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Author - Thinkey | E | Genre - Angst | Genre - Mystery | Genre - Romance | Main Story | Rating - PG-13
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"And?" came the distorted voice.
"Successful. They have responded to the radio frequency you have provided. They know what they have to do," Silik informed the man. A loud hum sounded as the hologram shimmered in and out of existence. Silik's green skin rippled toadjust to the temporal wave passing through the room.
"Very good. And do they understand the extent of our participation?" the hologram inquired. Silik nodded. "Yes, they do. They do not understand the extent of what you are trying to accomplish, but I believe they will do as they are told." Silik himself didn't fully comprehend why it was so important to proceed in this manner - the Suliban were a more confrontational race than this one. He wasn't going to question their wisdom, however. Anyone from the future must know what's best.
"As expected. We cannot completely destroy this timeline, which is why they must proceed as they have done before. My people from my time, however, will take care of Enterprise and its crew." The communication was broken for several seconds as the hologram jittered. Silik waited patiently as it came back to normal. "Jonathan Archer must not be allowed to attend the signing of Treaty of Algeron in 8 years."
Silik bowed his head. "As it should be."
The hologram flickered several more times and then disappeared before him. Silik looked up in wonder. He wasn't meant to understand exactly what was happening or would happen. He didn't question it. As he turned slowly and began walking towards the room's exit, his thoughts wandered back to the human named Daniels he had killed months ago. The entire situation was bigger than any of them. Silik was glad to be a loyal servant to his acquaintances from the future.
It was late evening and they were seated at the dinner table in the captain's personal dining room. Captain Jonathan Archer watched his second in command curiously as she reached for the chopsticks neatly placed beside her plate. This was the moment of truth. Slowly and ever-so-meticulously, T'Pol grasped the two small sticks between her fingers. Her gaze switched between her hand, the plate, and the two men at the table. Jon turned to Trip and they shared a grin. If she didn't have it down path this time, she never would.
Without hesitation, she dipped the chopsticks into her plate, retrieving several morsels of food. Her hand held the sticks firmly as she bought the food up to her mouth, taking it in without a problem. She then looked up, a self-satisfied look showing though her stern features.
"Well, I'll be damned. She finally did it," Trip quipped with a grin as he began to dig into his own food.
Jon smiled warmly and nodded in T'Pol's direction. The Vulcan simply nodded back curtly and continued picking at the food on her plate.
Trip glanced up for a moment and smiled. "I never thought you had it in you, T'Pol."
T'Pol peered in his direction. "There is a great deal you do not know about me, Commander."
Jon sat quietly, watching the exchange as Trip straightened up in his seat, his gaze fixed on T'Pol. He finished chewing his food before he spoke, "You're not exactly what I would call an 'open book' by any means, Sub-Commander."
"As it should be," T'Pol replied, ignoring his challenge and returning her attention to eating.
Jon could see Trip forging ahead, preparing his reply, and decided it was time to end this particular discussion before it got out of hand. "It's nice to know that human cuisine isn't above Vulcans. And we can all be a little secretive about ourselves from time to time."
Trip sighed in resignation to the argument and gave T'Pol an apologetic nod. Jon wondered at times why both of them agreed to having dinner with him - especially on the same occasion. Their working relationship the past year had gone from nearly hostile to a favorable banter, but that didn't stop them from tossing a few witty remarks at one another from time to time. There were moments when Jon was sure T'Pol enjoyed participating in the debate with his chief engineer.
"Agreed," T'Pol replied.
"Which brings me to why I invited both of you here tonight." Jon was rewarded with the curiosity of both parties. Trip looked a little worried while T'Pol's features revealed nothing. Jon hadn't bothered to tell her about this mission, opting to wait until this dinner to tell them the news. "I have an away mission for both of you."
"The Sub-Commander and I?" Trip asked.
"Yes," Jon replied. "There's a Vulcan colony 15 light years in our path on Corinos Prime ? a retreat of some sort. Anyway, they're due for an upgrade on their environmental systems. I thought you could accompany the Sub-Commander to the planet to conduct repairs."
"May I ask how long this mission will be, Captain?" T'Pol asked. There was a hint of doubt in her voice as she awaited his reply.
"Two, maybe three days. We're going to drop you two off on the planet with a shuttle and the supplies you need for the repairs. We'll continue out mapping the territory and return for you both after we have finished."
