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Who is the Fairest of Them All? - Part II
MU Fic CHALLENGE
Who is the Fairest of Them All?
Disclaimer: I sure do wish I owned these characters…oh what fun I’d have—mu-ah-ah!
A/N: It might help if you read my previous story “The Seduction of Trip” to understand where Trip and T’Pol’s relationship stands on the NX-01 part of this story, but it’s not necessary to enjoy the plot. No spoilers, but a few ideas from "In a Mirror, Darkly;" takes place after "Bound" (or in the mirror universe 'dnouB'). Sorry…I won’t do that all the way through the story…really I won’t.
Ring around the rosy
Tucker walked into Sickbay to a triad of men huddled over a screen. Phlox, Reed and Archer looked up.
“Commander,” Archer came up to him and brought him into the conspiratorial circle around the screen. “We need your expertise—and allegiance…which I know I have.
The way Archer looked menacingly at him negated any doubt of allegiance, Tucker thought ruefully to himself. O.k. I’ll play along, you bastard.
“Of course,” Tucker nodded his head for emphasis and reassurance. “What do ya need?”
“We need…” Reed drawled, “access to the ventilation system of specific quarters…can you do it?” Reed looked pointedly at Tucker with a sneer.
“Yes…it is possible,” Tucker replied, narrowing his eyes for Reed’s benefit, “but ya might tell me what you need it for…it would help me re-route the ventilation system to specific parameters.” There, Tucker thought—asking for information without, hopefully, drawing attention to the fact.
“We need—the Admiral’s quarters—and fast, before he decides to leave.” Archer came right beside Tucker, nostrils flaring in his excitement over the plan he’d devised. “Forrest has been nothing but a pain in the ass—holding us back on our mission—to expand the Empire!”
Tucker’s eyes widened in surprise. Archer was either insane or a fool, he thought. Still, it was risky, and he mentioned this to Archer.
“That’s…an interestin’ move, but honestly,” he tried to sound loyal and concerned, “it seems a little dangerous—what if something goes wrong?” Tucker then moved towards Archer’s ear and whispered, “You’re ass would be grass.”
“Then,” Archer whispered back ominously, “you’d better make sure nothing goes wrong.” Archer stepped back and shouted, “Phlox! Explain the details of our endeavour to Mr. Tucker.”
“Certainly Captain.” Phlox motioned Tucker over to the screen they had been viewing. “Under the Captain’s direction, I looked into the bio-chemistry of the moss from that planet we’ve been orbiting…it has an anaesthetic quality to it…very helpful to me in Sickbay…”
Archer shot him a look, “but I digress,” Phlox touched the screen and another compound’s bio-chemistry lit up the screen, “in order to make the moss’s effect fatal, I cross contaminated a section with a sample of the bio-matter we stole from the Xryillians.”
Phlox moved away from the screen and lifted a cover of one of his menagerie’s cage, “the result was quite painful…and lethal.” The cage’s occupant was clearly dead. “The new compound is delivered in the air…once inhaled, it will work quickly enough so that the Admiral will have no time for alerting anyone for assistance.”
“A bio-weapon?” Tucker was so astonished that he couldn’t help but express it, “Captain, how do you suppose to contain that…” he jabbed a finger at the screen, “…an airborne bio-weapon?” Tucker’s jaw had dropped to the vicinity of his chest. Yup, he considered to himself—no doubt about it, Archer was insane.
“There will be no contamination,” Archer stated firmly to him, “Commander Reed has been working to make sure Forrest’s quarters will be hermetically sealed.”
“Without him noticing?” Trip questioned. Reed came up to him, redder in the face than normal.
“I am rather good at subterfuge Mister Tucker,” Reed licked his lips, “it is my job as the armoury officer and as first officer.”
Tucker could tell that Reed really didn’t want the engineer’s involvement in their ‘scheme’. He was sure Reed felt threatened. Good, Tucker mused, that could be used to my advantage. He turned his back to Reed to irritate him further, and spoke to Archer.
“Captain, I’ll work on this personally…I’ll have the specs for you in an hour,” Tucker paused, “but can I speak to you…” he glanced over his shoulder at the blustered first officer, “privately first?”
Archer smirked slightly at his former friend, “Meet me in my ready room in 10 minutes,” he said quietly to the engineer. More loudly he commanded, “Dismissed,” and left Sickbay.
Tucker waited a beat before following him out the Sickbay doors, without looking back, however he could feel Reed’s glare burning a hole into his back all the way down the corridor.
Trip’s shift in engineering was almost over…and for once he had no desire to work over. He’d left T’Pol sleeping in her quarters eight hours ago and he wanted to check on her. Trip was reviewing the last duty roster on the padd in his office when his comm. Beeped.
“Archer to Tucker”. Trip turned around and tripped the communication button, “Tucker here.” He hoped whatever the Captain wanted wouldn’t take time out of his plan to visit T’Pol.
