Author: asearcher PM
Exploring a strange energy source while mapping an area of space not often visited leads to problems.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Angst/Drama - J. Archer & T'Pol - Words: 6,131 - Reviews: 8 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 2 - Published: 06-29-06 - Status: Complete - id: 3015812
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Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
The day had been particularly boring. While happy to have finally returned to exploring the Alpha quadrant of the galaxy, Jonathan Archer was not particularly thrilled with this specific area of space. Every planet for a parsec was a barren hunk of rock. Even the Vulcans had chosen to forego this sterile area in developing their database. Still, it was necessary to survey the space if for no other reason than to confirm there was nothing there to find. They'd been scanning the area, traveling from one solar system of rocky dead worlds to another for a week now, with no interesting results. Who knew, though? Perhaps if they looked under the right rock they would find some mining opportunities for an exotic mineral. Stranger things had happened.
Jonathan heard the lift open behind him. He knew without looking that Commander T'Pol had entered the bridge. He had a hard time understanding how it had happened in these last four and a half years but somehow, he had left behind the man who hated the Vulcans for their arrogant assumption that they knew what was best for humans and for keeping his father from reaching his dream. Instead, he found he was a man who totally appreciated the woman who moved gracefully to her tactical station, ready to explore this region of space along with the humans who surrounded her. Through her he had learned to see something else in the soul of Vulcans, although it had taken sometime to realize that others of her planet might have merit as well. He understood now how the synergy between the peoples of Earth and Vulcan made both species greater than they were apart.
It had been a long, strange ride and the past year had been stranger still. Who would have ever guessed that it would be Jonathan Archer who would return the Vulcans to their center? He chuckled a bit. He certainly wouldn't have taken that bet a year ago.
His thoughts grew more serious. It was really a crime that Max would never know how things had played out after his sacrifice. Jon had at first thought it had been a waste when his mentor had thrown himself against Soval, saving the Vulcan's life at the cost of his own. Now, although he was still saddened, he knew that Max Forrest had not died in vain. He realized that Max and Soval had always wanted a better relationship between Earth and Vulcan. He wryly noted that if not for Max's death and the subsequent investigation, he would never have known that Soval, the Vulcan he had most hated for what he'd known was unfair treatment of his father, would be able to change a lifetime of belief. It was said that you couldn't teach an old dog new tricks. The person who'd penned that had never met a Vulcan. There were great numbers of old dogs learning new tricks through the Kir'Shara.
He turned his head and looked at T'Pol, her delicate fingers playing upon the control panel in front of her. She was so beautiful. Two years ago he might have considered a relationship between the two of them could be possible someday. That was before he learned how close to the abyss his soul could come to utter darkness. Before he learned that T'Pol and Trip had developed a relationship. He wasn't exactly sure the current status of the liaison between his two best friends but he knew that six months ago when he'd looked into the eyes of both of them, he'd seen absolute and total pain as they buried the daughter they had known only a short time. He would not, could not, intrude on any tie that held them together. Rather, he would accept that if friendship was the best he could hope for with this woman, he'd take that and be grateful for it.
"Captain?" T'Pol's voice shattered his musings.
"Captain, I'm detecting a strange energy signal from the third planet in this solar system."
Strange? The word caught him off guard. When T'Pol used that word, it must be truly different. "What type of signal?" he asked curiously with a hint of excitement. Maybe that rock had just been turned over.
She looked puzzled, as if by looking at the data in just the right way, the story it told would become clear and she would have an unambiguous answer to provide him. "I am not sure. It is like no other signal I've seen before."
"Travis, set a course and put us in orbit around that planet. This mystery may not be much, but it's the most exciting thing we've had in the past seven days."
"Yes sir." Travis's hands glided over the navigation controls as he put the ship on the course the Captain had requested.
Enterprise and its crew once again headed into an unknown space, certain there was nothing to concern them on a long dead sphere of rock. It would have been wise to remember that Murphy was an optimist.
The landing party of six arrived in the shuttlepod, setting down upon an ancient plain of hardened but obviously once molten rock. Suiting up in the bulky but necessary burnt orange and metallic environmental suits, they left the pod.
"Feels like Earth gravity," Archer stated. He looked around. "But it looks more like Mordor."
T'Pol confirmed his first observation, reading from her instrument. The second apparently confused her. "Mordor? I'm not familiar with that planet."
