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Someone to Watch Over Me
Author - Shouldknowbetter | Genre - Action/Adventure | Genre - Angst | Genre - Drama | Main Story | Rating - PG-13 | S
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Someone To Watch Over Me
Summary: Someone is taking a close and personal interest in Enterprise and her 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.
3. Someone To Watch Over Me
7. Cry Havoc
Someone To Watch Over Me
The captain faced the monitors that showed their latest subject, a crudely designed vessel in his opinion, but it had excited the scientists and they never asked his opinion. As far as they were concerned, he was just the one who got them where they wanted to go and then awaited their pleasure. They had no idea of the difficulties involved in inter-dimensional travel; all they cared about were their damn silly cultures. Why couldn’t they look for technology once in a while? Not here, of course, this universe was far too new to contain any technology of interest, but somewhere. He sighed and took a final look at the primitive, saucer-like hull and the images of the crew going about their business oblivious to the fact that they were being watched by superior forces. Boring.
The scientists were waiting for him in the briefing room, clearly pleased with themselves. “Report.”
“Ah, yes, Captain,” began One, “our work is progressing nicely.” He checked his list. “We have catalogued eighteen of the required twenty behavioural patterns.”
“When do you anticipate completion?”
“Now that’s hard to estimate. The remaining two can take a while to crop up. We just have to be patient.”
“I do not have much patience left, One. There is a window opening in two time periods. If we miss that one, we will be marooned here for another twenty. I don’t want that to happen. The power drain of remaining out of phase at all times is immense.”
“Two time periods! Oh, no, not enough, not enough time at all.”
“Make it enough. We leave then. Dismissed.”
One looked around at his team. “Two time periods. Oh dear, oh dear.”
“Mating and death.” Two sounded thoughtful. “If they haven’t occurred spontaneously yet, there is a low probability that they will do so naturally.”
“We must … help.”
“Oh no. No, no, no. That would invalidate the survey.”
“Perhaps I should have said … encourage.”
“Not death. I won’t have you causing the specimens harm.”
“Very well. Just mating. Now we must find a suitable subject.”
“I think you will find that with these specimens, Two, you need two subjects for mating.”
“Is that the case, Three? You always pay attention to such details, don’t you?”
“No. Can’t see the point, really.” He would have retreated into his cabin if the engineer hadn’t grapped the front of his uniform and pulled.
“If you feel like that, you definitely need to get out.”
“I’ve got a tactical report to write.”
“It’s not due until tomorrow. Do it in the morning.” He was hustling the shorter man along the corridor.
“She might let you get away with it, but Sub-Commander T’Pol comes down on me like a tonne of bricks if my reports are late.”
“You’re just no good at excuses. I’ll think of one for you.”
“Does she ever believe you?”
“No, but knowing I’m lying makes her so mad she forgets about the report.”
“I really don’t understand the two of you. Commander …”
“Trip, then. Don’t you ever get fed up with being on Enterprise?”
“No! Hell, Malcolm, this is the greatest opportunity to explore we’ve ever had. How can you not want to be here?”
“It’s not that, exactly. It’s just … well, there’s only us. I’d like a change of company sometimes, that’s all.”
“I don’t know what you mean.”
“Yes, you do. You meant female company. So who have you got your eye on?”
Reed grimaced. “No one, really. And then there’s the regulations. Would Captain Archer enforce them, do you think?”
“Oh, yeah,” there was a trace of bitterness in Tucker’s tone, “he’ll do that.” Then he took another look at his friend’s gloomy expression and relented slightly. “I guess it might depend on who it was. Want me to ask?”
“God, no! I don’t want any ritual humiliation, thank you.” Then Reed sighed, descending another spiral into depression. “There’s always T’Pol, I suppose.”
“Not Starfleet,” Tucker agreed cautiously, “and you said she was pretty.”
“She is; and she spends all her time with the captain. Or with you!”
One and Two looked at each other and nodded happily. “He’s certainly showing the signs.” One was much cheered by the discovery. “Now we have to locate the female. Perhaps he’ll go straight to her. Track him.”
“Yes, yes, Three, but you always do become so partisan towards the specimens. Please go and prepare a suitable environment. We’ll bring them in shortly.”
It was still early so the mess hall was quiet, giving both men an excellent view of Enterprise’s science officer and communications specialist talking quietly together. Tucker grinned evilly and forced Reed in the direction of the two women. “Ask her if she wants to go to the film tonight.”