“Report to Sickbay, we have a bit of a problem on our hands,” Archer didn’t sound pleased.
Damn, Trip thought, “On my way, sir.” He dropped the padd on his desk and started on his way to Sickbay. He was certain that T’Pol hadn’t taken a turn for the worse, he’d have felt that. What could it be?
He walked into Sickbay to see his captain, Phlox and two aliens he assumed were Santonians. Trip had a confused look on his face and looked to Archer for an explanation.
“Commander Tucker,” Archer began the introductions by waving his arm towards the Santonians, “this is Hardwa, lead scientist of their academy and Council leader Radeer.”
Trip nodded to them both, but his confusion increased. I’m neither a scientist nor a diplomat, he thought.
The councillor put a hand up in front of Hardwa’s face to silence her. He continued, “We were surprised you…employed…aliens on your ship,” he glanced at Phlox and continued, “but as we have with other species we’ve dealt with, we were willing to learn from Humans and they way you lived—in fact we looked forward to the cultural exchange.”
Archer’s features tightened, “As I’ve already stated, Phlox and T’Pol are part of my crew…not employees!”
“Yes,” Radeer intoned, “I understand that now. How you Humans treat your aliens is disturbing yet not our concern—until you sent down that Vulcan woman—and we learned that you allow your officer,” he tipped his head towards Trip, “to mate with her.”
Trip’s back went up at that, “What?” He took an intimidating step towards the councillor, “How’s that any or your business?”
The Captain put a reassuring but firm hand on Trip’s arm, “Apparently, the Santonions are xenophobic, information that would have been helpful,” Archer looked down on the two sarcastically, “if you’d told us during our first contact.”
“How precisely were we to know you kept aliens on board?” The councillor responded evenly.
“What the hell does any of this matter anyway? We were gettin’ ready to leave the system today.” Trip shrugged Archer’s arm off his, his head a little cooler now. Who cares what these people thought.
“What matters is how the Santonians learned about what happened here in Sickbay while we were treating T’Pol,” Archer said, “it was someone from our own crew down on the surface, Trip.”
“Yes, it would seem that inter-species mating is not so popular to all Humans,” Radeer smiled at that.
Trip was just about to finish his initial reaction and slug the councillor when Archer stopped him again.
“I’ll ask one more time, what crew members were you discussing this matter with?” Archer looked to the female scientist, and wished he could talk to her alone—he might get more answers that way.
“And as I already intimated,” Radeer sneered, “your staff problems are your own, I’m not getting involved. Now, if we can have the Ryule moss that you collected returned to us—this cultural exchange is over.”
The councillor motioned to Hardwa, who took the container from Phlox, then followed her superior out of Sickbay, with a small glance back to the three men.
Archer looked disappointed as he went to the comm panel, “Archer to Shuttle Bay One”
“Yes sir?” the crewman on duty replied.
“Escort our visitors back down to the Santos and make sure you pick up the crewmen left on the surface.” Archer commanded.
“Yes sir!” the crewman cut the connection and prepared to follow the Captain’s directions.
“Well, personally I’m glad to see the backside of them.” Trip said irritably.
“We have a bigger problem Trip,” the Captain began, “not only do we have to sort through and find our tactless crewmen; I have to file a report to Starfleet on how this contact with the Santonians failed.” Archer looked at his friend, concerned.
Trip let this information sink in, “You’re not tellin’ me you’re gonna tell Starfleet that the Santonians were offended at T’Pol and our involvement?” Trip was aghast at the idea.
“I’m sorry Trip, but yes…I need to make a full report.” Archer knew it was going to be touchy—he disliked the idea about revealing personal information about his crew, but it was pertinent.
Trip leaned against a bio-bed and put his head in his hands, “Oh boy, she’s not going to be happy about this.” He looked up to Archer, “I don’t have to tell you what a pissed off Vulcan is like, do I?”
Archer smiled sardonically at Trip’s attempt at humour, though he supposed it was too close to the truth, “No…but let’s hope Admiral Gardner will be discreet.”
“Is there anyway you can hold off a bit on making your report?” Trip asked, “I’d like to give T’Pol some time to recover more fully before she has to deal with this.”
Archer considered a moment, “A few hours Trip, that’s all I can promise before Gardner calls me looking for an update.”
“Thanks Cap’n,” Trip wasn’t exactly relived, but it’d give him some time to discuss it first with T’Pol.
Archer clapped a hand on Trip’s shoulder, “Good luck my friend.”
Both men looked to Phlox, who glanced back equally concerned for Trip’s predicament, then left Sickbay together, one headed for the bridge, the other headed to T’Pol’s quarters with heavy feet.
Tucker arrived at the Captain’s ready room door exactly ten minutes later, and pressed the door chime to announce his arrival.
“Come in,” Archer said, and motioned for Tucker to sit down once he got through the doors.
Once Tucker sat, Archer instructed, “You wanted to talk—so talk.”