Jon smiled. "It's not a planet, T'Pol. It's from an Earth story. Lord of the Rings. Plains of dark volcanic rock."
"Mordor," she repeated. "We have an area on Vulcan that is similar to this. We call it Gu'gelik Eiktra." When he'd given her a look that requested the English translation, she added, "The Plain of Darkness."
"Maybe I'll get to see it someday," Archer tone indicated it wasn't going to be at the top of his 1,000 places to visit before you die.
Lewis, Samuels, and Markes, the landing party's geologists, had taken off in the direction of the short mountain range that was to the right of the plain. Lieutenant Luten had remained with the Captain and T'Pol.
T'Pol ran the scanner over the planet surface. "Captain. The energy signal seems to be emanating from an internal source."
"Do you have a directional lock?"
She pointed a short distance away. "I believe those caves may provide access."
Archer turned toward the area she'd designated, noting the entrances to the caves. Taking lead, he obviously expected the lieutenant and T'Pol to follow him. They kept a steady pace, keeping their eyes forward not interested in the unchanging surroundings of the rocky volcanic surface. Jon couldn't help chuckling as he thought of the other three members of the landing party. The geologists would be having a field day.
Reaching the cave, T'Pol again scanned the area; glad to find the caves showed stability on a geologic timescale. From what she inferred from the data collected, there had not been any seismic activity for millennia. This was truly a dead planet. Except for the energy signal. That was intriguing.
Bending down so as not to hit his head on the cave opening, Archer stepped into the cave, finding the walls to be smooth, black obsidian. Utilizing their torch lights, they continued into the depths finding the caves as boring as the planet surface. T'Pol continued to scan and, as they came to a fork, specified that they should go to the right. Archer took point again.
As he stepped forward onto what looked to be a solid surface, the area shimmered and Archer found himself falling into an empty gaping hole. He tried to grab at the sides of the drop off, but the glasslike surface provided no handholds that he could latch onto with the bulky gloves that were a part of the environmental suit.
Lt. Luten had leapt forward trying to catch hold of the Captain's suit calling out his title as her hands reached empty air. T'Pol had found it necessary to grab hold of the other woman's suit or else she would have gone over the side as well.
As they fell backwards, Luten looked to T'Pol, shock evident upon her face. "What happened? Didn't the scanner pick that up?"
"No. Up until the moment the ground proved to be an illusion, the readings indicated a solid surface." They had started to move carefully to the edge to look over and assess the situation, hoping for a ledge somewhat down the hole that the Captain would have landed upon. They were not expecting the area in front of them to again take on solid form.
"Oh, God! What about the Captain?" the human woman cried out, unsure of what would allow this type of activity to occur.
T'Pol was trying to determine that, scanning the area several times as if expecting a different answer. Finally she stated, "The energy signal is no longer present."
The lieutenant's face scrunched in confusion. "This was a trap?"
"There is not enough evidence to make that conclusion." T'Pol attempted to contact the Enterprise. Finding that the thick volcanic rock of the caves blocked connectivity, the two women backed their way out of the cave, no longer sure that their footing would support them. When they made it to the surface, T'Pol again attempted to reach the ship.
"Sato here, Commander."
"Lieutenant Sato. I assume the landing party has been monitored?"
"Yes. We have three life signs in the mountain area to your north. We'd lost the three of you about fifteen minutes ago, but now we have two on the sensors."
"So there is no sign of the sixth landing party member?"
Damn! It was a human expression but sometimes T'Pol found that these expressions could be quite helpful. Now was such a time.
"Have Major Reed pull together a search party. It seems we've lost the Captain." She hated the next word but over the past years since she had joined Enterprise, she found it to be true many times. "Again."
Two months had passed. The crew of Enterprise had used every possible sensor configuration, tried all options that their science toolbox had to offer to tease out the answers to this unknown. T'Pol knew that they had tried all other methods as well, including the faith humans placed in prayer. Nothing had been found. The energy signal had never reappeared. The Captain had simply ceased to exist.
T'Pol had contacted Starfleet immediately upon returning to the ship when the Captain was lost, utilizing his ready room as she had many times in the past. She had provided updates, or the lack of updates, daily since then. Admiral Gardner had initially been sure that Archer's luck would allow them to retrieve him. The man had seemed to defy fate, something that Earth and many other planets were thankful for after the Spheres had been destroyed and effectively returned the Delphic Expanse to normal space.