"Captain, I'm sure I could send along Lieutenant Parsons to conduct the repairs ? he's more than capable of ?"
"Trip, I've told the Vulcans you'll be coming. And you will," Jon clarified. Trip sulked in his chair as T'Pol kept a firm gaze on the Captain.
"When do we leave?" T'Pol said and arched an eyebrow.
"Fine and dandy," Trip muttered.
The table fell silent again as a few looks were exchanged. Jon smiled merrily, despite the lingering ill-feeling that surrounded the table. In his mind, he felt that this would be a great mission for both of them, giving them a chance to bridging the last gap between their personalities. It might have felt like a tall order at the moment, but Jon was confident about his decision.
"It's not going to work, Malcolm, our systems can't seem to handle these torpedoes."
Reed gazed down the torpedo launchers one more time and sighed. They both stood up from the torpedo tube and made their way over to a table where the new Photon Torpedo sat. Trip felt there would be more of these to come from their intriguing weapons officer. This one, however, looked like it was going to fail miserably.
"I don't understand it. The warhead on the torpedo is shaped like our normal torpedoes', and besides, it should work the same as it would in any other shape. The torpedo itself is guided by Enterprise's computer system and so is the detonation." Reed slapped his hands down on the table as he stared at the torpedo, deep in thought.
"Maybe it's the Photon Torpedo itself that doesn't want to work. It's not something we know a lot about," Trip pointed out, only to be met by Reed's icy stare.
"Ridiculous. This torpedo is configured as closely as possible to the ones we've studied on the Klingon ships. I've even run computer simulations on the damned thing - it works," Reed countered.
Trip smiled slightly. "Well, I'll leave you to it, Malcolm. The Captain wants T'Pol and me to depart in 45 minutes."
Reed looked up, his attention suddenly diverted. "Ah yes, the Vulcans. I certainly don't envy you in that case. I'll take my weapons any day." He shifted around the table with a hyperspanner in hand and began tinkering with the torpedo. Trip wondered ifthat was all this man cared about.
"That's all right for you. I'll do my best with the Vulcans. See you in a few days." Trip turned and moved towards the door of the armory.
He stopped in his tracks as Reed spoke up again. "Did you think about taking any phase pistols?"
Trip sighed. "Malcolm, they're Vulcans - my human behavior will be more than enough."
"Very well," Reed replied without looking at him.
Trip shook his head as he hit the keypad and stepped through the open door. Malcolm Reed was definitely one of a kind. As he walked down the corridor, Trip mentally did a check on all the stuff he needed for the mission - it seemed he had everything he would need, with the possible exception of extra patience when dealing with theVulcans. Trip knew Jon expected him to be on his best behavior, but three days in acompound full of Vulcans could very well take a toll on anyone.
This definitely wasn't his mission of choice. Being away from Engineering for so long was hard enough, but being with T'Pol and the Vulcans was definitely adding insult to injury. Not that he had anything against T'Pol - it was just the fact that it would be three days with her as the only person he knew. What was it about her that irritated him so badly? He couldn't for the life of him figure it out. At times, he felt hewas automatically programmed to be irritated by the pointed-eared, green-blooded people.
He stepped into his cabin to collect his stuff before going down to the shuttlebay. His duffle bag sat on the bed where he had left it earlier that morning.
However, instead of reaching for it, Trip found himself staring at the picture of him and his former girlfriend Natalie which still remained on his night table. It didn't dawn on him that he should move it before - and deep inside he knew he wasn't ready to move it just yet. It wouldn't feel right. At the beginning of this mission, he had been eager to get out into space and see the universe, but the thought had never dawned on him that he would miss so much of what he had back home. Since his letter from Natalie months back, that thought was always roaming around in the back of his mind. Like a ghost, the thought came back to haunt him on sleepless nights.
Trip shook the thought off yet again, deciding he might as well get it overwith and head down to the shuttle bay for departure. He grabbed the duffle bag, tossed it over his shoulder, and took one more look around the room before he turned and headed out of his quarters.
T'Pol sat quietly in the cockpit of the shuttle doing a pre-flight check.
Her thoughts, however, were concentrated on the mission before her. The captain's logic in sending her on this mission with Commander Tucker seemed flawed. Her expertise would serve better on Enterprise than on a repair mission with Mr. Tucker. She debated the thought and came to the conclusion that it could be for one of two reasons, or both. Either the captain didn't want Mr. Tucker to be alone with her people, or he wasopposed to having one-person away missions.
