Mentem Mortalia Tangunt

By Thalia Drogna

Disclaimer: I don't own these characters, I'm just borrowing them.

Author's Note: Mentem Mortalia Tangunt is Latin from Virgil's Aeneid and means "Our Mortality Cuts to the Heart". This is my first Enterprise fic so hope you like it. This is set just after Enterprise has moved into the Expanse. Please R and R.

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Malcolm Reed was of the opinion that the reception in the mess hall was the dullest event that he had ever been to and he had stood through his fair share of interminably dull events. He particularly remembered a boring Royal Navy ceremony for his father which his parents had insisted that he attend, probably in the hope that he would follow in his father's footsteps and join the Navy. These new aliens which they were now "entertaining" gave even the Vulcans a run for their money when it came to their inability to have fun. To make matters worse he had had to squeeze himself into his itchy dress uniform, which made him even more uncomfortable. He hoped that Commander Tucker would arrive soon to liven up the party, but Trip had been held up in Engineering and had left a message with the Captain that he was going to be late.

They had met the Jorgans a couple of days earlier whilst they were navigating their way through a particularly difficult nebula in the Expanse. The two ships had both been having difficulty re-calibrating their sensors to cope with the various particles present in the nebula, as it turned out they had been working at the problem from opposite ends and Trip was able to merge the two approaches to form a single solution. According to sub-commander T'Pol, both ships were now able to navigate the nebula much more efficiently. The Jorgans had been very grateful for the assistance and Trip had been in seventh heaven getting to examine another ship's engines and sensors.

In a more interesting development, at least as far as Reed was concerned, they had discovered that the Jorgans were old enemies of the Xindi. Captain Archer was hoping that the Jorgans would have information that would help them in their search for the weapon the Xindi were building. Reed was extremely suspicious of the convenient meeting, but he realised that Archer would have to try and exploit the situation. He couldn't let an opportunity like this pass, even if it turned out not to be an opportunity, without trying to get as much information out of the Jorgans as possible. Archer had become much more hard-nosed lately about his decisions and where he would have offered the hand of friendship unconditionally before, he now saw enemies waiting everywhere. In many ways Reed was pleased that Archer now took the security of the ship more seriously but Trip had been worried by the change which had come over the captain, and Reed respected Trip's judgement.

The Jorgans had been invited to visit Enterprise to discuss the Xindi and in an effort to cement the friendship between the races. The Jorgans had also brought some traditional Jorgan wine with them and the senior offices now stood around making polite conversation with the aliens and sipping the yellow Jorgan wine.

The Jorgan captain and his first officer were talking with T'Pol and Archer about some aspect of the Jorgans' culture which Reed didn't understand. Travis Mayweather had found the helmsman of the other ship and was comparing notes with her. Lieutenant Hess, Trip's deputy, was talking engineering with a Jorgan engineer. And Hoshi was as usual having a great deal of fun learning the language of the Jorgans. She had cornered a Jorgan named Meran by the window of the mess hall and was deep in discussion about the finer points of their language. Her almond eyes showed deep concentration as she persuaded her mouth to form the exact sounds of their language. The Jorgan seemed to be enjoying teaching Hoshi.

Reed's idea of hell was having to exchange pleasantries with his opposite number on the Jorgan ship, neither one of them wanting to give away anything important. Besides the Jorgan weapons officer looked as if he was having too much fun chatting up a couple of female Ensigns. How the Jorgan could possibly be attracted to females from a completely different species, he wasn't sure. Reed was debating making his excuses and leaving, when an out of breath Commander Tucker entered the mess hall. He had come from Engineering via his cabin and a change of uniform. His blond hair was still damp from having just got out of the shower and he pulled at the neck of his dress uniform. Archer nodded to him as he entered but continued his conversation with the other ship's captain. Reed thought that Trip looked tired, he'd been working long hours to keep Enterprise's engines in peak condition while in the Expanse, the spatial anomalies had been causing havoc with the ship's systems and it didn't help that he still wasn't sleeping that well.