“You really want me to be humiliated, don’t you?”
“At least you’d be sure of company. Hoshi’ll take pity on you if T’Pol turns nasty and you can go with her instead,” and then he could tease the Vulcan into spending the evening with him. Archer was busy and would never notice. “Hey, girls.” Both women turned to look up at him with near identical glares. “Now what have I done?”
“Girls!” Hoshi pronounced in disgust. “I’m a language professor and Sub-commander T’Pol has more qualifications than you’ll ever see and you call us girls. Really, commander, I thought better of you.”
“You are girls. What’s wrong with a simple description?”
“Ignore him,” the Vulcan advised Hoshi. “Sometimes he goes away.”
Tucker grinned at her then jumped as the other woman let out a yelp. “What …?” Then he saw it happen too. In front of him, T’Pol flicked out of existence and, following Hoshi’s wide-eyed stare, he saw that Reed was missing too. “Hell.”
“Slow down, Trip.” Archer was pacing slowly in the confines of his ready room while the engineer kept a frustrated, white-knuckle grip on a chair back. “Go over it again. You’re sure you didn’t see anything? They just vanished.”
“Yes, cap’n, I’m sure. I was looking right at T’Pol, then she just wasn’t there. Hoshi said the same happened with Malcolm.”
“Scans indicate they’re not on Enterprise. No shuttle pods are missing. Has the transporter been activated?”
“Not even been powered up in a week.”
“There’s nothing showing on sensors.” Archer stopped his pacing. “No clues whatsoever.”
“No.” Archer clapped the man’s shoulder in bracing encouragement – two of Tucker’s closest friend’s on Enterprise had gone missing and the engineer didn’t take well to uncertainty. “Let’s have another look at those sensors sweeps, inside Enterprise and out. There must be something we missed.”
He thought he saw momentary shock in her expression before she too turned for a cool look around. “We would appear to be no longer on Enterprise.”
Malcolm’s training had kicked in and he was doing a slow and careful reconnoitre of the room. “No doors, sub-commander. One window but it looks like a sealed unit. I’d need explosives to shift it.”
“Could be anywhere.”
“It would appear to be Earth.”
“Well, yes, anywhere there. The furnishings look to be from Earth too.”
T’Pol studied the décor in more detail. Wide bed, strewn with cushions, vanity unit and that was it. “A strange place for imprisonment.”
“I knew I should have stayed in tonight.”
“You would appear to have your wish, lieutenant. We are ‘in’, with no way out.”
From T’Pol’s usual station, where he was busy breathing down the neck of her unfortunate replacement, Archer looked across the bridge. “Trip, will you cut that out! You’re wearing out the carpet.”
He got a frustrated glare from the other man. “People don’t just vanish. There must be something on sensors.”
Archer thrust himself away from the console; Tucker wasn’t the only one who was angry at their lack of progress. “There isn’t. Unless you want to re-calibrate them a third time, commander?” Then he sighed, crossing to the other man’s side, placing a hand on his shoulder. “They’ll be OK, Trip. Malcolm and T’Pol can look after themselves.”
“I know that. I just wish I knew where she was.”
His choice of pronoun earned him a sharp look from his captain.
“We could introduce a chemical agent into the atmosphere,” Two suggested but One shook his head sadly.
“It would only work if there was already some degree of attraction. We appear to have misjudged.”
“I suppose we have little option.”
“I told you it would not work.” As so often, Three waited until her colleagues had reached their conclusion before voicing her own thoughts. “You selected the wrong male.”
“This one expressed an interest in the female. Their literature indicates that the male takes the lead role in mating.”
“She is a different species. Those rules may not apply. But if you wanted that female then you needed the other male.”
“Do you have any evidence for this, Three?” Two was scathing. “Or have you again allowed your personal preferences to affect your professional judgement?”
Three gave him a withering look. “Of course I have evidence.” She crossed to a spare viewer. “Observe.”
They all observed the series of images carefully, analysing the subtleties in the way to the two specimens worked together.
“Perhaps.” One was not convinced; mainly because he had missed the signs before.
“I suggest we make the switch.” Three was firm.
One and Two exchanged glances. The current specimens were certainly not performing and unless they took Three’s advice she would nag incessantly. “Very well. Prepare for transfer.”