The back hatch opened, alerting her to the presence of another person. There was a loud thump of the door closing in the background as she heard footsteps approaching her position.
"You know, it's good manners to greet someone when they enter a room - or a shuttlepod," Trip said as he took the seat behind her and to her right.
"I was doing a pre-flight check, Commander. It is standard procedure," T'Pol explained as she continued with the checks. Trip leaned forward, running a check onthe shuttlepod engine.
"I have already checked the engines, Commander," she stated. Her stern expression turned to meet his pouty glare. Again, she ignored this and continued with her work.
"So you did," Trip quipped sarcastically as he rested back in his seat, watching T'Pol finish up the flight check. Three minutes in the shuttlepod and he was frustrated already. What was it about her that irritated him so badly? He couldn't for the life of him figure it out.
"Archer to Shuttlepod 3: We're now in orbit of the planet. Are you readyto disembark?"
"Yes, Captain," T'Pol replied. "Commander Tucker is now aboard and I have completed the pre-flight check."
"Trip?" Archer asked over the comm.
"Sure, Captain, all ready to go down here. Just give the word," Trip replied nonchalantly. The shuttlebay doors began to open below them as T'Pol guided the shuttlepod out of the ship. The moderately deserted planet below shone brightly through their viewport.
"See you in a few days."
The comm channel went blank as the shuttlepod sailed down toward the atmosphere. There was a thump as they began their descent through the upper level of the stratosphere. "Easy on the thrusters there, T'Pol," Trip warned. "It's not a Vulcan craft you're flying here."
"I am well aware of that, Commander," T'Pol replied as she adjusted the controls. The ship suddenly fell into a smooth glide towards the land below. She tossed a look in his direction and he said nothing.
The shuttlepod continued down toward the planet. "Have you had the opportunity to review the planetary environmental system, Commander?"
"I have. It shouldn't take more than a few days to fix. I've been thinking about taking a hiking trip along the mountain chain on the northern continent once I finish up." Trip had studied some topographic and meteorological maps of the planet. The planet was a Lishara-class planet: slightly colder and harsher than a Minshara-class planet, but still habitable. The Vulcans were in one of the colder regions of the planet --why, Trip wasn't going to hazard a guess. The environmental system was used to keep a section of the planet temperate during its winter season, apparently. They were now coming into late fall and that system needed to be fixed soon or they would have to relocate.
Trip didn't expect the repairs to take long, though. He had never had a first-hand look at a true environmental system before, but he had studied the schematics of the one they were planning on implementing on Mars within the next few years. It had been almost 50 years since humans had begun to seriously consider colonizing Mars - the new system would make the planet fully habitable within five years.
The shuttlepod broke through the layer of clouds, revealing a lush green planet below them. It definitely didn't look like a Lishara-class planet with the systeminstalled. A beige-brown section of the lower hemisphere caught his eye, and he realized that it had to be because of the environmental system failure two months ago. It was amazing what such a system could do to a planet - but it also gave him an eerie feeling to see a planet so quickly stripped of what was there not so long ago.
"It is...unwise for you to travel alone in an uninhabited part of the planet. Perhaps one of the colonists will be willing to accompany you," T'Pol offered.
Trip's idea of a lovely, quiet, peaceful hike in the mountains was crushed at the thought.
"No, T'Pol, I'll be fine by myself. I could use a little time alone." He hoped she would drop the topic. His luck was running low today, though.
"Is something troubling you, Commander? Perhaps I could be of assistance."
It was the last thing Trip wanted to hear. He couldn't even imagine T'Pol providing counsel to him. He tolerated her and respected her, even kept secrets like she had wished, but he was a long way from calling her a friend.
"Nothing you should be concerned about, Sub-Commander. Sometimes people just need time to themselves." Truthfully, however, he just didn't want to be bothered by the Vulcans - or bother them for longer than needed. He considered his decision a benefit to all parties involved.
The shuttlepod glided down to the landing pad of the small colony. T'Pol initiated the landing procedure and the pod came to the ground with a soft thump. Trip stood up from his seat, made his way to the back of the shuttle, and retrieved his gear as T'Pol powered down the pod. He keyed in the code to release the hatch, but he was interrupted by T'Pol's voice behind him.
"Do not exit. I will accompany you."
