in the Delphic Expanse less than a week. This is the first contact we’ve had and you’ve made sure that the civilian population of that planet will never trust us again.”
“They were shooting at us!”
“No, they weren’t!” Archer didn’t often raise his voice either, but that was near enough a shout to make no difference. “It was a terrorist group, Trip. Hoshi managed to contact the planetary authorities. They’ve thanked us for dealing with the bad guys and asked us to keep the hell away from their planet – and I can’t say I blame them. We can’t shoot our way through this. We have to find allies, sources of information, whatever it takes.”
“Including getting more of us killed?”
“There are going to be casualties this time round, I’m resigned to that.”
“I’m not!” Tucker leant in closer than military decorum permitted. “Aren’t seven million enough?”
Archer drew breath to snap back but caught himself up, turning away. “You have to deal with it, Trip – but not like this.” His voice was quiet again.
“I have dealt with it.”
The older man turned back, very much in command again. “Commander Tucker, I’m relieving you of your position as third in command of Enterprise.” Tucker’s mouth dropped open but Archer didn’t give him time to protest. “You’ll retain your duties as chief engineer but you’re excluded from command until such time as you prove yourself fit for it.”
“T’Pol put you up to this, didn’t she?” Tucker’s voice was rough with anger.
“The decision was mine.” Archer tried to catch his friend’s eyes but Tucker wouldn’t let him. “I need officers I can trust – and at the moment you’re not one of them. Dismissed, Commander Tucker.” He watched the wide mouth compress into a hard and bitter line then Tucker was gone and Archer crossed to inspect his view again, feeling much the same bitterness. A lifetime and a few months ago, he wouldn’t have handled the incident like that, but that was before Florida, before Venezuela, before the Delphic Expanse. Now there wasn’t time for compassion.
The eyebrow rose higher. “Your discussion with Commander Tucker was … vocal.”
He grimaced. “You heard it on the bridge?”
“I doubt that human hearing could distinguish details.”
Restlessly, Archer left his desk again. “You supported my decision regarding Trip.”
“Then why are you here, T’Pol?”
Archer was facing away but he could feel the cool gaze on the back of his neck in the momentary silence that followed before the Vulcan said carefully, “You cannot be unaware, captain, that Commander Tucker is not entirely responsible for his current behaviour.”
The man also paused before answering. “If Trip wants to contribute to this mission, he has got to get past his sister’s death.”
“With which he needs help.”
“Do you think I haven’t tried?” Archer turned angrily on his first officer. “He won’t talk to me, T’Pol. Every time I try, he clams up. He’ll talk about what we’re doing out here, our strategy, tactics … but try to talk about what it means to him personally and he shuts off.” The dark eyes didn’t waver and Archer went back to the viewport to avoid them. “I’ve known Trip for a long time, T’Pol, but I never thought to see him like this.”
“You feel responsible for Commander Tucker?” There was faint curiosity in the quiet voice and Archer was aware that the Vulcan woman had moved closer, sure sign that she wasn’t about to let him off until he had explained the situation to her satisfaction. And to be fair, she had a right to know; Enterprise’s first officer needed to be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the crew – and of her captain’s.
“I’m responsible for every one of them.” That came out harsher and more bitter than Archer had anticipated but T’Pol was remarkably easy to talk to and at the moment there was no one else available. “But Trip … he wouldn’t be out here if it wasn’t for me.”
“You promised to make him your chief engineer when he colluded in your theft of the NX-Beta.”
Archer smiled briefly, glancing sideways with wry affection at the Vulcan. “You’re not going to let me forget that one, are you?” The smile faded. “No, T’Pol, that wasn’t what I meant.” His eyes were back on the planet. “Admiral Forrest wanted to keep Trip on Earth this time, to help bring forward the commissioning date of the NX-02.” He drew a deep breath. “And I knew it was the best option for Trip given how he was reacting but … I thought you were going back to Vulcan and … I didn’t want to be out here without either of my two senior officers.”
There was another long pause. “That does not make you responsible for Commander Tucker’s emotional problems.”
“No, it doesn’t.” Archer’s voice was firm again as he faced his first officer. “But my failure to help him as a friend is my responsibility. I don’t have the time, T’Pol! Maybe I could get through to him eventually but I don’t have that luxury.” He hesitated. “You told me once that if I ever needed someone I could trust … T’Pol, I need you to help Trip.”
Her surprise was visible. “Captain, I …”
“Don’t!” He held up a hand to stop her. “Don’t say that he needs someone who can understand his emotions, because Malcolm and I have both tried and it hasn’t worked. We’re too close, we can’t stay objective; and maybe that’s what Trip needs right now.”
“Nothing in Commander Tucker’s behaviour over the last weeks leads me to believe that he will be willing even to speak with me, let alone accept my help.”
“I know.” Archer sighed, returning heavily to his chair. “But he told me he’d got used to having you around and I know he’s grown to respect you – whatever he might say to the contrary. Will you do it?” He held his breath, knowing that what he was asking went subtly beyond what a captain could reasonably ask of a first officer, particularly a Vulcan one, but he was relying on T’Pol’s loyalty to him – and maybe to Tucker as well.
There was a slight emphasis on the final word, but it was as much as he had expected. “Thank you, sub-commander. I know you’ll do your best.”
Tucker halted in the doorway, glaring down at the kneeling Vulcan. “If the cap’n hadn’t made this an order, I wouldn’t be here.”
The brief answer caught him off-guard for a moment, then he was scowling again. “Fine. So why don’t we just agree that it’s not gonna work and save us both the trouble?”
“You wish to deceive the captain?” There was no reply. “Then be seated.”