They were still hopelessly stalled, reduced to running continuous scans of the surrounding area just to convince themselves that they were still trying. Archer was slumped in his command hair, wracking his brains for a plan of action while Tucker tried to extend the senor range so it was Hoshi who again saw it happen. “Malcolm!”
They all snapped around to face the startled armoury officer and so did not notice for a moment that Tucker winked out of existence a second or two after the other man reappeared.
When the bridge disappeared from Tucker’s view to be replaced with a bedroom he had never seen before, his reaction was identical to Reed’s some hours earlier. “What the hell!” His circuit also produced a similar result as he found Enterprise’s missing science officer. “T’Pol! You OK?”
She ignored the question, rising gracefully to her feet to approach him. “Have you found a way to reach this place?”
“Don’t even know where it is.” He was scanning the room carefully although he reached out to squeeze her arm, just to confirm she was really there. “What happened to you?”
“Very little. I was on Enterprise then I was here, as was Lt. Reed. Finding no way out of this place, we waited.”
“We couldn’t find a trace of you.” Tucker was now prowling the walls; T’Pol forbore from pointing out that both she and Reed had already performed that task. It was always possible that the engineer’s less conventional approach might find something that a more methodical search had missed; illogical but sometimes true. “Blank on all sensors. We weren’t doing much more than waiting either when Malcolm appeared on the bridge. Then I was here. You tried opening this window?”
“Lieutenant Reed lacked explosives.”
“No kidding?” He wandered back towards her. “Thought he always kept some in a back pocket. At least it’s a comfortable prison, I guess.”
“Do you have a communicator?” He shook his head. “A scanner?” This time his grimace was rueful. “They are standard items of away mission equipment.”
“Well, I didn’t know I was gonna be leaving Enterprise, did I? Where’s yours?” An eyebrow flickered in well-controlled irritation and Tucker flopped onto the bed, bouncing appreciatively. “Wanna make out to pass the time?”
The only answer was a fierce glare.
“I’m afraid there’s not much I can tell you, captain.” Reed regretted that as much as anyone. “I have no idea where we were. It appeared to be a bedroom on Earth.”
“That’s … odd. I guess we can assume that’s where Trip got taken. You’re sure nothing happened to give you any clue as to why you were there, what was expected of you?”
“No, sir. Unless the bed was suggestive of anything.”
“I think I might have something, sir. At the time Malcolm reappeared I was running a comm. diagnostic and it detected a faint surge in theta band. Very faint,” she added honestly.
“Normal sub-space noise?” Archer had crossed to see the readout for himself.
“It’s possible, sir, but it’s the first anomaly we’ve seen.”
“True. All right, ensign, let’s take a closer look.”
Tucker rolled over onto his front to look at T’Pol who was again seated on the floor, eyes closed, hands resting on her thighs. “Did you bring a pack of cards?”
“Don’t you get bored doing that?”
“Ah, c’mon, T’Pol, have pity. Talk to me.”
The dark eyes finally opened. “You have only been here eighteen minutes. Lieutenant Reed was able to maintain an acceptable degree of silence for very nearly four hours. You would do well to learn from his example.”
“How’d you make Malcolm shut up? When we were stuck in Shuttle Pod 1 he wouldn’t stop yakking.”
“Perhaps he was trying to avoid your conversation.”
He grinned hopefully at her. “If you’ve just spent four hours meditating, you don’t need to do any more. Talk to me.”
T’Pol gave up on the idea of meditating. Tucker would never give her enough peace to do so if he was bored. “What do you wish to discuss?”
He shrugged. “Whatever. Sex?”
“If you are going to be puerile and offensive, I will render you unconscious.”
“You’re getting the hang of threatening people.”
“That was not a threat. That was a fact.”
“So did Malcolm talk to you at all?”
“Lt. Reed maintained a dignified silence.”
“Dignified, huh?” He knew well enough when he was being teased. “He didn’t ask you out?”
“Ask me out? We were in a room with no exits.”
“You know what I mean. Ask to spend time with you.”
“Didn’t think he would.”
“I see no reason why he should do so. We frequently interact in the course of our work.”
“Not that sort of interaction. He’s feeling sorry for himself again.”
“So you encouraged Lieutenant Reed to ‘ask me out’?”
“I didn’t encourage him. It’s just you’re the only one available.”
“Thank you.” T’Pol’s sarcasm was clear and Tucker grinned.
“You might like it.”