"Whatever you say," Trip said, standing with the duffle bag over his shoulder as she stepped into the back of the pod and retrieved her small personal bag, which was more like an overnight bag despite the fact that they were staying for three days. Would wonders never cease? Eyeing him keenly, she approached him as he extended his arm, telling her to take the lead. She stepped ahead of him and out of the pod's side door onto the platform outside.
"You're welcome," Trip offered as he stepped out behind her and looked around as the pod door closed slowly behind them. He looked from left to right in confusion. "Where the hell is everyone?"
"Perhaps they are in the compound this way," T'Pol replied as she pointed to a building off in the distance, which was surrounded by trees.
Trip noticed that the place was very well kept. Beautiful gardens of flora surrounded the place, giving everything a very un-Vulcan feeling. He gathered that eitherVulcans had a fond appreciation for botany that humans didn't know about - or else these were the fun-loving Vulcans they had never had the chance to meet in the past hundred years and no one spoke about. They walked over to stone steps that led to the mainentrance.
"T'Pol, are you sure this is normal? Weren't they supposed to meet us, like...over there?" Trip pointed back.
He followed T'Pol down the steps and to the door as she knocked. He looked around again, seeing no signs of life other than themselves. The memory of Reed asking him about weapons crossed his mind, but he shook it off. They had run some scans and there were no signs of Andorians in the area. They would not have a repeat of their last encounters with those people.
"The Captain contacted the Vulcans this morning," T'Pol knocked at the door. "They were ready for our arrival." There was a slight unease in her voice as she stood beside the door, waiting for it to open. It did not. "Perhaps they have retreated somewhere for meditation."
"A guess, T'Pol? Maybe we should go back," Trip suggested. This time he leaned forward and knocked on the door. Still no response. He was about to turn around and head back to the shuttlepod when T'Pol reached for the door handle and pushed the door inside. She stepped into the dimness of the interior room as Trip gulped slightly, wishing he had bought the weapons.
"Or we could go in," he added in a uncharacteristically squeaky voice. Re-shifting his duffle bag on his shoulder, he followed her in.
The room was dim, but deserted as well. T'Pol took out her scanner and scanned the room for life signs. "There appears to be no one here."
"At all?" Trip asked as she stepped around the room, gazing into some open rooms to make sure for himself. There was definitely no one around. He turned to T'Pol, hoping for some reaction. Instead, she approached a table to the side of the room and activated a computer screen. Trip walked over to see what she was looking at.
"There is a message here, intended for us," T'Pol scrolled through the letter as he looked on. "They had to leave the planet suddenly - no reason given. However, it does say that you should conduct repairs as asked." She turned to him, her face the picture of calm.
"And this doesn't seem strange to you at all, T'Pol? Even in the slightest?" Trip asked, still jittery about the whole situation. Was it common practice for Vulcans to disappear when waiting for visitors?
"No. I believe it is safe to remain," T'Pol replied, ignoring his other question. "Captain Archer has undoubtedly left orbit by now."
Trip still didn't feel convinced. "Just great," he sighed as he gazed around the room. The whole situation didn't feel right at all. A thought suddenly dawned on him. "What are you going to do down here for the three days?"
"I will remain busy," T'Pol closed the computer screen and stood up from the table.
"Doing...?" Trip asked in confusion. He followed her through another set of doors and into a corridor.
"Research," she explained as she reached a door.
Trip stopped and stared at her, waiting for some other indication of what she was doing.
"These are empty quarters - you are planning on sleeping these next few days, correct?" T'Pol asked.
"Of course," Trip replied as she stepped into the room before them. "How about you, Sub-Commander? I hear Vulcans can go for over ten days without sleep." Hefound the light source and passed his hand over it, illuminating the room. Vulcans were the poster people of efficiency and logic. There was a small bed positioned neatly against the wall; besides the light and the bed, there was nothing in the room. He sighed, dumped his duffle bag onto the bed, and came back out.
"Vulcans can go for approximately 13.5 days without sleep before experiencing great... lapses in judgment," T'Pol replied. From the way she looked, Trip wondered if she felt that she had just divulged one of their greatest secrets to him.
"You mean Vulcans can actually experience bad judgment? Wow, T'Pol, you Vulcans never cease to amaze me," Trip teased and waited for a reaction.
"It can happen," she replied as she turned and entered the door across the hallway. Trip stood outside waiting, contemplating what it would take to actually seethat personally. Certainly the deed would need to be mountainous.
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