Reluctantly, Tucker sank down in front of her, crossing his legs. “I am not gonna have you dissecting my ‘feelings’.”
“I have no interest in your feelings, Mr. Tucker.” T’Pol’s voice was flat. “It is your lack of control that is endangering this mission. We will deal with that.”
He stared resentfully back. “You don’t understand a thing about human emotion, do you, T’Pol? What are you trying to do, turn me into one of you? Into a cold-hearted machine who …”
“You are only serving to illustrate that there is a problem to be addressed.”
“A problem?” T’Pol had encountered Tucker’s anger several times, usually head on, but she had never seen him look so hard. “Do you have family, sub-commander?”
She hesitated, aware that she was losing the initiative she had planned to keep. “Of course.”
“Then I guess that if they were murdered you’d not feel it necessary to see they got justice, because you wouldn’t feel anything at all, would you, Sub-Commander T’Pol?”
“Justice and revenge are not the same.”
“I don’t give a damn on your definitions!” Tucker scrambled to his feet, expression set and angry. “I know what we’re here to do and I’m gonna see that it gets done. And now you can truthfully tell the cap’n that this isn’t gonna work!”
T’Pol regarded the closed door of her hastily vacated cabin with a faint frown and well controlled exasperation. It seemed that Archer’s assessment of her competence for this role had been over-generous.
“Historical precedent …”
“There is no precedent.” Archer cut across the other man, patience finally at an end. “I’m sorry, general, but the situation is this: Enterprise is my ship and you and your men are under my command. That isn’t up for negotiation and never will be. What we’re here to discuss is integrating your people into our command structure, nothing else.”
“But if you’re off the ship or incapacitated …”
“Then you’ll obey Sub-Commander T’Pol or Lt. Reed as you would me.” To one side, the armoury officer shifted uncomfortably and Archer breathed a silent prayer that the Englishman wouldn’t repeat his protest over Tucker’s exclusion, not just from the meeting but from command. The situation on Enterprise was uneasy enough as it was with the necessarily public announcement of the popular engineer’s change in status. “Is that understood, General Casey?” Grudgingly the man nodded and Archer tried to sweeten the pill. “Certainly within the scope of any mission assigned to you …”
The meeting continued for some time, eventually breaking up with Casey only partially mollified. Reed hesitated, looking uncertainly between captain and first officer, but then he too departed and Archer sighed, wondering whether to bother Phlox about yet another nagging headache.
“Your decision to exclude Commander Tucker from the command structure was correct.”
He looked over in surprise at T’Pol’s all too accurate guess and frowned. “Are you sure you’re not one of those telepathic Vulcans, sub-commander?”
“How’s it going with Trip?”
“Our first session was not propitious.”
“I didn’t say it would be easy.”
“You’ll keep at it?”
“Of course, Captain.”
“My current medication appears effective.” She came to stand beside him, hands clasped behind her. “Doctor, may I speak with you on a confidential matter?”
“Of course.” He appeared surprised. “But surely you know that I wouldn’t discuss your condition, even with Captain Archer, without your permission.”
“This concerns another member of the crew.”
“Commander Tucker.” Phlox smiled blandly at T’Pol’s raised eyebrow. “It hardly requires a great leap of intuition, sub-commander, to deduce that you would be concerned about him.”
“As is Captain Archer. Has Commander Tucker consulted you recently, doctor?”
“He has not, and having received the sharp end of his tongue myself, I deduced it was best to allow someone better qualified to deal with him.”
“Unfortunately,” T’Pol’s tone was dry, “Captain Archer believes that person to be myself.”
“He could be right. I believe humans can find it easier to discuss problems with someone who can be … impersonal.”
“That requires the cooperation of the individual. Commander Tucker does not wish to cooperate.”
“His sister?” The Vulcan’s voice indicated surprise at a suggestion even she evidently found insensitive.
“Captain Archer.” Phlox smiled again at another raised eyebrow. “I’m aware that the ship’s grapevine reports a falling out between them, but I doubt it has affected the commander’s underlying loyalties.”
For a moment, T’Pol regarded the Denobulan thoughtfully then nodded. “I will consider your advice. Good day, doctor.”
“So are you.” The sideways look he shot her was hostile. “Don’t tell me you just came down here for the pleasure of my company, sub-commander. We’ve still got nothing to discuss.”
“Not even the fact that your current behaviour is adding considerably to the burden Captain Archer is carrying?”
He straightened, turning to face her for the first time. T’Pol held angry blue eyes for a long moment until Tucker said bitterly, “You don’t play fair, do you?”
“If I understand the concept correctly, then your refusal to work with me is ‘unfair’ to Captain Archer – and to Enterprise.”
Tucker grimaced and returned to his diagnostic although without his previous focus. “What are you proposing?”
She didn’t answer directly. “Do you recall the V’tosh Ka’tur?”
“I believe I told you then that Vulcan emotions are dangerous. Without our unceasing efforts, Commander Tucker, we would rapidly succumb to anger, hatred, violence.”
“The dark side, huh?”
“If you wish to phrase it so.”
“So what, T’Pol?” There was finally a laugh lurking in his eyes, although it was black humour that put it there. “Are you gonna redeem me, Luke?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“I guess you’ve not seen Star Wars yet. What’s your plan, T’Pol?”
“I can teach you techniques to control the anger you evidently feel – at least while you are on duty.” T’Pol had the level start down to a fine art. “There have been reports from your department regarding your uncertain temper.”
Tucker had the grace to grimace. “Official?”
“Not as yet.”
He looked away, across the engine room he had always managed with cheerful ease, mouth twisted to one side. “OK”. It was his turn to catch and hold T’Pol’s eyes. “But just that. Nothing else.”
“Of course.” She managed to make it sound as if anything else would be unthinkable.
