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Rating: PG-13, general
On the Trail
Trip and Seema paused in front of the hotel room. The door was ajar. Slowly, he pushed it open, while holding out his other arm in front of the young girl trying to keep her out of harm's way.
The lights were on, but it did not appear that anyone was there - at least, not anymore. The room looked like a tornado had struck. The bed was overturned. All of the drawers were open, the contents of which were spilled on the floor.
Trip stood in the middle of the room, trying to remember where he would have left the communicator. He went to tousle his hair but met his long locks. "I've had enough of this mane!"
He stormed into the bathroom, and stopped in front of the mirror. He pulled off the ear prostheses. He then carefully removed the hair extensions, just as Dr. Phlox had instructed him. "There. At least I look like me now. Maybe I will be able to think more clearly."
Seema gave him a puzzled look. "How could one's appearance affect how you think?"
He ignored the question and proceeded to search the room. All of their equipment had been taken. Even the currency that T'pol had brought was gone. They did, thankfully, leave their clothes. He changed into a comfortable pair of pants and a cotton shirt. Now, he really felt like himself again.
"Seema, do you know how I could get a message sent via sub-space? I really need to contact my ship."
"Oh. . . that would cost a lot of money!" She contemplated for a moment. "My brother Athlon, has a very powerful computer. Maybe you could figure out how to send a message with it. I know that he has contacted people on other planets before."
"Would that be the same brother that you told about T'pol and me?"
She lowered her eyes and nodded.
"Don't worry about that." Trip patted her on the head. "Why don't you take me to your house, and I will figure things out from there."
Seema entered her house and looked around for her brother. He was out, likely with his friends. She stuck her head out the back door and motioned to Trip that he could come in. She directed him to the computer.
Trip easily found a way to access communication channels. He was not sure how quickly the transmission would be sent. He kept it brief, to reduce the risk of degradation of the signal. He typed: IN TROUBLE. COME QUICK. TRIP.
As he pushed the 'send' button, he heard a door slam. Seema pointed at a door in the back of the room and whispered, "Hide. It's Athlon."
He stood inside the cramped closet with the door slightly ajar so that he could observe what was happening in the adjoining room. Seema was sitting at the computer, attempting to cover the fact that they had just sent (hopefully) a transmission to Enterprise. A young male walked in and seemed shocked.
"Have I not told you many times to stay away from my things?" He seemed more worried than annoyed.
"I know Athlon. It's just that Kala is vacationing with her family on one of those interstellar cruises, and I promised her that I would send her a message. I wouldn't be a very good best friend if I broke my promise, now would I?" Seema did not hesitate in her reply. Being involved in numerous school plays was paying off for her.
"Get away from that, and get out of my room!"
She jumped out of the chair and bolted out of the room. "This is not your room! And I am going to tell Mother and Father that you were bullying me!"
Trip was impressed with the multiple talents that this young girl seemed to possess. He watched as her brother sat down in front of the monitor. Trying not make any noise, he stretched to see what Athlon was now doing.
He sat at the keyboard, typing for about 1 minute. He appeared relaxed. Suddenly he spun around in his chair and surveyed the room. "Seema!"
From an adjacent room she responded, "Yes, Athlon."
"Oh, never mind." He reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out what looked a communicator. "Hey. Are you there?"
Trip could hear a crackling noise come from the communicator but could not make out what the person on the other end was saying. 'This would be the perfect time to have T'pol and her "good ears" around.'
"We still are unable to locate him. We searched their room and found nothing that would lead us to where he went." Athlon stood up and started pacing, as he listened to the inaudible response.
"We already spoke with the authorities, and they know nothing about him or the Vulcan. But they will be looking for him, now that I reported that he had been seen fleeing from the robbery at the hotel."
Trip could make out a sinister laugh coming from the communicator. He could feel his face start to burn with anger as he realized that this man had something to do with T'pol being taken. He was about to storm out of the closet to confront Athlon and the person to whom he was speaking. Then, as if T'pol had whispered in his ear, he reconsidered. 'It would be more logical to follow him.'
Athlon replaced the communicator in his pocket, and left the room. His footsteps could be heard going up the stairs.
Seema now returned. "Pssst. He has gone upstairs to his room. It is safe to come out for now."
Stepping out of the closet, he looked appreciatively at Seema. "Phew. That was close. I'm sorry to tell you this but your brother had something to do with my friend's disappearance. I am going to follow him. Maybe he will take me to her."
"Come on. I will keep an eye on him while you wait out back."
They cautiously exited. Seema pointed to a shed in the yard. "Hide in there. We never use it anyway." She re-entered the house and went to sit in the kitchen.
About 20 minutes had elapsed before Seema came back to find Trip. "He just left out the front door. You should hurry."
"Thanks." As he started to jog, he noticed that she was following. "You shouldn't come. It could be dangerous, and I couldn't live with myself if something happened to you."
She stopped. "Good luck. You know where to find me if you need me again."
Seema watched him as he continued down the street. After he turned the corner, she reconsidered her decision to stay behind. 'I would never forgive myself if something should happen to you too.' She started her pursuit.
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