No Beast so Fierce…
I hold now ownership of the settings or many of the characters in this fiction. I make no profit off of it.
As always reviews are appreciated.
Captain Jonathan Archer's voice was terse with pain as his command cut through the smoky air of the bridge. "Report!"
Lieutenant Malcolm Reed, grasping his console, dragged himself back into his seat from being sprawled on the floor. He flinched at the sudden explosion of sparks from the panel behind him. "Main power is offline, life-support is stable, the warp core is offline, antimatter containment is fluctuating, but the backup magnetic fields appear to be functional so I don't think we're in any danger."
"You don't think?" Archer's question came out as a gasp of pain as he tried to lever himself off the deck plates. Yes, his leg was definitely broken.
"It's hard to tell. Three quarters of our systems are offline, and half the diagnostic circuits appear to be burnt out." Malcom grimaced at the console in front of him. "Sub-commander, do you…Sub-commander!"
The alarm in the Lieutenant's voice whipped Archer' head around to look toward T'Pol's console. From his position of the floor all he could see was her arm, extending out from behind the station, her hand twitching slightly.
Hoshi Sato, slightly dazed but all right, had managed to stagger to her feet, and moved to T'pol.
Ensign Travis Mayweather, who had also pulled himself up, coughed on the acidic smoke of burnt electronics in the air as he knelt by the captain's side.
"Hoshi, what happened to her?" Archer questioned. Concern filtering even through the pain in his voice.
"I don't know." Hoshi's voice emanated from behind the console. "She's unconscious, and I think she's having a seizure."
Archer reached up to the comm. panel on the arm of the command chair. "Bridge to Phlox, we had a medical emergency." There was no response.
After tapping a few buttons on his console, Malcolm said, "The comm. system is down."
"Damn it!" Archer swore. Grabbing hold of the chair with one hand and Travis's shoulder with the other, he heaved himself upright, balancing on one foot. The air in his lungs hissed out between his clenched teeth and he was suddenly very pale.
As he swayed on his feet Travis grabbed hold of his arm steadying him. "Sir…"
"Travis, help Hoshi get T'Pol to sickbay." Archer gingerly settled himself into the command chair."
"Sir, your leg."
"It can wait ensign. Go."
As Travis and Hoshi maneuvered T'Pol off the bridge, Archer looked away from them and back to Malcolm. "What the hell happened?"
"I don't know sir. Just a moment before, whatever it was hit us, the sensors registered a sudden distortion in the event horizon of the singularity."
"Is the Vulcan ship still out there?" Archer glanced briefly at the static on the main view-screen.
Malcom shook his head helplessly, "Sensors are offline too sir, we're blind and dead in the water."
The Captain looked at the Lieutenant for a moment, then back at the static on the view screen, and remembered the events of the last day.
They had been en-route to investigate an inhabited binary star system when the Enterprise had detected a Vulcan cruiser about a quarter of a light-year off their course. This in itself wasn't strange, the oddity that prompted Captain Archer to change course to investigate was the fact that it was sitting unmoving in interstellar space, with more than four light-years to the nearest star system. As the Enterprise approached the Vulcan ship it began to detect an immense gravitational field. Further sensor scans had indicated the presence of a singularity with fifty solar masses drifting through the void of interstellar space.
They had been contacted by the Vulcan ship, identified as the Shirasna, moments after dropping out of warp. The Vulcan captain had been polite, but cool, as he inquired as to the Enterprise's presence. Archer had answered that they had picked up the Vulcan ship and had been curious, thinking that maybe it needed help. The Vulcan said that such was not necessary and that they were merely taking the opportunity to investigate the singularity. Jon after a moment's consideration, asked if they would mind the Enterprise sticking around to pursue its own observations. In responding, the Vulcan captain had been emotionless, and yet somehow at the same time managed to be faintly condescending as he agreed. It set Jon's teeth on edge.
Over the next few hours the two ships had poked and prodded the black hole with their sensors. T'Pol, as well as the Vulcan scientists on the other ship, had made note of the singularity's rather particular property of resonance: when certain frequencies of radiation from the sensors hit the event horizon there were spontaneous micro-fluctuations in quantum vacuum near the singularity, and particles were emitted. The particles were unremarkable, but for the fact that their quantum signatures were "out of synchronicity with other matter". At least that's what the Vulcan's had said. The Enterprise's sensors weren't advanced enough to resolve the particle's quantum signatures.