“When do we start?”
“I believe that that diagnostic can wait until the morning.”
“Do you not have a saying, ‘no time like the present’?”
“Hold your horses, Malcolm.” Archer had swung his chair to face the science station. “T’Pol, have you got any further information?”
“Sir,” Reed rarely interrupted, but he was keenly aware of his elevation in the command structure, “replenishing our stock of anti-matter was always going to be a problem and we used a significant proportion of our reserve in disabling Duras’ ship.”
“I know that, Lieutenant,” there was an edge to Archer’s voice, “but I’m not ordering anyone in there just to satisfy your desire for explosions until we know if it’s safe. T’Pol?”
The science officer finally straightened from her scanner. “It is somewhat similar to a Mutara class nebula. However, there appear to be differences in composition.”
“Appear to be?”
“It is impossible to scan deeply within the nebula. There is too much interference.”
“Can we collect anti-matter for Lt. Reed?”
“I believe so.”
“All right. Travis …”
“Captain,” she interrupted quickly, “I would not advice taking Enterprise into the nebula. There is a small but significant risk that the free anti-matter would react unfavourably with the nacelles.”
“At worst, the nacelles would be destroyed.”
“That’s pretty unfavourable. Shuttle pod?”
“Should be unaffected.”
“Then get Commander Tucker started on the collection equipment.”
She nodded but approached his chair. “Captain, may I speak with you privately?”
“Of course.” Curious, he led the way into the ready room. “Sub-commander?”
“Captain, who are you considering for the away team?”
“I hadn’t got that far.” Archer perched on the edge of the desk. “Why do you ask?”
“I believe that Commander Tucker’s presence on the shuttle pod may be vital to the success of the mission.”
Archer sighed, a hand rising to rub his mouth. “Then you or I have to go too. I really don’t want to put Trip and Malcolm in a situation where their roles are reversed until I have to.” His mouth pulled into a crocked smile. “I guess we won’t be sharing away missions for a while, sub-commander.”
“You may wish to consider a protocol that operates on Vulcan ships.”
“Might I?” Archer sounded doubtful. He’d never yet encountered a Vulcan protocol he liked.
“Given that a captain is considered vital to the effective operation of his ship, he leaves away missions to his crew.”
“I don’t think so, T’Pol. I need to understand the situation out here. I can’t do that if I never leave Enterprise.”
“Yet to repeatedly endanger your life …”
“No.” Archer was firm. “You’re not going to hamstring me, T’Pol.” He smiled at her resigned expression. “But I’ll compromise. You can go along today to keep an eye on Trip and I’ll stay home like a proper Vulcan captain.”
She gave him a dirty look and left to arrange for the preparation of a shuttle pod.
It wasn’t a question but she could be as blunt as he. “As you know, or Captain Archer would have reinstated you.”
“How long will it be before you believe I can behave like a good boy again?”
The tone was sarcastic and T’Pol took a long look at the stubbornly averted profile before replying. “That, commander, is entirely up to you.”
He snorted. “Don’t you think you should drop the ‘commander’? You know … What is it?”
T’Pol had stiffened over her board and was now working with what, in a human, might have been consider frantic haste. “There is no free anti-matter in this nebula.”
She raised her eyes to meet his, only their fractional widening indicating concern. “There is a ship ahead of us. That is the source of the anti-matter I detected earlier.”
“Hell.” Tucker was already inputting data to the helm. “Reversing course. Have they seen us?” On cue, the shuttle pod shuddered and began to move in a direction Tucker had not authorized. “What was that?”
“We have been captured by a tractor beam.”
“Can we disrupt it?”
“Damn it, T’Pol, if you’d just given me access to the spec.s on the Vulcan version …”
“The information is classified.”
Through the view screen, a dark hulled ship was coming into view, smaller than Enterprise but still many times the size of the shuttle pod.
“Can you raise Enterprise?”
“Deploying.” There was a flash of light outside the shuttle pod. “It has been destroyed.”
“Hell,” Tucker muttered under his breath and glanced over his shoulder at the two marines waiting stoically in the rear. “Get ready. Looks like we’re about to take a diversion.” Then he saw the doubtful looks the pair exchanged and swore again. “Damn it! T’Pol, will you please order them to get ready?”
“Still no response, sir.” Sato tried a reassuring tone. “Captain, Sub-Commander T’Pol did warn us that the nebula could disrupt communications.”
“In that case, they should have pulled out to make contact.” Archer prowled around the space in front of the command chair and made a decision. “Malcolm, have Lt. Hess lock down the fuel flow to the warp reactor.” He settled himself into his seat. “Travis, take us in. Thrusters only.”
“Is that wise, sir?” Reed questioned dutifully but Archer didn’t even look around.
“Something’s gone wrong, lieutenant. I can feel it; and I mean to find out what it is.”
“Since we were all unconscious, we do not know.” T’Pol did not appear concerned. “However, it is logical to assume that we were removed from Shuttle Pod 1 and imprisoned on the ship that captured us.”
“Is everyone OK?”
“So far.” Tucker swallowed, trying to ease his discomfort and she continued, “You appear to have had a more severe reaction to the gas used to render us unconscious.”
“Why doesn’t that surprise me?” He hauled himself to his feet. “Anyone tried the door?”
He checked anyway then came to squat at the Vulcan’s side. “What now, sub-commander? We just sit here and wait?”
She gave him a cool look. “Meditation may be advisable.”
The door opened before he could take offense and they looked up into the faintly feline faces of a number of aliens, toting some serious looking weaponry that discouraged all thought of heroics. The gesture with one of the guns was unmistakable: ‘Come with us.’ They went.
