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Author - Shouldknowbetter | Genre - Action/Adventure | Genre - Romance | Main Story | R | Rating - PG-13
Fan Fiction Main Page | Stories sorted by title, author, genre, and rating
Summary: A planet holds unexpected treasure for Enterprise’s crew.
Disclaimer: Paramount owns the characters, the Star Trek franchise and the universe. I just use them for my own private, non-profit making amusement.
T’Pol’s voice was cool as she announced firmly, “This is not working.”
“Yes, it is!” Tucker sounded defensive.
“There is no evidence to support your claim.”
“We just have to give it time.”
“Without shared interests, a relationship is unsustainable.”
“What about physical attraction?”
“It cannot form the basis for a lasting commitment.”
The engineer sighed and turned to watch two of their colleagues playing pool. “I thought you said that Hoshi liked Malcolm.”
“She does. However, it would appear that Lieutenant Reed does not reciprocate.”
“I thought he was desperate enough not to be so fussy.” That earned him a hard stare and he shrugged apologetically and took another glance behind him. “You’d think he’d at least take the chance for a quick grope.”
He scowled back. “Why the hell am I back to being ‘commander’?”
“We are not alone.”
“So? It’s not like I’m trying to kiss you or anything.”
The pool game broke up before an argument could break out, Sato leaving the recreation room and Reed wandering disconsolately over to his two senior officers. The Englishman dropped into a seat and took a swig of beer, scowling. “Why are you two spending so much time together?”
T’Pol gave him a blank look, making a mental note to avoid Reed in future when he was off duty since he had clearly learnt some very bad manners from Tucker, and the engineer deflected the question with one of his own. “Why don’t you just ask Hoshi out, Malcolm?”
“Oh, yes, I can see that working. ‘Ensign Sato, why don’t you come and see my armoury some time?’ There’s no privacy on this ship.”
“Privacy should not be necessary for simple conversation,” T’Pol pointed out constructively – at least, she meant it to be constructive. “You could ask her to dine with you in the mess hall.”
“Now I’m getting dating advice from a Vulcan! If you’ll excuse me, sirs, I think I’ll have an early night.”
Regretfully, Tucker watched his friend leave. “I hate to admit it, darling, but you may be right.”
“I requested you not to address me in that manner in public.”
He sighed. “There’s no one within 5m and humans don’t hear as well as you. D’you know anyone else who likes Malcolm?”
“Maybe we’ll have to give up our career as matchmakers. Wanna play pool?”
“It is time for my meditation.”
“OK.” Tucker gave her a searching look. “Need me tonight?”
T’Pol looked away, the faintest of frowns marring her smooth face. “I do not wish to impose.”
“What?” He kept his voice very low to ensure they could not be overheard. “A beautiful woman, who just so happens to be the beautiful woman I love, wants me to sleep with her? Not what I call an imposition.”
“I am not able to allow you to …”
“It’s only been a few days. I can wait until you’re ready.”
“My behaviour is not logical.”
“And that’s not your fault.” He knocked back the last of his beer and stood, stretching, his sweatshirt riding up to bare his stomach, causing T’Pol to look hurriedly away before she succumbed to the urge to stroke it. “You go ahead. I need to stop by Engineering and pick up a few reports.”
She preceded him to the door, avoiding eye contact. “I will accompany you.”
Out of sight behind her, Tucker didn’t have to hide his concern. The rest of Enterprise’s crew might think that their first officer was her normal capable and unemotional self, but he had good reason to know otherwise. His newly acquired lover was a mess. She might still glare in public if he tried to touch or if he slipped verbally – and that was an issue they would have to address at some point – but in private all she wanted was to be cuddled and he would have been flattered if he hadn’t been damn sure that it wasn’t just affection that kept her crawling into his lap. Add to that the fact that she had just confirmed his suspicion that she was reluctant to be alone and he was even more concerned than he was delighted that the woman he loved had at last let their relationship progress. And if, two years ago, someone had told him that he would be worried because a Vulcan was acting too emotional, he would have laughed in their face.
The comm. sounded before they were more than a few metres from the doors of the rec. room. “All senior officers report to the situation room.”
Archer shot a faintly suspicious look at Tucker and T’Pol as they joined the rest around the conference table – Reed wasn’t the only one to have noticed the amount of time they were spending together, although the captain at least knew the background – but Tucker only looked innocently back and clasped his hands behind him in gentle mimicry of the woman beside him. T’Pol merely looked inscrutable. “Captain?” Her voice suggested nothing except slightly bored courtesy.