There had been no indication of any problems until the Vulcan vessel had launched a probe and sent it skimming across the event horizon. Then everything went to hell.
There had been a sudden fluctuation in the gravitational fields of the black hole and then it felt like the Enterprise had run into a wall while traveling at warp five. Archer had been knocked right out of his chair. Things were a bit hazy, but that would have been about when he had broken his leg. He also remembered a nauseating, distorting-wrenching sensation, and he may have briefly lost consciousness.
Jon pulled himself out of the memory. First priority: make sure his crew was all right and find out the situation of his ship, without sensors, for all he knew they were drifting into the singularity. Second priority: repairs, and the Vulcans.
Thoughts racing, he turned to the two other crewmembers on the bridge. "Ensign Davis go down to supply and get communicators and distribute them to the crew. Ensign O'Connell get a hand held sensor unit and find a porthole, see if you can check on the Vulcan ship and our position relative to the singularity."
As the two left he turned to Malcolm, "Give me a full report on all systems."
* * *
"So what's it look like Trip?" Jon asked. Grimacing in pain as he tried to adjust the position of his leg.
Commander Charles "Trip" Tucker's voice came out of the communicator sounding stressed, his southern drawl more pronounced than usual. "Not good Cap'n. We've managed to stabilize the antimatter containment, but there was an overload in the warp core. It didn't breach of course, but the power surge fried the warp coils. Without replacements we're not goin' anywhere. If you give me a day I can get ya main power and the impulse drive back, but no warp power." A tired sigh came over the link. "More systems are offline than on. If I had parts and facilities I could get you all systems back in two to three weeks. Without, it'll be a month or more, and that's only if I can rig a replacement for the warp coils. Think ya can ask the Vulcans if they have any spares?"
"I'll look into it when we finally get hold of them. They don't seem to be responding to our communicators." Jon said. "Is there any good news?"
"Well, the hull plating is intact, though the relays powering it are burnt out, but relatively speaking that'll be easy to fix."
"Concentrate on the impulse engines at the moment Trip. If we're drifting toward the singularity I want to be able to pull away from it."
"I'm on it Cap'n. Tucker out."
Jon flipped closed the communicator. The lift door swished open disgorging Hoshi and Travis back onto the bridge. Turning to look, Jon bumped his leg. He closed his eyes, fighting the sudden blast of pain.
"Sir?" Travis's hand came down gently on his shoulder.
He opened his eyes to see both Hoshi and Malcolm looking at him in concern.
"Captain, you need to have that treated, please go to sickbay. I'll call you the instant anything happens." Malcolm's voice had a half exasperated half pleading note to it.
Jon, looking over at him said, "Stubborn captains, eh?"
The other man's face was perfectly serious as he said, "Yes sir, but you never say that to their face. Travis, help him get to sickbay."
With Travis's help he got to his feet and hobbled into the lift. Looking back into the bridge, just before the door closed, he said, "I'll be back in just a bit Lieutenant."
* * *
Sitting on one of the beds in sickbay as the doctor treated his leg he was surprised that there were relatively few injuries, most of those bruises and bumps. At the moment they were the only people in sickbay, as the only crewmember in a condition serious enough to be stranded in there was T'Pol.
"There, that should work nicely." Doctor Phlox said as he finished applying the leg brace. "That will keep the brake from moving, and the enzymes should have the bone fused in a couple of days. How is the pain? Do you need any more anesthetic?"
"No thanks Doc." Jon turned to look over at the bed in which T'Pol rested in, unconscious. "How is she?"
Phlox's face became grave, or at least what the captain had come to associate with grave for a Denobulan. "Not well. There is considerable deterioration in the function of her nervous system."
"Deterioration in…how did that happen?" His expression was both concerned and baffled.
"Captain, do you know what the…phenomenon was?" Phlox asked carefully.
"No. Not really. There was some sort of flux in subspace, but that's all our sensors recorded before they were knocked out. Why?" He turned away from the other bed to face the doctor. "What does that have to do with T'Pol's condition?"