The aliens were all taller and more heavily built that the humans and believed that prisoners should be pushed at every opportunity. Tucker gritted his teeth and sternly repressed the urge to shove back; it would clearly be futile and T’Pol would undoubtedly attribute it to a lack of control and report back on him.
They were taken to the strange ship’s bridge where another man awaited them, lounging in a central chair and idly tossing a phase pistol from hand to hand. He rose to his feet, well over two metres in height with a stiffened mane that made him look taller still, and ran a contemptuous eye over the group, although a smile formed as he took note of T’Pol. “A Vulcan!” He strolled over and stretched out a hand to trace the point of one ear. She pulled her head away and managed a glare at Tucker who had stiffened in instinctive protest. “What fun. You can understand me?”
“We can.” T’Pol met his eyes unflinchingly. “Why did you capture our ship?”
“Because it was there. Where’s your mother ship?” She remained silent and the alien grinned and reached out to caress her again. “Such a pretty Vulcan. Not like the rest.”
“Leave her alone!” Even knowing that T’Pol was quite capable of looking after herself didn’t prevent Tucker’s intervention, although the resultant rifle butt in the kidneys dropped him to his hands and knees, gasping. One of the guards kicked him for good measure and the leader stared down at him in amusement before turning back to T’Pol.
“You are in command of these others?”
“I am.” T’Pol’s voice was dispassionate. “I would request that you do not harm them.”
“Oh, but you’re far too pretty to hurt, so what other choice do I have? Where’s your mother ship? What armaments does it have?” Again she didn’t answer and with the utmost casualness he drove a fist into Tucker’s stomach, sending the engineer crashing to the floor again.
“I asked you not to harm them.”
“You like him?” The man was grinning. “Then we’ll save him for later.” He prowled around to the other side of the group, closing stubby, claw-tipped fingers around the neck of one of the marines. “Where’s your ship?” With barely a pause, he tightened his grip, there was a sickening crunch and the woman’s body slumped to the ground, her head lolling at an unnatural angle. The other marine’s instinctive leap to his colleague’s assistance was cut short as the alien fired the phase pistol at him at close range.
“You bastard!” Tucker was back on his feet, driven by adrenaline, and would have repeated the marine’s mistake if T’Pol had not restrained him.
“What do you want with Enterprise?” The Vulcan’s voice was still calm despite the murder of one of her party, although her eyes were narrowed slightly.
“Your mother ship? I want her technology, of course – and any other pretty women. Where is it?” She didn’t respond and he tossed the pistol up once more. “Good weapon. Two settings, yes? Unconscious,” he tilted the pistol to demonstrate, “and dead.” The switch was pushed over and the weapon directed at the unconscious marine at his feet. “Where is it?”
There was a pause then T’Pol said quietly, “Outside the nebula.”
“Good.” The alien grinned and pulled the trigger and the marine was as dead as his colleague. Tucker howled with fury and flung himself at the larger man in an idiotic and hopeless attack.
The walls stopped spinning enough for him to focus on the olive skinned face regarding him with disapproval. “I guess you’re gonna tell me that was real stupid.”
“Indeed. Perhaps this incident will convince you of the need for control. You could have sustained serious injuries.”
“I’m OK,” which was a down right lie. “I hope the other guy’s foot hurts!”
“Did they want anything else?”
“Then why are we still alive?”
“I am sure that we will find out.”
Tucker leant his head back against the wall behind him and closed his eyes, concentrating on breathing but it didn’t really help. “They were real interested in Enterprise.”
“Yes.” T’Pol had hoped that Tucker would not remember that. She was not an expert on human physiology, but the engineer had been severely beaten and humans were fragile. He looked ill and worrying about their ship would not help his condition. She had already lost two members of her party; she did not want to lose another.
“We have to warn them.”
“I see no way of doing so.” T’Pol considered not telling him, but withholding information was potentially dangerous. “We are no longer in the nebula. We went to warp whilst you were unconscious.”
“What about Enterprise?”
“We can only assume that they felt her too much of a threat to tackle alone.”
“So they’ll lay a trap? Maybe even use us as bait?”
“It would seem logical.”
With an effort, Tucker kicked off a boot and fiddled with the sole until he had extracted a small device from a hollow in the material. T’Pol took it when he held it out and studied it while he fumbled with the other boot.
“A homing beacon?”
“Uh huh. It transmits on a Starfleet emergency channel. I got fed up with losing the cap’n. I’m still trying to make him accept it as standard equipment.”
“It is a low power device. Any signal it transmits is unlikely to reach Enterprise, particularly if she has remained in the vicinity of the nebula.”
“I know.” He held up a probe he had assembled from components concealed in the other boot. “Let’s see if we can get the door open.” Unfortunately, trying to pick a lock involved standing up and Tucker found that even that simple task was almost beyond him. He had to lean against the wall for several seconds, panting, eyes screwed up with pain, before he could even think of walking to the door.
“Do you require assistance?”
“No.” He clearly wasn’t well, even paler than before and soaked with sweat, but stubbornly made it to the door. T’Pol considered relieving him of the probe and performing the task herself but decided against it. Tucker was much the best engineer; if anyone could open the door, he could.
It took him a while, hampered by limited equipment, but ten minutes and a good deal of swearing later the lock disengaged with a slight click and he stuck out a foot to prevent the door from swinging open before they had checked that the way was clear. “You need to find a power outlet and plug the transmitter into it. It can stand the higher rating.”
T’Pol had been peering cautiously at the apparently deserted corridor but her elegant head turned sharply for a quick, disdainful look. “We will both go.”
