Through a Mirror Darkly, Pt 3.
T'Pol lay on the bunk, racked with despair. Again and again she went over her actions and tried to understand how she could have gambled away her people's future so recklessly. Now Archer would become Emperor. Archer never forgot a slight and he would never forgive her people her rebellion. Someday soon Vulcan would perish under Defiant's huge phaser banks. She was helpless to prevent it.
Turning to face the wall, she shivered. The Humans in this universe were beasts. War was their birthright and weakness universally despised.
Admittedly, Vulcan history was also dark in this universe. All of the subject nations of the Terran Empire had far bloodier histories than their extradimensional counterparts. The Surak of Defiant's universe had never ordered the massacre of the dissenters. There had never been a Tellurian conquest. The Rape of Klinghazi had never occurred, or the Ferengi Genocide. Vulcan had much to answer for long before the Terrans had burst free of their solar system and begun their relentless assault on the universe.
Tossing fitfully, she turned again. The bunk was padded, but she couldn't get comfortable. Ironically, it was too soft. Only the Federation would pad the bunk in a prison cell. The Terran Empire wouldn't have bothered with a bunk. Prisoners could sleep on the cold duralloy deck or not at all.
She had been a fool to imagine that a government with similar principles to those of the United Federation of Planets could be brought into existence in this benighted universe. The fact that many of the people were identical in appearance and similar in their job functions did not mean that the societies were at all compatible. There had to be a difference in the two universes, a difference that went beyond circumstance. Something fundamentally skewed.
She was different. Darker than her counterpart. Cold and calculating by nature, not just because she was forced by her environment. T'Pol had consistently chosen the low road when given the opportunity to choose. Morality had never been permitted to infect the meticulous logic by which she pursued her goals.
Instead ofsoliciting Commander Tucker's willing cooperation, she had used overwhelming mental force to complete the bonding and then mind-raped him, brutally and repeatedly. He had been no better than her slave for months. She had used him without remorse and he had suffered terribly for it. It had taken all of her discipline to mute the waves of agony crashing over her through the bond when he had been in detention. Her marvelous discipline had enabled her to act with the utmost cruelty without feeling either enjoyment or sorrow, exactly as her universe's twisted version of Surak had taught.
The other T'Pol's logic had been leavened by a concept called IDIC, a doctrine of which the Vulcans of this poor universe had never heard. The concept of IDIC was the jewel in the crown of the United Federation of Planets and served as the philosophical basis of the multi-racial society. Lies were an abomination and the logic of peace was thoroughly proven.
Logic without IDIC was merely an excuse for cruelty without sadism.
Her counterpart had openly married her version of Commander Tucker. They had produced three beautiful children and had lived an idyllic life together on the colony world of New Arcadia for the remainder his lifespan. T'Pol Tucker had never married again after his death, choosing to pursue a career in temporal physics instead.
T'Pol opened her eyes and stared at the brightly lit ceiling. She would never know such contentment. She would be gang-raped by the MACO's, then brutally executed in the foulest, most humiliating way that they could devise. Commander Tucker would feel her terror through the bond after they broke her will and be compelled to attack them. He would die too, uselessly, and there was nothing that she could do about it.
Despair finally penetrated her cold emptiness as her logic crumbled. She did not deserve to live. Neither did her people. Vulcans without IDIC were nothing more than a contemptible race of psychopaths, coldly calculating the odds. Without an investment of faith in something greater than themselves, they were unable to muster the courage or compassion of their counterparts.
She recalled a picture that she had seen in Defiant's database.
T'Pol Tucker stood holding her daughter, her husband's arm encircling them. The small family was gazing at each other with identical expressions that could only be described as requited love.
Love. Had such a thing ever existed in this foul place, even in potential? Why had she chosen the Commander over her fellow Vulcans cursed to serve Enterprise? He was attractive to be sure, and he was a good ally for her patron, Captain Forrest. Tucker had also pursued her relentlessly from the first moment that he had seen her. She had dreamed of him and it was to him that she had gone when the microbes had brought on her premature Pon Farr. Instead of making him truly hers as her counterpart had, her twisted false logic had compelled her to subordinate his needs to hers, to use him to achieve her goals, subjecting him to the most brutal torture imaginable. Now everything was over for her but her upcoming ordeal.
Silently, she began to weep for what she could never have. Love was beyond her reach, as was trust and life itself.
The ostensibly locked door abruptly hissed open, overridden from the outside.
The guard on duty sprang to his feet, clawing desperately for his phase pistol, but a Federation phaser beam struck him and his form shimmered into vapor, melting away into the subatomic realm.
Commander Tucker stepped deliberately into the brig, the door closing behind him. The brig alarm systems had been overridden from the main computer core and the guards stationed outside of the door phasered without warning. He was alone with the Vulcan bitch. At least she had quit clawing at his mind.