"All of the patients that came into sick bay, and from my results, I would guess, all of the crew, have suffered a major biological shock. The central nervous system seems to have been most affected. With humans the effects seem to have been minor, but the Vulcan central nervous system is distinctly different and the effects were certainly not minor."
"So the phenomenon is what did this to her?"
"That would be my guess." Phlox hesitated a moment.
"What is it Doctor?"
"Captain, have you been able to make contact with the Vulcan ship yet?"
"No, we…" The pieces suddenly came together and a cold feeling settled in his gut. "The other Vulcans, would the same have happened to them?"
Phlox nodded, "I believe so." He paused a moment then went on, "The only reason T'Pol is alive right now is that I have several drugs in her system stabilizing her neural pathways. The Vulcans on the Shirasna do not have that. It is a virtual certainty that they are all dead."
"Damn." He rubbed the bridge of his nose. "The transporter is offline, and we can't even get the shuttle bay doors open right now." Looking back up at Phlox, he asked, "Is there any chance that the Vulcans are still alive?"
Phlox shook his head. "No. Not at this point." His face lacked his usual optimism as he glanced at T'Pol still form. "In fact, I'm not certain how much longer I can keep her alive."
Jon opened his mouth to speak when his communicator beeped.
"Sir, it's Ensign O'Connell." The young woman's voice blurted through the device. She sounded shaken.
"Steady ensign. Take a deep breath…now what is it?"
"Sir, I took the portable scanner to the view-ports in the mess…the singularity…sir it's gone!"
"I'm not detecting any gravitational field. I've run the scan four times now Sir, and the only thing out there is the Vulcan ship, about a kilometer off starboard."
"That is impossible." The voice was barely a whisper, emanating from T'Pol's form.
Jon's head snapped around to look at the Vulcan who seemed to be barely, and grimly, fighting her way to consciousness. Phlox moved quickly to her side as she spoke again.
"A singularity of that mass…" her voice wavered, and almost died. "…can not…spontaneously…" he voice faded away, and she drifted back into unconsciousness.
"Sir?" O'Connell's voice came over the communicator again.
"What are you picking up on the status of the Shirasna ensign?" Jon asked, his eyes still on his first officer.
"My scans aren't very detailed sir, but it looks like they're in the same boat as us: main power down, systems out. And sir…I'm not picking up any life signs."
Closing his eyes Jon said, "Understood Ensign. Relay the information to Lieutenant Reed on the bridge. Archer out." Over two hundred Vulcans dead. Jonathan had never been particularly fond of Vulcans, but the last year with a first officer of that particular species had mellowed his views some, well in her case anyway. But they certainly hadn't deserved this. He felt a surge of anger. There had been no indication of anything wrong, so what the hell happened?
Opening his eyes he saw Phlox waving a diagnostic tool over T'Pol. "Doctor…" The entire ship jerked violently, the movement accompanied by a booming sound that not only heard throughout the ship but also could be felt through its very structure. Grasping wildly for a handhold to steady himself with, he barely had time to recognize an explosion before the ship bucked again, hurling him off the bed. His last conscious memory was the shrieking sound of tearing metal.
* * *
Consciousness returned slowly, and through the hazy pounding in his head he recognized the chittering of that damn bat of Phlox's. Groaning, he tried to get up.
Immediately Phlox was at his side, pressing him by his shoulders back onto the bed. "No, no, Captain. Stay where you are. You hit you head quite hard coming off the table like that. Fortunately the leg brace stayed firm; wouldn't want to have to redo all that work after all." He smiled down at Jon.
"Doctor, what happened? There was an explosion…" Looking around, but trying not to move his head too much he saw the sick bay was on emergency lighting.
"First of all, other than a few more bruises, no one was seriously hurt." At Jon's impatient expression he continued, "There was an explosion in the torpedo bay."
The Captain immediately pushed off Phlox's hands and started to struggle to his feet.
"Captain you can't leave…"
"With respect Doctor, I appreciate the need for you to monitor your patients but I need to see to my ship." He fought off a slight bout of nausea as he reached a standing position. After a moment he took a step, the leg brace was a little bulky, but he could move with it.
"I am not referring to your condition, though that is reason enough, but to the fact that sickbay is sealed off from the rest of the ship."
Jon turned back to him in surprise.