“Don’t be crazy.” Tucker had no desire to be a martyr but he definitely didn’t want Enterprise on his conscience. “One of us is less likely to be caught,” and not for the world would he have admitted that he felt far too rough to go himself
“I disagree.” She turned back. “The corridor is clear. I suggest we leave immediately,” and as Tucker would have protested, she added crisply, “That, Commander Tucker, was an order.”
“That’s not possible.” Archer came to check for himself, frowning at the readings. “Unless … Travis,” he moved urgently back to the command chair, “take us out of here, as fast as you can.”
“Captain?” Reed queried as the helmsman carried out the order and Archer looked back over his shoulder, mouth set in a grim line.
“T’Pol said that the nebula could disrupt the nacelles. It’s just possible,” and he faced front again, expression unhappy, “that what she detected was the discharge from a ship that was already in here.”
Moving quickly made his head swim, but fortunately this door wasn’t locked. Once inside, Tucker collapsed against the wall again, gritting his teeth against the pain, only vaguely aware that T’Pol was watching cautiously through the small gap she had left between door and sill. He retained enough awareness, however, to note her sudden stiffening and such a reaction from the normally imperturbable woman was enough to alert him to trouble. “What is it?”
She made no response and he eased himself closer enough to peer over her shoulder, breath hissing between his teeth at the sight of the man groveling on the floor at the foot of one of the feline aliens, who was casually beating him around the head. The guard stepped back with a final blow. “Get up.” Their Universal Translator appeared a good deal more sophisticated than Starfleet’s version. The man on the ground was audibly sobbing – Tucker could sympathise – but slowly lifted his head and the engineer understood T’Pol’s reaction. Under dark hair grown out of a neat bob, the man’s ears were pointed and the blood marking his face was green, although that was where all similarity to other Vulcans Tucker had encountered ended. This one’s expression was twisted into one of abject terror as he gazed up at the other alien. “No more,” he whispered beseechingly. “No more, master.”
His captor produced a mocking grin. “Then behave, idiot.” He aimed an idle boot at the crouching man. “On your feet.”
They disappeared from view and Tucker inadvertently drew a deep breath of relief and nearly doubled over in pain, gasping: broken ribs for sure. “Be silent!” The whisper was fierce and Tucker straightened carefully, momentary sympathy wiped away.
“They’ve gone!” although he kept his voice down. “How did a Vulcan end up here?”
“I do not know.” T’Pol turned for a critical stare. “You’re condition is deteriorating. Are you capable of continuing?”
“Sure.” He managed to stand without the aid of the wall, helped by a shot of aggression in response to the stare. “Why was he acting like that?”
“I do not know.” T’Pol had turned to scan the room and was conveniently looking away as she added, “It is possible that his loss of control was simply due to … this area of space.”
Satisfied that the room contained nothing of use, she turned back, face blank. “I was warned that the Delphic Expanse has a … deleterious … effect on Vulcans.”
“It turns them into gibbering idiots?”
Tucker had the satisfaction of receiving a glare. “It disrupts control of emotion. A Vulcan ship was lost here due to such an event.”
“And you still stayed on Enterprise?” Tucker was frowning now, surprise canceling out irritation.
“Captain Archer needed me.” She checked the corridor again. “We must hurry.”
“Sir,” Mayweather offered from the helm, “I think I’m detecting a warp trail leading away from here.”
“Can you be more definite, ensign?”
“Sorry, sir. It’s tenuous and already badly decayed.”
“Can you follow it?”
The young man pulled a doubtful face. “I can try, sir, but it’s not going to be easy. I can’t get a clear fix so I’ll have to keep dropping out of warp to check our heading.”
Archer gritted his teeth and turned for a quick look at Reed, who shrugged somewhat helplessly back. It wasn’t a good option but there wasn’t a better one available. “All right, Travis, do the best you can. Hoshi, keep trying to raise the away team.”
“I suggest you refrain from idle speculation until we are in a more secure location.” T’Pol was again on watch and, to Tucker’s mind, determined to be as annoying as possible. He’d not been so irritated with her in a long time – well, in all honesty, since the day before when she’d taken him to task for losing his temper over a sloppy repair, but he was still counting that as poking her nose in where it wasn’t wanted. This was subtly different and if he’d felt better, he might have had the energy to wonder if she was as scared as he was.
“Is it working?”
“Of course it’s working!” He glared at her bland expression. “I’m still the chief engineer!” She just gave him a withering look and started back the way they had come. “Where are we going?”
“I believe our best course would be to return to our cell.”
“What?” T’Pol didn’t have a chance to explain why that was the logical choice because they both halted as voices from the corridor behind reached them. “Shit.”
“Can you run?”
“Oh, yeah!” As it happened he couldn’t, staggering into the wall after only a few strides, a hand pressed to his side as he gasped in pain. He didn’t look up as a hand grabbed his arm to pull him forward. “Leave me.”
They never got to find out if T’Pol would have abandoned Tucker to his fate because another group of aliens appeared ahead of them at about the same moment as those behind hove into view. T’Pol cast a quick glance between them, took another look at the human by her side and gave up on the possibility of escape. They appeared well and truly trapped.
Reed looked up quickly, Archer being off the bridge. “You’ve been spending too much time with Trip. What’s the problem, ensign?”
“The trail’s gone.”
“You heard me.” The young man was too annoyed for protocol and, to one side of the bridge, Sato found herself wondering if they were destined for one long temper tantrum whilst they remained in the Delphic Expanse. “It’s not there anymore.”
“Where’s it gone?”
“If I knew that, sir, I’d still be following it. Are you going to tell the captain or shall I?”
“Be my guest, ensign.”
