Classified Mission

Disclaimers:

Trip, T'Pol, and Star Trek: Enterprise belong to Paramount, even if Paramount has forgotten all about them...

This story is an extrapolation of deeper currents to S2E7: "The Seventh." Spoilers for that episode, S1E7: "The Andorian Incident," and S1E14: "Shadows of P'Jem."

I'll be adding a few chapters throughout August, and using this story as the basis of a series of drabbles I'll be writing for Story A Day Sepetember.

As with my previous drabble series, I will be looking for prompt words from my readers….they don't have to be Trek-related, since I love a challenge! So, please – lay 'em on me!

She's reading, deeply absorbed in the handwritten journal of her second foremother T'Mir, when the comm signals a private, privileged communication from the Vulcan High Command. The tone announces that this is a highest level clearance, one which would circumvent normal ship's systems.

There is only one logical conclusion.

T'Pol is aware that she doesn't want to answer it; as though her refusal will change the fact of the call, and what it means. But, as she once said to Commander Tucker, what she wants is irrelevant. The needs of the many outweigh the desires of the one.

She speaks briefly with Minister K'Evel, certain that her manner is clearly betraying her unease, but unable to repress the physical responses, or the emotional discord that triggers them. Minister K'Evel gives no indication of it, but there is no way she's missed the lack of control. Would it be beneficial or detrimental to allow her to believe that it is a result of living and working with humans?

The communication is thankfully brief, and, once it's concluded, T'Pol moves away from her work station. Perhaps it would be wisest to begin reviewing the encrypted information that accompanied the transmission, but she will admit to herself that she is agitated at the thought of doing so. Instead she brings forth her table, her cushions, and her candle, and attempts to meditate.

Each time her eyes close, however, there is a sense of - of something. She can't name the emotions she's experiencing. Nothing in her training has prepared her to do so. She has been fascinated by the diverse range of words the humans she lives and serves with give to their emotional states; but she often doesn't understand the emotions to which they are referring. She's been conditioned, from infancy, to suppress emotion, to separate it from thought and action, rather than to label and define and allow it into every action and thought, as her human colleagues do.

Perhaps it would be useful to be a human now. A human could feel freely, and define the emotions. A human might also know how to deal with them. A human wouldn't be compelled by duty to their world to pursue a fugitive they were frightened to pursue.

Frightened?

Yes.

T'Pol is frightened. She doesn't want to find Menos, face the man who escaped her. She has no interest in returning a man who doesn't wish to return to Vulcan and live a Vulcan life. Seventeen years ago, she had never met a human. Her perspective was different; she did her duty simply because it was her duty.

Now, she questions. What is wrong, in Menos' desire to live freely? Is it so different than her refusal to return home to be Koss's wife, to assume her role as an adult upon her world, produce a child, and ensure the continuation of the species, and the stability of her culture?

Why does she fear facing him, as though everything she knows, everything she's built, will collapse, if she captures him?

She sits until she can't deny the effort at meditation is a failure, that she is only becoming more agitated. She attempts to return to T'Mir's journal, then showers, although she already has, this evening, and goes to the Mess Hall, refusing to admit to herself that she's hoping Commander Tucker will be there, because he will surely notice her unease, and offer solace even if he doesn't understand it, and she can't speak about it.

But he isn't here, and, although she lingers, staring out the window at the stars, he doesn't come. She return to her quarters, and begins to review the materials she's been sent. She is only marginally successful at disregarding the unsettled emotions that will not be repressed, or even suppressed.

She can't restrain the agitation. It grows in her, as she alternately studies the material, rises to pace restlessly around her room, then studies until the fear - yes, she will call it fear, although she's certain it's more complex than that – drives her up again. Never before has she been so inexplicably resistant to completing a mission, and T'Pol can't ignore the fact that it was the mission to capture Menos - this same man - that had led to her resignation from the Ministry of Security. She's never completely understood that choice; she knows only that it was necessary, that she could no longer perform the duties she'd been required to attend to.

Can she, now?

T'Pol sits again, staring into the flame, and sees only the shape of emotions she can't fathom, emotions that are alive and moving in her, twisting her perceptions -

How do humans live, with this as their normal state of being?

Can she, if these unnamed and uncontrollable emotions won't abate, won't be repressed or even suppressed?

Meditation is not helping. It's 0530, still over 3 hours before her duty shift is scheduled to begin, and there is no logic in taking a third shower - but there is a solace she can't deny in the hot water - something she never experienced before coming to Enterprise. She stands under the powerful spray, illogically willing it to drive the unwanted, unnamed, uncontrolled emotion from her...

She stands until the alert says that she's in danger of exceeding her hot water ration, and then prepares for duty. Perhaps it will help to speak to Captain Archer, to extend him the human courtesy of informing him, before he receives the call from Admiral Forrest. He will want to know that Enterprise is to be diverted and placed at the disposal of the Vulcan High Command.

Perhaps, once she has informed him, she will be able to fully commit to the mission, and suppress the her unease...

Decided, she requests the meeting, but it's awkward, and only increases the unsettled energy she'd hoped to alleviate. Captain Archer is displeased; he is illogically sensitive to what he sees as manipulation by her government. In typical fashion, he focuses his displeasure on her. Twenty minutes after she leaves his Ready Room, she receives a message that she is relieved of duty until her mission, 'whatever the hell it is', is complete, and she's been properly debriefed.

Relieved of duty, with nothing to focus on but the matter of retrieving Menos, T'Pol feels the upswell of emotions she can't name, hints of memories that won't resolve into her thoughts, where she can examine them. Surrounded by eighty-two other sentient beings, T'Pol retreats to her quarters, and, for the first time since she arrived here, feels completely alone.

Trip watches T'Pol while pretending not to - either he's gotten really good at that game these last two years, or she's so "agitated" and too busy trying to hide it, to notice. The way she's hugging herself, seeming like she's trying to hold herself together, and vanish in the mass of larger, blue-jumpsuited male bodies, says it's not his covert Vulcan-watching skills.

She's not just quiet, the way she usually is. She's damned near silent. Withdrawn. Almost as though none of this has anything at all to do with her, rather than being her secret mission.

What the hell are they making her do, and why does she look like it's a damned suicide run?

Why doesn't anyone else seem to notice just how upset she is, how strained and miserable she looks? Can't they tell how much this is bothering her?

But no one seems to. Trip pulls a quip or two out of his witticism toolkit, partly to shift the focus, partly to see if he can get anything more to go on than the non-information they're getting from the Cap'n, and the non-anything from her. Mostly, though, to let her know that he's here, and that he sees her. Sees that she's -scared?

Cap'n asks her what she'll need. "Cold weather gear, restraints, and phase pistols," she says, and now Trip knows she's scared. He's scared, too, even while he covers for her by exchanging glances with Travis. Her voice is low and rough with a quaver that says she's feeling way too much to be exactly rational. Finally, her eyes cut his way - but they never make it to his face.

Little Miss I'm a Vulcan; I'm Not Scared can pretend if she needs to. But Trip Tucker knows better, even if no one else does.

If only he knew what to do to make her feel better...or how to get her out of this mission...