"The explosion tore through several bulkheads and cut off the two routes to sickbay, it will be several hours before a way can be cleared through."
There was shock in the Captain's gaze at the amount of damage that implied. "And you're sure no one was hurt?"
"Quite sure Captain." Phlox held up his communicator.
Taking it from him, Jon flipped it open. "Archer to the bridge."
"Captain!" Hoshi's exited voice burst from the communicator. "It's good to hear you sir."
"It's good to be heard. What's our status?"
"Well sir, it looks like one of the torpedo warheads detonated. That's supposed to be impossible when they're disarmed, the Lieutenant is trying to figure out how it happened, and incidentally, how it managed not to set off all the others and blow up the ship."
From the tone of her voice he could picture the little shudder she gave at the thought.
"Fortunately there was no one in that area when it went off. They were all back working on the impulse engines and the warp core."
"And the repairs?"
"Commander Tucker says that it will be at least another fourteen hours before he can bring the impulse drive online. He's also detailed a couple parties to clearing you a way out of sickbay." Her voice became apologetic. "It's going to take awhile sir. The hull has been compromised in one area, and they're trying to seal it so they can get into the corridor without pressure suits."
"It's alright ensign. I'll check back in a few hours. Archer out." He flicked the device closed.
"Well," he said, heaving a sigh filled with stress and worry. "Hurry up and wait."
* * *
Jon looked up from the pad at the urgent beeping sound from the monitors over T'Pol's bed, and he watched worriedly as Phlox rushed over to tend to her. It the hours since he had awakened in sickbay his second in command's condition had worsened. Phlox had tried one remedy after another, but none of it seemed to be working. Whatever was happening to her seemed to be implacable in its progress.
As the Doctor stepped away, the most recent crisis averted, Jonathan felt something inside that he had not realized he had tensed up, unclench just a little bit.
"Doctor?" His voice was questioning. He had never seen Phlox look so discouraged.
"I've tried almost everything I can think of, and it's all ineffectual."
The Denobulan took a deep breath and seemed consider something for along moment. "There is one possibility, but it is, as you humans would say, a long shot. I do not know if it would be possible to accomplish, and even if it is, it would involve considerable danger to someone else."
He paused and Jon just looked at him, waiting.
"The Vulcan healers have a tradition of using telepathy and other psychic skills to assist in healing. We may be able to help the Sub-commander with something of the sort."
"But we don't have any other Vulcans or telepaths of any kind on board."
"Ah," the Doctor said as if making a revelation. "All we need is T'Pol, if we provide the means for her mind to heal itself."
Jon's look was perplexed. "I'm not following you."
"If we give her mind and nervous system another mind and nervous system to lean on I believe hers will be able to repair itself."
Jon mulled it over for a moment. "So, you're suggesting that we telepathically connect T'Pol with another person to…give her the strength to heal herself." He was a little bemused by the idea.
Seeing his expression Phlox said, "I am quite serious Captain. Similar techniques have been used on Vulcan for millennia. Though always with extremely disciplined and highly trained Vulcans, never with a human. That's where the risk comes in."
Jon remained silent, thinking. "She is unconscious so…" he trailed off.
"I would make use of a stimulant to bring her to consciousness and get her to initiate the process." Phlox explained. "After that, I think it would simply be a matter of letting nature take it's course."
"I am not a Vulcan doctor, and they do not speak of these things. I have never attempted anything like this. As I said, it is a long shot."
Jon turned again to look at the figure lying on the bed. His mouth tightened.
"Captain, it would have to be very soon. She is getting weaker."
"And since there is no one else, if we do this I get to be the guinea pig." He sighed. "Get what you need ready Doctor." As Phlox moved away he removed his communicator from his jumpsuit pocket and flicked it open. "Archer to bridge."
* * *
"Sir, I understand, but this leaves Enterprise in a very bad position if it goes wrong. We could lose both our captain and first officer." Lieutenant Reed's voice was tense coming over the communicator.
"I know Lieutenant, but if I do nothing she dies, and I can't do nothing when I have a course of action open." I couldn't help the Vulcans, but I'll damn well save her, the thought flitted through his mind. "You have your orders Lieutenant. Wish me luck. Archer out."
As he turned back to Phlox and moved to T'Pol's bedside there was a little flutter of fear in his stomach. Taking a deep breath he said, "Okay, what do I do?"