But now, two months had gone by and there had been no change from that initial report. Although nobody wanted to believe it, the Captain was gone. Truly gone this time, unlike what had happened after the Xindi weapon had blown up. It was illogical that Archer had been thrown back into a previous time in this situation. It was as if the loss they had faced a year and a half before had simply been delayed.
T'Pol had been expecting Admiral Gardner's current orders for about a week. She listened calmly as Enterprise was ordered to return to Earth. As a Starfleet officer, in acting command of the Enterprise, she knew she had no choice. She had argued anyway, hoping to try one more trick to attempt to ascertain the location of the Captain, even if logically by this time there was little hope of rescue. Gardner didn't budge.
Taking a few moments to compose herself, she walked out to the bridge. If she'd been able to admit that Vulcans had what humans termed their heart, she would have acknowledged that it was breaking as she gave the command. "Prepare to leave orbit. Mr. Mayweather, set course for Earth."
"We're leaving?" Trip voiced as the entire bridge crew turned to her, the same question in their eyes.
"We've been ordered to return to Earth," T'Pol explained simply.
"But we haven't found the Captain yet. Or recovered his body, he thought silently. Nobody would say it, but it was on everyone's mind. Trip was grasping at straws and he knew it. He'd been in Starfleet long enough to know that when the orders came through to abandon a search after weeks without results, then it was time to suck it up and do so. While he would not have had the same faith in T'Pol when she'd first joined Enterprise, he knew without question that this was as hard on her as it was on the human crew.
"That is true. We must still follow our orders." T'Pol looked down. She was feeling overwhelmed and knew she needed to maintain her composure. "I'll be in the ready room if you need me." She turned and walked back into the only space available to assure that her mask was firmly in place, even if that space was the source of further sadness.
Trip nodded and the rest of the bridge took their cue from him, accepting without dissent the orders they had been given. "I'll be in engineering." He could understand T'Pol's need to be alone. He too found that walking away from the pain he felt was the only way to live through it.
It had taken awhile for consciousness to come to him and when it did, it was in spurts. The first sense had been sound. The scream that he'd last voiced came back full force. As he realized that he was still alive, it stopped and he did he best to calm himself, taking the time to regain his bearings.
He tried to remember exactly what had happened and was surprised that all he could remember was falling into a gaping hole, falling for what seemed to be an eternity, hearing that scream as he lost consciousness. Realizing that the scream had been his own.
As more of his senses returned to him, he understood more about his current condition. The lack of pressure on his skin told him he no longer was surrounded by the environmental suit but instead found that he was totally naked. This was rather disconcerting and it caused him confusion. This was a dead world without atmosphere to speak of. Certainly nothing breathable. How could he be alive if he was outside of the suit? However, doing a self-diagnostic of his biological systems, he realized that he was breathing and that all of his senses appeared to be working which told him he must be in a controlled environment. He hoped that he wasn't being watched somehow. The lack of clothing was embarrassing.
He looked around and found that he was in a closed in room. Where the Hell am I...and how long have I been here?
He walked around the room, trying to find some sort of opening. The room appeared to be totally sealed; even the corners were smoothly joined. This made no sense…there had to be a way for oxygen to pass in and out of the room. Unless it was by osmosis. That was an interesting concept.
He continued to think about his predicament. He realized that something or someone had to have put him here. But who or what? And where was he? Another thought came to him. Enterprise! They surely were looking for him. It would only be a matter of time. Then again, he had no idea of how long he'd been unconscious. Another thought disturbed him more. What if he wasn't on the planet anymore? He literally had nothing to base conjecture on other than what had happened before.
It bothered him not knowing anything more than that he was alive and in a room. Had it been minutes or hours since he'd last been in contact with his ship? Longer? He figured that maybe saying something would bring about some response from the beings that must have him captive. "Hello? Is anybody there?"
Great. What do I do now?
He continued to examine the space he was in, finding no differences than the first time he looked. He pounded on the walls…definitely solid but strangely soft. It was as if the walls were designed to absorb the energy when he hit them.
After what felt like a long enough time, he tried again to reach someone other than himself. "Hey! There's got to be somebody out there. Talk to me!" He added more information. "I'm Captain Jonathan Archer of the Earth starship Enterprise. Is there any way I can get something to wear in here?"
More silence. He started getting angry. "Hey! Answer me! Someone!"