“Captain—I’ll be honest—‘cos I think you can value honesty as well as loyalty,” Tucker began, trying to ‘suss’ out Archer’s reaction, “I’m concerned about your plan…about my role in it.”
“Oh really…pray—do continue,” Archer leaned back in his chair.
“Look, I know I’ve pissed you off in the past…by challengin’ your ideas—your authority—and I’ve paid for that…boy have I paid for that every time Reed sneers at me—but this is different. You’ve asked for my help—and I’m willing to give it,” Tucker quickly added, then continued on with his own plan of attack, “but for what? So you can get Forrest off your back? Who’s to say that his replacement would be any better—or worse for that matter?” Tucker paused to gain information—but tried to look like he was gauging the Captain’s reaction.
Archer leaned over his desk, “I understand your questions—I expected them. I was going to make you first officer because you always knew what questions to ask—and how to get answers. So I’ll answer you. Captain Gardner is standing ready for promotion…and is well aware—and approving I might add—of my plan.”
Archer stood up and began to pace behind his desk—animated now discussing his scheme, “Gardner has promised me access to greater technology—weapons in particular—which will give us an advantage in our conquests!”
He leaned down on his desk again, closer to Trip, “Think of it! Enterprise will not only be the flagship of the Empire—her crew will be the conquerors! Just imagine the rewards well get from the Emperor! Just imagine!”
“What I want to know,” Tucker stood up to face Archer, “is what reward will I get from you to risk my ass on this plan?”
Archer stopped pacing, “I know what you want…but if I demote Reed and promote you—don’t you think he’ll be an even bigger thorn in your side?—I know he’ll become a thorn in mine.”
“You’ve put some thought into this,” Archer sat down, “now I need to.”
“There’s another matter,” Tucker revealed his next step, “T’Pol.”
“What about her?” Archer’s eyes dimmed.
“Once Forrest is taken care of…I want her,” Tucker paused for a reaction.
Archer’s face started to redden, “Now that’s asking a bit much—I’m the Captain—the spoils of war go to me!
Now Tucker was starting to lose his cool. As if T’Pol would want to be loyal to this fool—let alone let him use her body. He took a breath, “T’Pol is loyal to Forrest, but I know her better—I could convince her to be of use to us—to Enterprise. She’d see you as the murderer of her employer.”
“She wouldn’t have much of a choice—I could always have her in Forrest’s quarters when we release the bio-weapon too.” Archer stood, “I have a lot to think about…and I want those specs ASAP. Dismissed!”
Trip turned and left the Ready Room. He had a lot to discuss with T’Pol during their rendezvous this evening—in her quarters.
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A whole mess of folks have made comments
Ooooooooh, Trippy, I'm really enjoying this! I'm absolutely on edge with all the back-stabbing and betrayals going on with our Mirror universe crew and the xenophobic angle that's cropped up with our RU crew was unexpected. You don't really expect that so much with the Enterprise crew. I can't wait to see what happens next - with both crews. :)
I have a sneaking suspision that an Enterprise crew member is a Terra Prime spy on the show...so I'm sorta setting up my next fic that will be a Demons/Terra Prime fic (with a lot less Mayweater storyline! LOL)
Part Three is being written now...might be the conclusion to this M/U fic, but the R/U part will continue...
very interesting story so far. The tensions building up and I can't wait to see where you take this.
still good - interested to see where this is going...
I was a bit confused on one point, though.. you said the Santonians were xenophobic - they looked down on T'Pol and Phlox as "aliens"...but wouldn't humans be aliens to them and vice versa? why the distinction??
Maybe they don't like the idea of mating outside your own species.
COOOL YAY me likey this story
Yes, they viewed the humans as the dominant species in the cultural exchange, and Phlox and T'Pol as somehow inferior...'employees' is how they rationalized it...and yes, they were 'offended' at mating outside the dominant species...I looked up the definition of xenophobia and the meaning still fit.
But how did they find out about Trip and T'Pol?
Great story... I await with baited breath for the next installment!
Can I say this is soooooo interesting. Love the parallels between the two universes, similar but with subtle differences. Anxious to see what happens to Gardiner and T;Pol and who she wants to go with!
I've been writing my little shippy heart out...now I need to type it up...hopefully post it this weekend!
A truly great writer has got to have some key aspects to his/her stories that make them fun to read and darned interesting as well. these are, in my opinion : 1: intruiging characters, with who the reader can identify him/herself, and who make decisions that are unexpected to the reader, 2 : a good, interesting background, which the story is set up against, 3: a storyline which gives information at an exciting yet clear speed, and which is written in a way that the reader can easily imagine him/herself right in the story.
congratulations, you got them all.
oh by the way, KILL REED!
^ thanks for the compliment Klingonraider!
As for Reed...mwah-ha-ha-ha-ha!
Nice job. Can't wait to see their rendevous. MU T/T are fun. :)
Trippy, this story's really cool. Please continue soon, I like it very much.