It wasn’t a beam of light that shot out, but a cone that enveloped the Vulcan’s head and shoulders with spectacular results. She screamed, hands flying to her head as it tipped back at a painful angle, mouth pulled wide in a rictus of agony. Just brushed by the edge of the beam, Tucker staggered back, gasping as his head throbbed, and a stab of anger shot through him. “Leave her alone!”
“Will your ship come after you?”
He didn’t even stop to consider the answer. “Yes.”
The light cut off as abruptly as it had formed and T’Pol dropped to the ground before Tucker had a chance to catch her.
“Take them away.” The alien smiled at the furious engineer. “A word of warning, my friend. Once the Vulcan’s feeling more herself, she may try to kill you.”
“There’s nothing obvious, sir,” the helmsman offered, but began a more detailed examination of the spatial data at his disposal.
Cautiously, Reed asked, “Sir, we can’t even be sure that Sub-Commander T’Pol and Commander Tucker were abducted.”
“I know that, Malcolm.” Archer didn’t look up from his survey of Mayweather’s activities. “But unless you’ve got a better idea, we’ll just have to go with my hunch.”
Reed grimaced and subsided, increasingly aware of why Enterprise’s first officer frequently emerged from the ready room in a state of mild frustration.
He got more than he bargained for. Her head snapped up, but instead of the fear and pain he had half expected, there was blazing anger in her face. “Do not touch me!”
“Sure!” He snatched the hand back. “T’Pol … what’s wrong?”
“Wrong?” She was panting, lips drawn back in an almost feral snarl. “They destroyed my people!”
Tucker would be the first to admit that he didn’t understand Vulcans but this was weird even by his standards. “That Vulcan we saw?”
“The ship. They must have … done this … to the crew.”
“Done what?” Not that he really thought he wanted to know.
“This!” It was a fierce and vicious condemnation. “Made me … as we were.” Then something in her seemed to disintegrate still further. “Get away from me! Go!” She accompanied the order with a brutal thrust that landed Tucker on the floor again and this time the pain did put him under.
“What is it?”
“A transmission on a Starfleet emergency frequency.” A look of annoyance passed over the woman’s face. “It’s gone again.”
“From Shuttle Pod 1?”
“I don’t think so, sir. It was more like … a homing signal.”
Frowning slightly, Archer joined Sato at the communication console. “Trip’s been playing around with emergency beacons. Show me the signal.”
She complied and looked up at him hopefully. “Is it the away team, Captain?”
“It could just be a garbled transmission from Earth.” Reed had joined his colleagues.
“I don’t think so.” Archer was still studying the brief transmission. “Can you get a location fix, Hoshi?”
“I think so.” She set to work, but felt compelled to add, “Lt. Reed could be right, sir. We’ve had trouble getting a clear channel back to Starfleet. It might just be a false signal.”
“Let’s see where it came from before we start the speculation, people.”
“There,” Sato said after a few minutes work, and transferred her findings to a display behind her, overlaying the likely source of the signal on a star chart.
Archer moved in for a closer inspection. “Superimpose the course we followed to this location.”
Reed eyed the result doubtfully. “That’s a big area to cover.”
“Have you got a constructive suggestion, lieutenant?” The captain’s patience with his acting first officer was wearing thin.
“I really think we should return to the nebula, sir.” The armoury officer gestured to the chart in front of them. “We’ve been chasing … ghosts … for the last six hours.”
“We’ve nothing else to go on, Malcolm.” Archer gave the Englishman a long look. “And I still think that we’re on the right track.” Reed grimaced. “Do you want your protest to go on record?”
“No, sir!” Affronted, he changed tack. “With your permission, captain, I’ll brief General Casey that we might have a hostage situation to deal with.”
“You do that, Malcolm. Travis, lay in a course towards the source of that transmission, warp 4.”
He recognized the voice and also recalled what the person who owned it had done to him recently. “If you’re gonna hit me again …”
“I did not strike you.”
He managed to turn onto his back, biting his lip. “Damn near.”
“I apologise.” T’Pol’s voice was sharp and squinting up at her, Tucker thought that she still looked more unsettled than normal, although the fury had dispersed. “You must get up.”
He groaned at the very thought. “Why?”
“Tok wishes to help us gain access to Shuttle Pod 1.”
“An engineer from the ship I told you of.”
“The one that was destroyed?”
“Indeed.” She pulled him into a sitting position and Tucker cried out, clutching his side. “You must get up!”
“Not acceptable!” He had never heard the Vulcan woman sound so fierce and he couldn’t resist when she hauled him to his feet, although he nearly passed out again. “If you had attended to your lessons, you would be able to ignore your discomfort.”
The pain was shocking and he felt dizzy and disorientated into the bargain, so that the understatement was doubly infuriating. “T’Pol!” He had intended to protest her treatment of him, but finally got a clear view of her face. “Are you all right?”
“No.” She paused to breath deeply a few times, teeth gritted. “I am not … fully in control. We must be quick … before they return.” The dark eyes were narrowed on him and behind the anger Tucker thought he could see fear.
“OK.” Reluctantly he added, “But you’re gonna have to give me a hand – carefully, huh?” She supported him towards the door where Tucker now saw another Vulcan, the one they had earlier seen being beaten. He cringed under the engineer’s blurred gaze and ducked his head away. “You sure he can help?”
It seemed that he couldn’t. The door opened before they reached it and their captor again strolled in, swatting Tok idly aside as he frowned reprovingly at T’Pol. “So stubborn! If you weren’t pretty I wouldn’t be so tolerant.” She released Tucker who staggered, reaching out a restraining but ineffectual hand as she launched herself forward, to be stopped by the same cone of light as before. Once again she screamed then fell as soon as it cut off and Tucker dropped – mostly by intent – to fumble for a pulse. “Oh, it won’t kill her.” The tall man nudged the unconscious woman with his foot. “Another time or two and she’ll be just as obliging as Tok here. Ah, yes, Tok.” He turned to face the other Vulcan and raised his hand.