Over the next what he could only conceive of as hours, Archer tried all sort of ploys to reach someone on the other side. Alternatively curious, logical, angry, and scared he eventually wore himself out. He finally curled up leaning against the wall; not at all sure what was happening but knowing that life had again taken a left turn into some unknown. He didn't know how or why this had happened but whatever it was, he resolved to survive it. He had to.
Awake again. He knew that he had woken and slept multiple times but there was no way to know how long he had been in the room. It felt like days. He'd thought that hunger and thirst would tell him something; that the growth of his hair, beard, or nails would mark the passing of time. Heck, he figured that he'd eventually become soiled and that would at least give him evidence that something was changing. Indeed, the first time he found that he'd had to pee, he'd been mortified to have to do so in the corner of the room. But each time he opened his eyes after sleep, he and the room were in the same shape as if it were the first time he'd awoken.
At one point, he decided to lay out the facts as he knew them. He was Captain Jonathan Archer. He had been on a mapping mission in this dead region of space. T'Pol had indicated an energy signal on one of the planets. During the investigation of that planet, he'd fallen into a hole and had awoken here. That gave him pause. Hmmm…am I awake? Perhaps he was dead and it just felt like he was awake. Well, if he were dead, he must be in Hell.
He considered that thought for a moment. It would certainly make sense from his point of view. The things he'd done in the Expanse merited spending eternity in Hell in his opinion. He'd stepped over the line enough times. He'd tortured living beings, stranded a whole ship of people far from their home, created a life and then killed it to save another life. He'd sent fine men and women to their deaths and it didn't help matters at all to know that every being on Enterprise had volunteered to be there for that mission. Many people volunteer for dangerous duty but most believe that they will beat the odds and come home. He wondered how many would have entered the Expanse if they'd truly felt it was a suicide mission. He felt the loss of every one of his crew, including the MACOs, as a personal failure.
The problem was he didn't feel dead. He gave a short, cynical laugh. What would death feel like anyways? It wasn't as if he really knew. What was it that Shakespeare had said in Hamlet? 'To die, to sleep, perchance to dream…ah, there's the rub.' The rub indeed. Could he trust his senses to tell him anything? What yardstick did he have to measure against? Since he didn't feel hunger or thirst or have any needs not being met, other than companionship and perhaps having clothes to wear, it was logical to consider that perhaps this was truly just the afterlife.
If this was the afterlife, it wasn't like anything he'd expected. He knew there were many cultural belief systems and in none of them, that he knew of, was there a belief that one spent eternity in a sealed room, alone. Yeah, Hell would be about right.
He thought back to when he had read Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy those many years ago in the required philosophy class his first year at Stanford. As he recalled, Descartes' had stripped everything down to his essential being to prove through logical thought that God and soul existed. The infamous "I think, therefore I am" had been one of his ultimate truths. I think, therefore I must be, too. It wasn't comforting at the moment. How long would things be this way? Forever seemed an awful long time.
He had to have been here for weeks. It just felt so long. He'd tried to keep his mind busy, thinking. He went back over poems he had read, sang songs he knew, did math problems in his head. Anything to keep his sanity.
He'd found that as he'd travel down these roads of solitary thought that eventually, his mind would start playing tricks on him. He assumed that these were hallucinations born of boredom. He had pleasant memories of family and friends long gone. Sometimes he would even have sworn his father had come to visit him, seeming to be there real as life. On the flip side, there were the frightening memories as well. In those he'd remember something horrid in his past like his time in the Klingon prison camp or his experiences in the Expanse and he would feel he was reliving the experience, over and over again. Waking nightmares were the only way he could describe these latter thoughts.
He realized that if conscious existence continued like this into the future without change, he would go mad. He still wondered if he was already dead and thus wasn't sure if one could go insane in that condition. On the other hand, logic told him that things were going in that direction and assumed that would be the inevitable outcome no matter what. The thought scared him even as it comforted him. He figured if he truly went crazy, at least he wouldn't know the pain of loneliness. He'd found he was having a hard time telling the difference between the conscious and unconscious. They blurred together.
In that world of altered reality, Jonathan clung to one calming thought. T'Pol. If she could not be with him in tangible reality, she could at least be with him in his dreams. It didn't matter in what mental state they were manifest. He could be with her forever this way. He found some solace in that thought.