"Just try to be calm Captain."
The Doctor reached down and injected something into T'Pol's arm. Leaning over her he said, "Sub-commander? Sub-commander, you need to wake up."
Her eyelids began to twitch and she made a low confused sound in her throat. Slowly her eyes opened. Her gaze was unfocused, dazed.
Jon tuned what Phlox was saying to her out as he looked down. Those butterflies in his stomach were getting rowdy. His attention returned to what the Doctor was doing when the Denobulan took T'Pol's hand and placed it on the side of his face.
As soon as Phlox let go, her hand began to slip away. "Hold it there, Captain." The Doctor said.
He did as he was told, her fingers hot against the skin of his face.
Phlox's voice was a murmur as he spoke to the Vulcan. Seconds passed and Jon began to fear T'Pol was too far gone to understand or accomplish what Phlox wanted.
The butterflies in his stomach faded a little with relief as seconds passed and nothing happened. Guilt at that feeling welled up immediately, mixed with even stronger emotions of worry and fear.
His sequence of thought derailed as he felt something. It wasn't sensation he could describe, or rather it wasn't a sensation he had ever had to describe, and so didn't know how. A light brush of presence whispered at the edges of his consciousness. Other, alien thought, disoriented, and confused, poured into his mind. Images, sounds, smell: things he had never heard, seen or done flickered in and out of perception. The strength of T'Pol's mind was overwhelming, as was a sense of confusion, disorientation, and pain. Jon's mind began to shut down in defense against the bombardment of input from a source it was totally unprepared to deal with.
As though faded, he remembered something he knew he had never seen: T'Khut rising over the Vulcan desert, sand and rock stained with the fierce red light of that world's angry sister, and tinged with a sense of home. And then, as the sunset faded into darkness, he remembered nothing at all.
* * *
Trip stared at the readings on the medical readout over the bed for a moment, and then with a sigh, turned his eyes back to the figure resting on it.
Jonathan Archer lay unmoving and silent on the bed, as he had for the last two days. His vital signs were strong, but he seemed to lack any inclination to awake, and Phlox had been unable to rouse him. The Doctor thought that this state that he was in was simply a defensive mechanism, and he would come out of it when his body and mind had adjusted. About his patients, the Doctor was unflaggingly optimistic.
Patients. The thought brought Trip's eyes to the figure on the bed next to the Captain's. T'Pol's complexion was paler than her normal Vulcan bronze, but color seemed to be returning slowly. The gamble the Captain had taken appeared to be working. Her condition had stabilized shortly after the…connection had been established between them. When Phlox had tried to describe the bond he had been unable to be very specific, the Vulcans had never been very forthcoming on the nature of such things. Their mental abilities were a very private thing to them, and not much was known of the nature, or effects of them, outside of the Vulcans.
While he was unhappy about his friend's condition, he understood why Jon had done it. His friend had never been able to stand by and do nothing while someone else suffered. Not when there was something, anything, he could do.
Reaching out, he gently rested his hand on his friend's shoulder, watching as his breathing continued, slow and even. Heaving another sigh he spoke, his voice quiet, "Come on back soon Jon. We need ya here." Removing his hand he turned and with a last glance, walked out of sickbay.
As the highest-ranking officer still conscious, he was the acting captain of the Enterprise. He was also, unfortunately at the moment, its chief engineer.
It had taken the better part of a day and a half to restore the impulse engines to working order, the time made longer by the crews he had put to work repairing the most urgent damage done by the torpedo explosion. They had determined that the warhead that had detonated had been one that Lieutenant Reed had been in the process of recalibrating, and had thus been in a separate compartment from the others. But they still had no idea why it had gone off, it had been in its safe, disarmed mode, and detonation should have been impossible.
Except for the patch the explosion had blown out, the polarized plating was online and functioning. His repair crews were replacing circuits left and right, as the phenomenon that had hit them seemed to have had a special penchant for frying electronics, particularly those not as well shielded or durable as the main systems. Not that those main systems had faired much better.