“As I recall, you forced me to ‘date’ Lieutenant Storan. That was not a success.”
“I suggested you had dinner together! You hold that against me?”
“Isn’t holding grudges illogical?”
“Sometimes I have found it necessary to make exceptions where humans are concerned.”
“D’you like Malcolm?”
“Lieutenant Reed is a competent and conscientious officer who understands the value of silence.” She watched Tucker’s amusement with guarded pleasure. “The lieutenant would be better advised to look to Ensign Sato for companionship.”
“Hoshi? She likes him?” Tucker seemed pleased and T’Pol concentrated for a moment to suppress her mild relief that he wasn’t jealous of the comm. officer’s interest in another. “How’d you know that?”
“She has spoken of him.”
“So you two gossip together?”
“Hardly, but in a predominantly male environment female company is sometimes … restful and Ensign Cato speaks Vulcan.”
“Ever talk about me?”
“No.” She was always careful not to mention him. Cato was very quick with a sharp ear and T’Pol wasn’t totally confident of her detachment where Tucker was concerned.
“Damn! I thought I was the cutest guy on the ship.”
“I believe that honour goes to the captain’s dog.”
Two sighed. “This is proceeding no better than the previous pairing.”
“At least they are talking.” One was still hopeful but only because he couldn’t think of anything else to try.
“But at the most trivial level.”
“I believe that to be a promising sign.” Three was maintaining her air of confidence. “The woman does not engage in trivia with anyone else and he touched her when he arrived.”
“But not since.” Two had never like Three, probably because she was so much brighter than he. “If you are correct and they wish to mate, they obviously need encouragement.”
“Chemical compounds?” One suggested. He rather enjoyed synthesising chemicals, even though he didn’t really think they worked.
“I was considering a change of scenario. Their ship’s database indicates that placing two specimens in a dangerous situation inevitably makes them acknowledge their desire to mate.”
Three sighed. “That is a literary device, not a behavioural rule. I believe it no more likely to work for these specimens than for our own people.”
“Then what do you suggest?”
“Oh, very well, select a scenario. But don’t get them killed. We are investigating mating, not death. I’m sorry, Three, but this is getting a little tedious. What are they doing now?”
“This isn’t working,” Tucker grumbled. “I can’t see a flame.”
“You are not trying.”
“Yes, I am. I just can’t see it. I’ve never been into candles.”
“Not even when entertaining women?”
Tucker’s eyes shot open and stared accusingly at T’Pol. “What d’you know about candlelit dinners?”
“I am aware that they are a sentimental cliché.”
“How d’you know?”
“Ensign Sato has told me.”
“Huh! Thought someone’d been romancing you,” and he knew who to accuse.
The scene flipped without warning. One moment they were sitting facing each other on the bedroom floor, the next they were on sand, hot red sand with red light overhead. Tucker literally ducked from the sudden intensity of the heat. “Shit! What happened there?” It was a rhetorical question. He clambered to his feet, staggering a little as the high gravity hit. “Any idea where we are?”
T’Pol had also risen and was studying their surroundings closely. “It would appear to be Vulcan.”
Tucker stared around, frowning. “Earth, now Vulcan. D’you think we’re really there?”
“I believe not. This would appear to be the great southern desert but it lacks the … depth of sensation I would expect to experience here.”
“Yeah, know what you mean. Like that view out the window of the bedroom. Holographic projection?”
“A logical hypothesis although there are other possibilities.”
“I guess we still can’t find the off switch. Or even the environmental controls.” Tucker was already sweating and T’Pol looked at him in some concern. Vulcan was a harsh environment for its natives and a killing one for humans.
“We must find shelter.”
“Fine. Do we toss a coin or what?”
“There.” She pointed to a rock outcropping just visible to human eyes in the low light levels. “If we are fortunate, it may contain emergency supplies.”
“And if we’re not fortunate?”
“It will not.” She started walking, keeping to a slow pace although Tucker was already breathing faster in the high gravity and thin air.
“Why would there be supplies in the middle of a desert?”
She presumed he wanted to talk to keep his mind off his discomfort. “We are not in the middle of a desert. I believe we are close to the main pilgrim route to the monastery on the plateau of Gol where the rite of Kolinahr is performed. The masters leave caches of water for the pilgrims.”
“They walk in?”
“Of course. It demonstrates their commitment and piety.”
“If you say so. Is it always this hot?”