“We’ve received a request for help from the Vulcan High Command.” One of T’Pol’s eyebrows climbed in scepticism of the claim. “It seems that they’ve mislaid one of their scientists, a Professor Tossan.”
“Was that their precise wording, sir?” Reed’s expression suggested enjoyment of the predicament and Archer had to work to keep his own amusement under control.
“Not exactly, Lieutenant. Apparently Professor Tossan took off in his private ship and is believed to have crossed into an area of disputed space between Vulcan and Andoria. The Vulcans don’t want to provoke an incident with the Andorians, so they’ve asked Enterprise to go take a look.”
“How’d someone slip across the border?” Tucker queried. “I thought both sides sat there staring at each other.”
“That’s the interesting part.” Archer’s tone suggested that interesting was an understatement. “Professor Tossan’s ship was cloaked.”
“His private ship had a cloaking device!”
T’Pol gave the engineer a cool look. “Professor Tossan has been Vulcan’s leading specialist in stealth technology for the last ten decades. It is hardly surprising that he should equip his own vessel.”
“I wouldn’t give my own ship a warp five engine!” Everyone looked at him. “OK, so maybe I would.”
“Do we know why this professor would want to enter Andorian space, captain?” Reed asked, not as easily sidetracked as Tucker, and Archer shook his head.
“Absolutely none. Unless you have any further information, T’Pol?”
“I do not. However, Professor Tossan is in his twenty first decade. It is possible that he was simply … confused.”
“He’s 200?” Tucker asked in disbelief and T’Pol looked serenely back.
“Jeez,” he muttered under his breath and crossed his arms, sure sign of unease.
“Stealth technology’s not something you want to fall into the wrong hands.” Reed again pulled the debate back on course. “Can I request that we run a few system checks on the weapon systems and hull plating generators, sir?”
“I was going to ask you to do just that, Malcolm.” Archer could not quite suppress a smile. “Ensign Mayweather, set a course for the Vulcan/Andorian border and engage at warp 4. Trip, are there any problems down in Engineering that I need to know about?”
“No, sir, Enterprise is ready for action. Just try not to dent her, huh?”
“I’ll do my best. T’Pol, given that we’re dealing with Vulcan-based stealth technology here, is there anything you can do with Enterprise’s sensors to give us an edge?”
“No. The data is classified.”
Archer pursed his lips, scowling at her from under lowered brows, but didn’t bother arguing. Either she would decide to help or she wouldn’t and he’d rarely got her to budge. “How long to the border, Travis?”
“About eighteen hours, sir, if Mr Tucker’s engines hold up.”
“Then get a night’s sleep, everyone. We’ll start on this one in the morning.”
“I’ll just make a start on …”
“You too, Malcolm. That’s an order.”
Normally Tucker woke a few minutes before the alarm went off and the next morning was no different but even the incessant bleeping didn’t disturb the woman curled up beside him. He deactivated it and then set about waking her up in a more pleasant manner, although when she finally opened her eyes they were so unfocussed he doubted that his efforts had been appreciated.
“Charles.” T’Pol rubbed her eyes like a sleepy child and he smiled tenderly.
“Morning.” This time she probably did notice his kiss, but afterwards she just snuggled up to his chest again, yawning and looking ready to go straight back to sleep. “T’Pol, darling, you have to go tell the doctor about this.” She mumbled a negative and he frowned, stroking her hair. “You normally need … what? … four hours sleep a night? You’re sleeping eight hours straight and you’re still tired in the morning.”
“He knows,” she muttered and he shook his head.
“Sorry, honey, but I don’t believe you. This only started after he discharged you. Please, T’Pol, go see him.” There was no response and he sat up, pushing her with him and shaking her gently by the shoulders. “Go see Phlox. This morning. Promise?” Finally she nodded sleepily and then yawned into his shoulder, once more trying to lean against him. “Oh no, darling.” Regretfully he held her away. “I’d love to cuddle you some more, but we got work to do. C’mon, T’Pol.” He hauled her upright. “Let’s get you woken up properly. Shower time.”