“No!” The howl was pleading. “No, master!” but the cone of light enveloped him too, holding him writhing and screaming for several long seconds before it cut off. “I’ll leave you with his company, I think. Not that he talks about much except blood anymore.”
Left alone in the cell with two crazy Vulcans, there was very little Tucker could do except hope that his homing beacon had had time to bring Enterprise after them.
“Does its warp trail look like the one we were following earlier?”
“I’m pretty certain it is, sir.”
“Good work, Travis. How long until we’re in hailing range?”
“A couple of hours. Their speeds not much less than ours.”
“Increase to warp 5. Malcolm, bring hull plating and weapons on line and tell General Casey to stand by.” His orders given, Archer leant back reflecting that not all that long ago he would have assumed that talking was more likely to succeed than force. Now he was far less optimistic – or perhaps, as T’Pol would probably tell him, less naïve.
“Blood.” The word was quiet but distinct. “There was blood everywhere.”
It seemed that their captor hadn’t been joking. “T’Pol. What’s been done to her?”
“Blood on the walls, blood on the decks.” He stretched out a tentative hand. “Blood on my hands.”
“Why?” Start basic.
“They made us.”
OK, this wasn’t going well. “Who made you?”
Tucker rubbed his aching forehead, becoming aware that he was sweating even though he was cold. He had a feeling that this conversation would be beyond him even if he didn’t feel miserably ill. “The man who was here just now? The one who hurt you?”
“Leave him alone.”
Tucker started and winced as the injudicious movement hurt, peering over at T’Pol who had regained consciousness and was sitting with her knees drawn up to her chest, arms hugged tightly around them. He got the impression of a coiled snake: she could strike at any moment. “He can tell us …”
“He can tell us nothing!” The look she shot the other Vulcan was blatantly contemptuous. “I should kill him.”
“He should die for the other deaths. Deaths he caused.”
“T’Pol,” Tucker wiped a hand over his face again, “what are you talking about?”
“His ship. He killed there and ran. He should pay.”
“I thought,” he had to pause as a wave of dizziness gripped him, “Vulcans didn’t believe in revenge.”
“We did once.” A hostile pair of eyes turned in his direction. “You are ill.”
“I should kill you.”
“Excuse me?” That was an instinctive protest against the idea of a colleague being capable of cold-blooded murder – particularly of him.
“You do not understand.”
“No, I don’t.” Talking hurt his ribs, but offered distraction. “Why’d you want to kill me?
“Individual react differently.” She glared at him. “Even Vulcans.”
“But why would you kill me?” That definitely rankled.
“Weakness must be eradicated.”
“You know,” wearily, Tucker leant his head back against the wall, “maybe being put out of my misery wouldn’t be a bad idea.”
“They’re responding, sir,” Sato observed and switched the image to the main screen.
“I’m Captain Jonathan Archer of the starship Enterprise. I’ve reason to believe that you’ve captured four of my crew.”
The feline face smirked at him. “That’s right, although I’m afraid there are only two left now. So sad.”
Archer suppressed the sudden spurt of anger. “Hand them over.”
“I want an exchange.”
“Weapon spec.s for the return of your people.”
“Then they’ll die.”
“Ensign Sato, cut the transmission and tell General Casey to be ready to move.” The screen blanked and Archer dropped back into his chair, expression hard. “Mr. Reed, target their engines.”
The door slid open even as the ship lurched again and a pair of the feline aliens appeared, weapons leveled – mostly at T’Pol. “Move.”
She came to her feet in one violent motion and Tucker was sure it was only a gun brandished aggressively in her face that prevented her from launching herself at the guards. Then one gun moved in his direction. “Up!”
Oh, swell, I can’t even manage my own escape and you want me to get up? But knowing that failure to obey would probably hurt worse than trying, Tucker tried although his effort left him gasping on hands and knees, knowing he couldn’t do any better. He was too far gone in pain and fever to even notice the hands that finally hauled him upright and it wasn’t until a slender shoulder inserted itself under one of his that he managed to focus his swimming gaze on T’Pol’s set and angry face. “Why, sub-commander,” he was too ill for discretion and simply uttered the first cliché that offered itself, “I didn’t know you cared.”
“Captain Archer does,” she hissed fiercely and pulled him towards the door where the guards still stood.
It was a nightmare journey for Tucker even with T’Pol propping him up – Tok was too busy cowering to lend a hand – and he barely noticed when they reached the bridge, just grateful that he didn’t have to move anymore. He really didn’t want to have to take note of T’Pol’s urgent whisper but when she combined, “Commander Tucker!” with a nudge of her shoulder that hurt, he forced his wandering attention back to the present and nearly fainted when the sight of Enterprise streaking in for another attack made him try to straighten.
“Son-of-a-bitch,” he muttered in a combination of relief and exhaustion, and grabbed for a nearby rail as T’Pol stepped away from him. It took a moment to realize that she had done so to face the alien captain again, who was looking less than happy.
“You, Vulcan,” he grinned vindictively at her, “call off your friends or,” a large hand gripped the back of Tucker’s neck, “he dies.”