The news about the Vulcan Ship had circulated fast among the crew. Vulcans in general had not been terribly popular, with the exception of Sub-commander T'Pol, as her actions had earned her a great deal of respect from the crew. Yet there was an air of shock and horrified disbelief that pervaded the ship. In spite of the resentment their cool impartial attitudes generated, the Vulcans had always seemed superior and invincible. They were stronger, faster, in general smarter, and they had been in space for much longer than humans: more than two and a half millennia, from historical records. Which meant that when Mankind was still trying to figure out iron, the Vulcans were beginning to reach into the stars.
The fact that the crew of the Shirasna had succumbed so swiftly, and the current state of Captain Archer and Sub-commander T'Pol, meant that the crew was feeling a bit in over their heads.
Trip, trying to co-ordinate repairs, and work with the rest of the crew as he felt a captain should, was beginning to feel seriously overextended. In the interest of lifting morale, he had detailed a crew to get the subspace communications array up and working. He figured getting connected to home would boost morale a bit, and they could also contact the Vulcan High Command about the Shirasna. Late yesterday they had managed to get a shuttle pod working and pried the shuttle bay doors open to take a closer look at the Vulcan ship. The readings had just confirmed Ensign O'Connell's: there was no life onboard.
Trip was broken out of his thought by the sudden chirp of his communicator. Extracting it from the jumpsuit pocket, he prayed the repair crews hadn't found another problem.
"Sir," Hoshi's voice came through the device. She sounded a little rattled. "Could you come to the bridge, there's something you need to see."
"Is everythin' alright Hoshi?"
"Commander…it…Sir, you really just need to see it."
Frowning he answered, "Alright, I'm on my way."
Turning left down the corridor he made his way to the turbo lift. Lieutenant Reed was waiting at it.
Seeing him there, Trip asked, "Did you get…"
"A call from Hoshi? Yes."
"Hunh. Wonder what it is. She sounded a little shaken up."
The doors swished open and they stepped inside and Reed punched the button for the bridge. "I don't know sir. The last couple days have been pretty stressful."
"True, I just hope it's not another problem."
The doors of the lift opened to the bridge. The view screen, no longer crackling with static, was blank. The repair crews were too occupied with the more essential repairs to fix such a minor subsystem. Ensign Mayweather sat on station at the helm, but when Trip turned his eyes toward the communications console, Hoshi wasn't at it. Blinking in surprise he swiveled his head back toward the only place she could be. Moving forward, he found her bent over the computer table at the back of the bridge. A large star chart displayed itself over the screen.
"Hoshi?" He asked getting her attention.
"Sirs," she said, straightening up.
"What's so urgent that you needed us both up here Ensign?" Malcolm asked.
"It's this sir," she said gesturing down at the screen.
"A starmap?" Trip looked back up at her, puzzled.
Malcolm continued to look at the screen, with the feeling that something about the starmap was different…wrong.
"You know we've gotten the sensors partially up." Trip nodded as Hoshi spoke. "We thought that since we were no longer in the vicinity of the black hole, we must have been thrown away from it somehow. Well, when we took a star position reading to determine our location, we got a really weird result."
"Wha'dya mean?" The commander looked askance at her rather disturbed expression.
"The computer thinks we didn't move at all, but it's a little confused over a few things." She turned back to the star chart on the screen and pointed to it, "Look here. There's Sol, and there's Alpha Centauri, and there's Epsilon Eridani, but look over here. Where is Andor? And Risa? In addition to the singularity vanishing there are half a dozen different star systems missing."
"What…" Trip trailed off unable to voice a coherent question as he looked over at Reed who appeared as uneasy as he felt.
"And that's not all." Hoshi's voice drew their attention back to her. "The repair crews got the subspace receiver back online just a few hours ago, so we can listen but we can't send. I've been listening since then, and there's nothing."
Reed spoke up, "Ensign, it isn't like anyone is going to be immediately trying to contact us, Starfleet…"
"No, you don't understand," her voice was a little frantic. "There is nothing at all. Even in deep space we catch fragments of subspace signals from different species and ships, and the static generated by subspace fields and other devices. There is none of that, just total silence."
Trip had a really bad feeling growing in the pit of his stomach.
"It's as if there were no one using subspace at all, not for anything." Travis spoke from his station at the helm.
Looking at the tense, disturbed faces of his fellow crewmembers, Commander Trip Tucker thought to his captain in sickbay, "Jon, wakin' up right about now would be real good."