No one questioned Enterprise’s passage across the invisible border between Vulcan and Andorian space, for which Archer was grateful. He hadn’t wanted to lie to anyone but his orders were to keep the Andorians ignorant of his mission if at all possible and explaining Starfleet’s sudden interest in a fairly boring region of space would have tested his ingenuity – particularly if someone had noticed that Enterprise had just been having a friendly chat with a Vulcan ship on the other side of the border. On the other hand, a little more information on the likely movements of the missing scientist would have been helpful. Fortunately, the operational characteristics of Vulcan civilian vessels were not classified, so T’Pol and Mayweather were able to collaborate on a search strategy and then all they had to do was implement it; tedious but routine.
Space being vast and Tossan’s ship small, it was a couple of days before the sensors finally spotted an anomaly. T’Pol bent over her scanner to investigate further then looked around at Archer. “I believe we have located the craft, captain.”
He nodded acknowledgement. “Travis, take us in closer. Any sign of activity, sub-commander?”
“None.” She was again running checks. “The vessel appears to be drifting and I am not detecting any lifesigns on board.”
Archer grimaced; bringing back a corpse hadn’t figured highly in his brief. “Malcolm, prepare the grappler to bring Professor Tossan’s ship on board. Hoshi, have Phlox meet us down there. T’Pol.” She joined him in the lift. “Exactly what is the life expectancy for a Vulcan, sub-commander?”
“It varies from individual to individual.”
“Professor Tossan is approaching the end of his natural span.”
“So he could just have died?”
“Since I am sure that Dr Phlox will be able to answer your question adequately, captain, I prefer not to speculate.”
Archer sighed; he’d rather hoped that Trip would have a … relaxing … influence on his first officer but he’d seen no sign of it yet.
The Vulcan vessel was a little larger than one of Enterprise’s shuttle pods and far more sleekly designed. In fact, it screamed ‘boy racer’ at Archer although he kept that thought to himself; he was fairly sure that there was some terribly logical reason for its external configuration. Frivolity fled, however, once they had the hatch open and found that the small ship was deserted. There wasn’t even a corpse for Phlox to investigate, just the scattered remains of a meal and atonal music playing softly in the background.
T’Pol crossed to a control panel to deactivate it. “It was on continuous replay.”
Archer frowned around the cabin. “Ever heard of the Mary Celeste, sub-commander?”
“It was a sailing ship. Found drifting just like this, no sign of the crew, food left on the plates. One of Earth’s great unsolved mysteries.”
“No doubt the investigation was not conducted logically. I suggest that you allow Lt Reed to conduct a forensic study of the interior of this vessel, whilst I study its sensor logs.”
“You do that, sub-commander. I’ll brief Malcolm and get Trip to take a look at the ship’s systems.”
“That would not be appropriate.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“This vessel contains classified equipment. Commander Tucker is entirely incapable of restricting himself to an investigation of relevant areas.”
Archer pursed his lips. “Very well, sub-commander, I take your point. But if we haven’t got anywhere in the next six hours, I’m calling Trip in on this. You’ll just have to supervise him.” T’Pol gave him a scathing look and turned back to the control panel, leaving Archer to reflect that he would have to give up on trying to tease her. It looked as if he just hadn’t got the knack; or possibly dark blond hair, blue eyes and an impudent grin.
T’Pol was analysing the sensor logs when it happened, even though her full attention was focussed on her task. There was no warning. One instant there was a computer screen in front of her then instead there was a dead body, throat torn out, red blood everywhere. It lasted no more than a couple of seconds then she was staring at the screen again, starting to gasp for breath, heart racing. Logic told her that there was no cause for concern, but logic could not stop the rush of fear. “T’Pol to Commander Tucker.”
“T’Pol,” he knew instantly that something was wrong, she had allowed the distress to creep into her voice, “where are you?”
“In the science lab.”
“I’ll be right there.”
Tucker couldn’t have been far away. It was less than three minutes – T’Pol knew, she counted seconds – before he appeared and she dived into his arms, pressing against his hard body. It was illogical but she needed him.
He hugged her tightly, stroking her back. “What’s wrong?”
“I saw you again … dead.”
He swore more viciously than she had ever heard. “When I get my hands on Soval, I’m gonna rip his throat out!”
“He would kill you first,” she mumbled into his shoulder. “Vulcans are far stronger than humans.”
“Yeah, I know.” He was struggling to breathe. “Ease up a bit, T’Pol, or you’ll put me in sickbay.” She hastily relaxed her grasp somewhat but made no attempt to move away. “Did you see Phlox?” The dark head rocked against his shoulder and he sighed with irritation. “You gotta, darling. You’ve not had flashbacks when you’re awake before.” Dreams, yes, that had her screaming and sobbing until he could cuddle her quiet again, but he rather thought this was more serious.