Once more awake, or at least he figured he was. In his dreams he would be somewhere else, good or bad and usually clothed. When he was awake, he saw the only the room and found himself naked again. He thought how strange that was. Usually people were clothed when awake and had dreams in which they were naked.
During one dream, whether it was a conscious or unconscious one he wasn't sure, he and T'Pol had figured out a way for him to mark time that seemed to work. He found if he bit or hit himself enough to bleed or bruise, the next time he was awake the evidence of the damage would still be there. He'd tried to use his blood or other body fluids to mark on the wall but each time he awoke, the walls would be pristine again. It seemed that only the damage he did to his own body couldn't be erased.
He'd also found that as he entered deeper into depressed madness, he'd started to lose weight and muscle tone. These things told him that he must be alive and not dead. Someone or something was keeping him alive, although for what purpose he didn't know. He'd ceased to care. Since it didn't look like he would be rescued, he'd decided that death was an acceptable alternative. He figured that as depression and madness took their toll, eventually he would die. T'Pol wasn't happy about it but she understood. Until then, he found that meditating with her helped to pass the time.
She'd taken leave at the earliest opportunity. It was four months after they had returned to Earth. Six months since she had watched as Jonathan Archer walked off a precipice and fell into oblivion. She'd accepted his death.
It was not logical that placing a marker at the spot where she had last seen him alive would do anything tangible. However, she had recently learned that this was an Earth custom and she would honor the human she had come to care for deeply in the only way she knew how. If returning to this spot would do that, well, it was worth the trip.
She'd obtained space on a Vulcan trading ship whose flight plan would carry them past the barren space field on their way to Mansas X, a colony frequented by the Vulcans. They agreed, for a reasonable fee, to drop her in a shuttlepod in that area on their way there and then pick her up three days later on their return trip. That would be enough time for her to honor Jonathan's memory.
As she approached the planet where she'd last seen Archer, she felt a strange sadness. She knew that the Trellium-D had degraded her neural pathways and as such, emotions would always be present and not easily suppressed. It was when they were emotions of sadness and loss that she felt overwhelmed. Shaking herself, she pressed on. She had a job to do. She needed to be logical. Sadness would not bring him back.
She had all sensors active as she dropped through the thin atmosphere to land outside the obsidian caves. Her eyebrow rose in surprise when those same sensors picked up the energy signal that had first brought them to the accursed planet. It did not last long, but she had recorded it.
Having set down, she dressed in an environmental suit, and retrieved the marker that she would set into the rock outside the cave. Carrying her tools, she left the shuttlepod and made her way to her destination. As she approached, her emotions suddenly soared as she noted a burnt orange and metal environmental suit just inside the cave entrance. Dropping the tools and the marker, she rushed inside.
The suit was turned with its back to her. As she rolled it over, she was ecstatic to find Archer's face inside. His eyes were closed but there was evidence of shallow breathing. Pulling the scanner from her belt, she checked his vital signs. He was extremely weak and fevered. Knowing he would require medical attention soon, she determined she first had to get him into the shuttlepod. She remembered a hover dolly that was in the small ship and ran back to retrieve it. When she returned, she rolled him onto the dolly and quickly got him inside.
T'Pol's first task after repressurizing and establishing an internal atmosphere was to get the Captain out of his environmental suit so she could examine him. As she removed the helmet, she noticed his breathing suddenly changed as if he had become aware of this change of air source. He opened his green eyes and looked toward her. His eyes were unfocused.
"T'Pol. Will we meditate again tonight? I'm not sure how long I have left."
T'Pol was confused. "You have all the time in the world, Captain. We'll get you medical help soon, but I'll do the best I can until our transport back to Vulcan arrives."
He smiled his lop-sided grin that she suddenly realized she had missed over the past six months. "You're being rather formal after all this time, aren't you, T'Pol? You promised you'd accept my death. I know you'd rather not but you know it's for the best."
"No, Captain. You're safe now." She continued working at getting the top of the environmental suit off of him. As she removed the upper section, she noted that he had no shirt on underneath. She took in a sharp, shocked breath as she saw the multiple bruises and human teeth marks upon him. Several of the bites had broken the skin and were infected. Oh, Jonathan, what has happened to you?
He shook his head, his eyes pleading with her. "T'Pol. It's been too long. Enterprise is gone. I'll never be rescued. I can't go on like this. Please, let me go." He had started to shiver a bit. "I'm cold," he stated with some surprise but with a hint of gladness taking this new sensation as a sign his body was shutting down. "It won't be long now."