"Did I miss anything?" said the Chief Engineer homing in on Reed. "Those upgrades to the warp plasma injectors took way longer than expected."

"Just some bloody boring speeches about co-operation," whispered Reed. "T'Pol and the captain finally seem to be getting down to the nitty gritty of how much our new friends really know about the Xindi."

"You have to be a bit subtle with this sort of thing, Malcolm," said Trip.

"If it was up to me I wouldn't have fixed their sensors until they told us everything they knew about the Xindi," said Reed in reply.

Trip rolled his eyes, "yeah and we'd have an intergalactic incident on our hands every five minutes if you were in charge."

"With all due respect, Commander," began Reed but he didn't get to finish the sentence as Archer called them both over.

"Captain Milas and First Office Magin have some things to discuss with me that they would prefer to talk about in private, so the sub-commander and I will be adjourning to my private dining room. Can I trust you to keep the party going while we're busy?" said Archer.

"You bet, Captain," replied Trip, "you can count on us."

"More wine, Captain?" asked one of the Jorgan crew members, who had been delegated the task of dispensing the Jorgan wine.

"Thank you," said Archer. He was about to follow T'Pol and the Jorgans when he turned back to Trip and Reed. "On second thoughts, I think I'll need a clear head for this. Trip, you haven't tried the Jorgan wine yet, take mine." Archer handed Trip his glass, sighed and made his way out of the mess hall.

"What do you make of these aliens, then?" said Reed.

"Seem nice enough, a bit serious," said Trip, taking a gulp of the wine which Archer had handed him. "Hey, this isn't bad," he added looking slightly surprised, "not exactly your Californian Chardonnay, but not bad." His previous experience of alien beverages had been rather less pleasant.

"Yes, they do seem nice enough," said Lieutenant Reed, "that's what's worrying me. They haven't told us anything about why they don't like the Xindi."

"I'm guessing that the Captain will be asking them that as well," replied Trip. "I don't suppose there's any food at this party? I missed lunch today, and breakfast as well come to think of it and this wine is going straight to my head."

"I think there are some sandwiches over there," said Reed, "you really should take better care of yourself, Trip."

"Yeah, yeah, Dr Phlox keeps telling me that," said Trip and went to find the sandwiches. He finished the glass of wine and placed it on the table beside a plate of sandwiches. Suddenly he didn't feel so good, a wave of dizziness swept over him and he made a grab for the edge of the table. He missed and only succeeded in sending his empty glass flying to the floor as his legs gave way and he crumpled in a heap beside the table.

Reed heard Trip's glass smash and, fearing trouble, he quickly made his way across the room to the Commander. A couple of Jorgans had gathered around the prone form of the human, not really knowing what to do and Reed pushed them out of the way.

"Trip!" he said, "are you okay?" He didn't get an answer, so he knelt beside the Engineer and felt for a pulse. "Trip, can you hear me?" he repeated. The pulse was strong but Trip was out cold. Reed went to the intercom. "Reed to Dr. Phlox, I need to you to come to the mess hall, Commander Tucker has collapsed."

"On my way," replied the Doctor, jovial as ever.

Reed went back to Trip and checked his pulse again. There was no change and he seemed to be breathing fine. Probably a bad reaction to the wine, thought Reed, after all he said he hadn't had any food today. He must have been living on coffee and that was never a good idea, not least because Commander Tucker had a fiery temper when he was in a bad mood.

Phlox arrived with a tricorder and took readings. "Let's get him to sick bay," he said to Lieutenant Reed and signalled for two crewmen to help him put the Commander on to the gurney he had brought with him.

"What's wrong with him?" asked Reed.

"I'll know more once I've completed my scans," said Phlox in his usual impenetrable way. Reed knew that there was no point trying to elicit any further information from the Denobulan, the usually good-natured doctor could be as stubborn as a mule when it came to his patients. "You might want to let the Captain know that we are taking Commander Tucker to sick bay though," he added. With that he and the crewmen wheeled Commander Tucker away and left Reed to contact the Captain, not a task he relished.

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