“I do not want to tell him. It is private!”
“I know.” A hand was stroking her hair and T’Pol felt her muscles starting to relax and the invidious drag of fatigue. “But we gotta get you well again. You don’t want to rely on having me around all the time, do you?”
At the moment that seemed like a very pleasant solution, but T’Pol sleepily supposed that her human was correct. She wasn’t well and this un-Vulcan-like vulnerability could not be allowed to continue. It was just so nice to have someone to hold her, look after her, let her sleep whenever she wanted. She yawned and sagged heavily into Tucker’s arms … and was shaken sharply as he stepped back.
“No! No sleeping!”
“I am tired.”
“You can’t be.” A hand gripped her chin, forcing her head up. “T’Pol, listen to me! You are not well. Now, are you gonna go see the doctor, or am I gonna take you there?”
“I will go.” When she had the time. When she wasn’t so tired. After Charles had remembered that he loved her and let her sleep some more.
“OK.” Tucker stepped right away from the Vulcan woman, frowning as she blinked, only gradually seeming to focus on her surroundings again. For a moment longer, the expression of confusion and need remained then it smoothed out, to be replaced by her normal calm. “Good girl. Find anything in those sensor logs?”
When they reconvened in the situation room a couple of hours later, the results were disappointingly uninformative. The records from Tossan’s ship might or might not have shown that another vessel approached, a singularly useless piece of information that Tucker explained away in something close to disgust. “The sensors hadn’t been upgraded since the ship was commissioned, cap’n, and they hadn’t been maintained either. We’re not gonna get anything more from them.”
Archer sighed. So much for Vulcan technological superiority. “Malcolm?”
“Andorians, sir. We found enough DNA samples in the ship for Dr Phlox to identify his likely abductors as Andorians. They appear to have entered through the main airlock and exited the same way.”
“Professor Tossan had quite an array of medication on board. I asked Dr Phlox to run an analysis but I haven’t seen the results yet.”
“Dr Phlox passed his findings on to me,” T’Pol reported briefly and Archer looked enquiringly at her.
She seemed reluctant to continue. “Professor Tossan is suffering from a degenerative disease that can affect elder Vulcans.”
“What are the consequences of him not receiving medication?”
“His symptoms will grow worse.”
“I think we could have guessed that! Is his life in danger?”
Archer decided that further questioning would almost certainly be non-productive. “Ensign Mayweather, have you been able to identify a likely candidate for the ship that kidnapped Professor Tossan?”
“I think so, sir. There’s a warp trail that passes through these coordinates and from its decay pattern, the timeframe’s about right.”
“Good work. Where’s it heading?”
“Course 492 Mark 216. Straight into Sector 202.” The young man said it with extreme significance then looked around at the blank faces of his colleagues. “You’ve never heard of Sector 202?” There were shakes of the head all around. “Well, the story goes that it’s an empty area of space, no planets of interest, no people, nothing – except in one solar system there’s a great treasure being guarded against the future, waiting for the time to be right for it to be found. But no one can locate it and anyone who goes hunting for the treasure never comes back.”
“More ghost stories, Travis?” Tucker asked wryly and the other shrugged a trifle sheepishly.
“Just what I was always told, sir.”
“The area has been thoroughly mapped by Vulcan ships,” T’Pol pointed out in the manner of one putting the matter to bed. “Ensign Mayweather is correct in that the area is devoid of interest. However the presence of ‘treasure’ is surely mere foolishness.”
“Well, whatever the reason, our abductors are heading that way, so that’s our course.” Archer drew the session to a close. “Lay in the heading, Travis, and proceed at warp 3. Malcolm, I want us ready for action. Let’s go, people.” They scattered, Archer keeping a discreet eye on his chief engineer, but the man headed off the bridge with Reed, who was badgering for more power for something or another, neither paying their science officer the slightest attention. To be fair, neither Tucker nor T’Pol had let any sign of their new relationship appear on duty, but Archer was still watching to make sure it never did.
It took them nearly three days to reach a solar system, during which time they saw no trace of the other ship beyond its elusive warp trail and then even that abruptly vanished.
“They’ve got to be here!” Mayweather protested. “The warp trail ends 250,000km from the fifth planet. That’s got to be where they were heading. There’s no warp trail leading away.”