“During the day, yes.” She took pity on him. “This is the most inhospitable region on Vulcan.”
“Hence the masters?”
“Indeed. Even I find it … unpleasant.”
“You must freeze on Enterprise.”
“Vulcans can tolerate a far wider range of temperatures than humans.” She glanced up at the man beside her. “It surprises me that for a species that evolved in Earth’s equatorial area, you are so vulnerable to heat and dehydration.”
“That was about half a million years ago! What were Vulcans doing then?”
“Slaughtering each other.”
They were barely 100m from the rocky outcropping when the desert’s silence was broken by an animalistic howl. T’Pol didn’t hesitate. “Run.”
Tucker did his best but Vulcan’s gravity won out. He had fallen several metres behind T’Pol when he stumbled and pitched headlong. He had barely dragged himself to hands and knees when a large, shaggy and noxious beast barged into his side, sending him flying again. Instinct rolled him onto his back and saved his life as it also threw up his arm to ward off the rows of teeth aiming for his throat. Luck played its part too as his forearm jammed into the creature’s jaws. For frantic seconds he was pinned down, unable to do anything but hold the animal off, then the downward pressure relaxed into a dead weight that was pulled off him and he was looking up into T’Pol’s face. She looked as scared and shocked as he felt, quite unlike her usual calm self. They simply stared at each other for a long moment then she dragged him up, hand tight on his. “They hunt in packs. We must run.” As she pulled him away, he got another sight of the creature that had attacked him; its neck had been snapped.
Archer was getting irritable which was in turn upsetting Hoshi. “I’m going as fast as I can, sir! This equipment wasn’t designed to operate in theta band. If Commander Tucker was here …”
He swallowed his annoyance, knowing it was unjustified. “I’m sorry, Hoshi. I know you’re doing your best.”
She sighed. “I’m worried about them too, sir.” Particularly about the notion of Tucker and T’Pol alone in a bedroom together. Hoshi knew something was going on between science officer and chief engineer, she just didn’t know what it was exactly and whether it was likely to lead to the Vulcan hurting Tucker if he pushed his luck with her. “OK, I think that’s got it.” She crawled out from under the comm. station and accepted Archer’s hand to help her up. “Initiating comm. signal now.” There was a short delay and then she said in some surprise, “Link established, sir. Someone’s responding.”
It had to be one of the most alien species Archer had yet encountered. There was only the suggestion of a mouth; the rest looked remarkably like a jellyfish, but the response came through clearly without the benefit of Hoshi’s language skills. “Oh, it’s you. You have contacted us.”
“That’s right.” Archer was being cautious. “You know us?”
“Oh, yes. Yes, indeed. We didn’t think you could talk back, however. We were just observing.”
“Yes, yes. We’re exo-anthropologists. We spend our time viewing primitive specimens like you.”
“I see.” Archer held his temper. “I seem to be missing two of my crew. Would you know anything about that?”
“Ah, yes. My apologies, but the captain wanted us to finish up quickly. We had to encourage the behaviour we wanted to observe.”
“You kidnapped two – three! – of my crew.”
“Well, I suppose – yes, we did. But don’t worry, you can have them back as soon as they have mated. They’ll be quite safe with us.” There was a noise off screen. The jellyfish swayed in that direction, said something that sounded very much like, “Oops!” and the screen went blank.
Archer stared at it in consternation and after a moment Hoshi said doubtfully, “Did he say mated?”
T’Pol dragged Tucker up the first rocky stretch of the knoll then halted in frustration at the sheer face before them; she had taken the wrong route, not that there had been a great deal of choice. Beside her, Tucker had collapsed to hands and knees, sobbing for breath, clearly incapable of going further. With scant hope, she turned to check if they had been followed and shivered. There were too many. Even if they had both been Vulcan they wouldn’t have stood a chance and Tucker was human, hurt and already exhausted. “Charles.” She hardly ever called him by his personal name although he had been urging her to do so for months, but it had the advantage of getting his immediate attention. He dragged himself up, holding onto the rock wall behind them, and swore softly at the sight of the half dozen beasts crouching below them.
“Can we do anything?”
One of the beasts roared and started forward. T’Pol took a step in front of the injured human in an entirely futile gesture of protection and he pulled her back, holding her tightly to his side. T’Pol gave in to the inevitable and held him back just as tightly; it didn’t look as if it would matter. The beast howled again, crouching to spring, and they clutched convulsively at each other.