It wasn’t one of the high points of Tucker’s existence, even when experienced through a fever-induced haze, but the threat of imminent death tended to make its presence felt regardless of present circumstances. Instinct and Starfleet training made him drive an elbow into his captor’s stomach, but he was completely incapable of following it up, collapsing to his knees as he was released. He fully expected to be kicked again but when he was left alone for long enough to force back the blackness edging his vision, he managed to raise his head to see that war appeared to have broken out. The captain was struggling with a tall figure and as they reeled around Tucker made out the pointed ears, although the formally terrified expression had transformed into a mask of fury. Oh, great, Tucker thought mildly, another homicidal Vulcan, and looked around for his own version to find T’Pol doing extremely unpleasant things to the two guards. Then the bridge doors burst open and Casey leapt through, a group of his marines flanking him. Unbearably relieved, Tucker let himself sink back to the floor then let out a cry of mingled protest and warning as the alien leader snarled in frustration at the incursion and managed to hurl the raging Vulcan man away from him. Tucker distinctly heard the sickening crunch of a skull impacting an unforgiving edge and, despite his injuries, lost the plot for the second time in twelve hours. The rush of adrenaline brought him to the side of a guard felled by T’Pol and he was reaching for the fallen weapon when he was brushed aside as Enterprise’s first officer got there first. He caught sight of her snarling face and the naked emotion pierced his own anger. “T’Pol! Don’t!”
He was ignored as she swung to face the man who had just murdered her compatriot and another voice cut through the turmoil. “Sub-Commander T’Pol, put that weapon down!”
Tucker barely had time for relief that Archer had arrived before he realized that even their captain’s forceful order hadn’t had an effect on the Vulcan woman. She was still holding the gun on the alien with never a shake to her hand and Tucker had no doubt that her gaze was completely implacable. “He tried to destroy me.”
“T’Pol,” Archer came into Tucker’s view although, after a brief glance at his chief engineer, he focused on his first officer, “put the gun down.”
“He murdered my people.”
“I’m sure he did,” Archer’s voice had lost the bite of command and was now merely reasonable, “but let’s talk about it before you kill him, T’Pol.”
“He tortured and executed those under my command.”
“Then we’ll see he gets justice.”
“Justice!” Briefly, she flicked a furious look at him. “He does not deserve justice.”
“T’Pol,” speaking was an effort but Tucker managed it, “vengeance isn’t justice, remember. T’Pol … don’t do it.”
“You … do not … understand.” Her voice was
Tucker was frowning at the ceiling of sickbay when Archer interrupted his fairly incoherent thoughts. “I’m getting tired of visiting you in here, Trip.” The older man had always been able to make it clear whether he was Tucker’s captain or his friend. “You look terrible.”
“Thanks.” With Archer’s help, Tucker just managed to haul himself into a sitting position. “I guess that’s why I feel terrible.”
Archer grinned and inched a hip onto the side of the bed. “Phlox says you’ll be fine in a week or so.”
“It’s the ‘or so’ I don’t trust.” Tucker tried to find a more comfortably position and only succeeded in wincing. “How’s T’Pol?”
“If she wasn’t Vulcan, I’d say she was a little embarrassed.” Archer noted that Tucker wasn’t smiling and continued reassuringly, “She’s been doing a lot of meditating, but Phlox doesn’t think that the device used on her has done any lasting damage.”
“So it isn’t the Delphic Expanse that makes Vulcans go crazy?”
Archer grimaced. “I wouldn’t care to be certain of that yet.” He caught the younger man’s eyes and added pointedly, “I don’t care to see a friend in a murderous rage.”
It was Tucker’s turn to grimace as he shifted position, avoiding Archer’s searching look “What did you do with them?”
“With the aliens who captured you?” The question was largely a rhetorical one to buy time. “We let them go. Hear me out, Trip!” for the younger man had started to protest. “What else could we do? There’s no authority to hand them over to and I’m not prepared to kill a dozen people in cold blood. If it’s any consolation, we raided their computer for information.”
“Get anything useful?” Tucker didn’t sound reconciled and Archer had to shake his head.
“No ‘here be Xindi’ signs, but a few leads we can follow up.” He regarded his friend for a moment more. “Trip, if you need to talk …”
“I don’t.” The response was brief and even as Archer’s mouth tightened Tucker added, “I’m sorry, cap’n, but … I really don’t need that sort of crap.”
It could have earned him a reprimand and lost him a friend but Archer only held silent for a moment then nodded, although his expression was regretful as he stood. “As soon as Phlox says you’re well enough, commander, you’ll start working with T’Pol again. That’s still an order. Understood?”
“Night, Trip.” He left the engineer with a friendly squeeze of one shoulder and Tucker leant back, closing his eyes against a sudden and painful rush of memory: Archer laughing, his hand on Lt Commander Tucker’s shoulder as he shoved the most enthusiastic member of his team out of the lab. ‘Trip, it’s your sister’s birthday. Go! We won’t launch without you.’ Lizzie’s birthday, four years before, when she had visited her big brother because he never had the time to come to her; and now he’d never have the chance again.
Tucker felt his throat closing painfully and gritted his teeth, snatching at anger, at the more recent memory of the blasted scar cutting through a shocked and reeling planet. He didn’t care what the rest thought. He’d have revenge for Lizzie and the other seven million dead; and maybe then he’d be able to sleep without the dead stalking his dreams.
Have a comment to make about this story? Do so in the Trip Fan Fiction forum at the HoTBBS!
Four of you have made comments
Difficult to imagine T'Pol eventually falling for Trip. He is at various times, weak, incompetent as an engineer, dependant, cowardly, and downright pathetic.
It wasn't his fault that T'Pol didn't ask him if the beacon's signal was masked? That was his excuse for getting them discovered? Wow.
And is there anything humans are better at than Vulcans?
I'll read on.
An excellent portrayal of Trip undergoing a "dark night of the soul". T'Pol's ordeal, as she unwillingly reverts to a more primitive Vulcan, provides an interesting parallel. Well written, as always!
Nice of Archer to let brutal pirates go so they could hill the next innocents they came across.
Let them go? Archer is a dweeb.