"I'll get you a blanket in a moment." She persisted getting the bulky suit off and maintained her banter as she did. "You are being rescued, Captain. You're safe. I have a ship picking us up in a day and a half. You're going home." She removed the bottom half of the suit, noticing that he also wore nothing on his body and seeing further evidence of what was likely self-inflicted damage. Knowing how private he was, she walked to the locker in the back of the pod and found several blankets. She used them to cover him and put the extra blankets around him to maintain his body heat.
He considered her words. Home? In all the time he'd been in the room, he never heard T'Pol say he was going home. Could it be? He looked around and saw he was in a shuttlepod. He could see and feel the blankets covering him. He noticed that T'Pol eyes appeared drawn, not the clear eyes that had gazed at him while they were in the room. He suddenly started to shake in earnest. With a raw voice he asked, "T'Pol? Is it really you? You're not a hallucination? I haven't gone mad?"
Seeing him shaking and concerned with the distinct possibility of shock, she answered, as she pulled the blankets tighter around him. "Yes, Captain. I'm here. I'm taking you home."
Of the responses her words could have elicited, the one that resulted stunned her. In all of the time she had known him, during the darkest days on Enterprise in the Expanse she had never seen him cry. He did so now. He reached up to her, touching her almost timidly as if to assure himself she was real. She held him as he sobbed in deep, wracking cries. The pain in his voice cut her deeply and his emotions were like a flood tumbling down a mountainside as he cried out, "You're here! I'm not alone! You're really here!"
Comforting him as she had after the ritual in the Forge, she assured him that things would be all right. Eventually his tears slowed and he struggled to regain some control of his emotions. Still, his eyes pleaded with her again. This time he did not ask her to accept his death. This time he begged her, "please don't leave me alone. I don't want to be alone."
"No, Captain, I will stay with you for as long as you need me to." She didn't know what had happened to him these last six months but she knew without a doubt that they had been as troublesome to him as anything that had happened on Enterprise before. He watched her closely as she prepared the shuttlepod for takeoff. She decided to leave the tools and marker outside on the planet where she had dropped them. She wouldn't break her promise for such unimportant things.
They made their rendezvous with the Vulcan trading vessel and were on Earth a little over two days later. Archer was checked into a mental health facility to work with the professional healers he needed. They found that they had to keep his bed in the main room; the small private rooms would cause him to scream relentlessly whenever he was left alone and nightmares to trouble his sleep, even when medicated.
Admiral Gardner kept a close eye on his old friend's progress. He maintained T'Pol as acting captain of Enterprise but was unsure whether Jonathan Archer would ever return to man the helm of that ship. He hoped it was possible, but also knew the man had experienced a trauma that even he might not be able to shake.
Four months after he had returned to Earth, Jonathan agreed to have a Vulcan healer perform a mind meld to help him address the thoughts and fears that the memory of the room brought him. The healer was shocked by how this human had been treated while in his forced captivity, basically in total sensory deprivation, not knowing why his captors had chosen to do this to him. It was a mystery why he'd been taken, and an even greater one as to why he'd been returned, especially since it coincided with T'Pol's return trip to the planet. Would he have been released sooner? No one could say.
Eventually the nightmares stopped and Jonathan learned to accept being in a small room again, although he needed to know there was a way out. He returned to the bridge of Enterprise a year to the day of the start of his ordeal.
"Good to have you back, Sir." Hoshi smiled broadly, feeling that it would be good to get things "back to normal."
Travis and Malcolm were also happy to see the Captain back where they knew he needed to be. Both of them were shaken to hear of what had happened to their commanding officer and friend during the six months he'd been on that planet. They were just thankful that T'Pol had chosen to go back to that God forsaken rock and had found him, although they still didn't understand why. One of the first missions the crew had undertaken after Archer had returned to Earth had been setting buoys around the barren space so no other unsuspecting explorer would face the same fate.
Archer smiled, looking around the bridge, a breath of contentment expelling from his lungs. He'd been briefed about what had taken place over the past year. "It's good to be back. I hear you participated in three first contacts while I was gone."
"Yes sir. The Universal Translator is now able to address 137 different languages with more being added each month."
"It's nice to know that communication is alive and well in the galaxy. Lack of it is something I don't want to experience again soon." He sat down in the chair that had been his for most of the past five and a half years. It felt like he had truly come home.