“T’Pol?” Archer repeated the request for information he had first made five minutes before and the science officer looked up from her scanner.
“There is no trace of a ship on the fifth planet, nor in orbit, nor in the vicinity of its natural satellites. However, Ensign Mayweather is correct in that the warp trail ends here.”
“I currently have none.”
“Could they have deployed whatever stealth technology they managed to extract from Professor Tossan?” Reed suggested, but Tucker slowly shook his head, more in speculation than outright disagreement.
“I wouldn’t have thought so.” He was studying a readout on the engineering console. “Their warp signature remainded stable. If they’d been deploying new technology – and I’m guessing it would have a heavy power drain – I’d have expected to see a change.”
“Captain,” T’Pol was again bent over her scanner, “I have been able to map the course of the ship through the system once it dropped out of warp. It does indeed appear to have entered the orbit of the fifth planet and begun descent, but then it disappears.”
“I am detecting no debris.” She turned to face Archer. “It is possible that some sort of interference is preventing the scanners from penetrating the atmosphere.”
“To protect the treasure!” Mayweather said excitedly and received a reproving look.
“It is entirely feasible, ensign, that the effect is natural.”
“I don’t get it.” Tucker was frowning at his board, where he had been reviewing a few of the sensor results himself. “You’ve got ground mapping and atmospheric analysis. How come they’re not affected by this interference?”
“Only some of the sensors seem to be affected.” He grimaced but shrugged grudging acceptance of the explanation while Archer reached his own conclusion.
“Well, if they went down, so will we. Trip, get a shuttle pod prep.ed. T’Pol and I’ll go take a look.” He grinned at the helmsman who was practically bouncing in his seat. “And Ensign Mayweather can join us to help locate the treasure.”
“Want an engineer along?” Tucker directed a quick, concerned look at the science officer as he spoke.
“No, I want you to mind the shop for me; just in case any nasty surprises appear.”
“With respect, sir,” Reed began his almost customary protest, “we don’t know how large that Andorian ship is. Is it wise to take a shuttle pod down after it?”
“We’re just going to take a look, Malcolm, not get into a fire fight.”
“I think I ought to come along, sir.”
“I seem to be spoilt for choice.” Archer gave his armoury officer a resigned smile. “Very well, lieutenant, you can join us. Trip, get moving.”
Tucker compared the last set of results with baseline figures and applied his thumb print to authorise the shuttle pod as cleared for launch, then slipped inside where T’Pol was running a diagnostic on the pod’s sensors. He gripped her shoulders firmly and swung her around to face him. “You sure you’re OK with this?”
“No, not of course!” His fingers flexed, almost shaking her. “This is me you’re talking to. Are you gonna be OK?”
“The captain does not intend for this to be a long mission. We will be back before I need to sleep.”
“And if you get another flashback?” It had happened twice more that he knew of over the last three days.
“I will … cope.”
“Without me to cuddle you? Phlox’ll speak to the captain if you ask.” T’Pol had visited the doctor that morning, but only because Tucker had finally worked out that she wouldn’t do it by herself and taken her there; and stayed to ensure that she didn’t skip out before Phlox arrived.
“Charles, I must go.” She raised a hand to caress his face, watching his reaction. “You keep telling me that I cannot become dependant on you.”
“Yeah, but … you’re not exactly yourself at the moment, are you?”
The fingers stroking his cheek slid to his mouth. “I will be all right.”
“You better be,” he mumbled and leant in to kiss her gently, although the kiss lingered and grew more intense as she responded, partly her lips willingly when he tentatively requested entry. He moaned softly and slid his hands down her back to pull her closer, while hers moved up to busy themselves with his hair. They might have shared a bed every night for a fortnight but it had been a very chaste affair. Tucker had been far too wary of pressuring T’Pol after her rape by Soval and initially she had just wanted to be held and then been too tired to want anymore. But it wasn’t the best of times to remember that desire as well as love had been building between them almost since they first met.
“Ahem.” Archer’s interjection pulled them apart at last, breathing quickly. “Is the shuttle pod ready, commander?”
“Oh, yeah, sure.” Tucker groped in a pocket for the PADD holding the flight clearance. “Um,” he glanced nervously at T’Pol, “sorry, cap’n.”
“Not on duty, commander, sub-commander.”
“Yeah, sorry.” Tucker gave T’Pol a final worried look, although she had turned back to her scanners, and swung himself out of the hatch. “You all watch yourselves down there.”
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