Standing in front of the cell, he glared at her through the shimmer of the force field. So much for those vaunted Vulcan ears. She hadn't noticed his arrival or the guard's abrupt 'departure.' Not that anyone would worry overmuch about that. There were always more MACO's to replace the losses.
Peering closely at her, he saw the minute shaking of her shoulders and smirked. She was crying like a baby. A human baby.
"Ah told you that you'd regret betrayin' me."
T'Pol rolled over and stared at him with wet eyes. "I regret many things." Her voice was unsteady.
Tucker frowned at the emotion in her voice. Unless she was really scared, she had rarely shown as much emotion as the ship's computer. "Ah thought that you Vulcans didn't go in for regret." Tucker's hard, raspy voice pronounced 'Vulcans' with a particularly accusatory inflection.
"Are you here to kill me? If so then do not hesitate." T'Pol looked at the phaser and felt peace. Maybe she could atone for her career as a rapist by giving him a sense of closure.
Tucker smiled coldly. "You'd like that, wouldn't you? I kill you, go crazy from this mindscrew of yours and then go kill myself. Instant revenge eh, T'Pol? Very logical." His smile turned into a snarl. "Git the hell outta my head, Woman! Let me go!"
T'Pol did something that she had never allowed herself to do before. She fully opened herself to the bond, feeling his overwhelming, sick horror at her psychic manipulations. Her unchecked despair had weighed him down to the point that it had almost destroyed him. Suicide had seemed a good choice but he had killed the guards instead. He was bluffing, unable to pull the trigger on her.
"I cannot. We are bonded. If you go to sickbay and sedate yourself you will survive my defilement and execution with minimal affect. The bond will eventually pass and you will recover. I am… sorry. There are no words." T'Pol stood, radiating her regret and sorrow. She reached forlornly toward him, but burned her hand on the force field.
Tucker jerked. "Stop that!" Pacing, glaring at her and rubbing his hand, he finally had to speak. "I know what you were thinkin' about earlier. Me an' you are quite an item on the other side of the mirror. I read some of Trip's diary in the database. They call him Trip, you know." He halted, narrowing his eyes at her. "I don't believe it though. No one could really be that happy. I think she's got him all messed up in the head, just like you got me. Poor bastard thinks he's eatin' steak, but he's really got a big ol' shitpot full of Vulcan lies on the table in front of him."
Stung, T'pol finally got mad. "That is untrue. T'Pol loves Trip with all of her being. She and he meld for extended periods and their bond grew to be one of the most durable on record. It is nothing like the perversions and violations that you have endured at my hands. I am merely a rapist and you are my victim. They are our better halves and now that I know of their existence I no longer wish to lead this empty life or to inhabit this flawed universe."
Tucker snorted. "Think its Candy-Land over there, Girl? They got just as many bastards around them as we do." He sneered. "They aren't that all-fired perfect, either. They did their share of dirty work in the Expanse. The only difference is that they get to be the 'good guys' and no one backstabs them for it like they would here."
Tuckerfrowned. "To do the right thing here, you'd have to kill off a whole lot of people first."
T'Pol considered, then agreed. "The roster of personnel serving aboard their Enterprise was nearly identical ours. Virtually all of the people that I have met aboard our Enterprise were listed as Enterprise crew or common visitors. The difference between our societies is not genetic, or one of simple historical circumstance. At this rate of statistical variance our universes should have long since diverged into complete incompatibility."
Tucker's face twisted in disgust. "Tell me about it. I saw a picture of myself hugging that limey sonuvabitch Reed. Almost pooped my pants." Tucker shuddered. "Even worse, 'Trip' worships that creepy bastard Archer. Calls him his 'best friend.' Watches water polo with him." Tucker shook his head in amazement. "Water Polo. Can you believe it? What kind of man watches water polo, especially with a shit-heel like Archer?"
Tuckerfrowned, unable to hide his fascination. He had no friendsat all. His engineering crewmen were his subordinates. He was friendly when he could be, but he could never truly be their friends. His counterpart had many, many friends. Almost everyone that Trip Tucker knew was his friend. His funeral had been moved to a stadium because of the enormous crowd.
Charles Tucker wished forlornly that he could have some friends. It had been an impulse that he had suppressed in order to make rank. Only ruthlessness and cold competence could advance an officer's career in the Empire.
T'Pol wiped a tear away. "They are indeed very different people. Lieutenant Reed was Trip's best man at our- their wedding. Captain Archer gave the bride away." T'Pol sighed, imagining it. "They are beings of a better quality than we can aspire to become."
Trip snorted. "I think this whole universe is just a giant ant farm. Some damned devil made this place as a copy of them and then screwed it all up. Probably thinks it's funny to compare us lowdown turds with the real thing."
T'Pol turned away, a fresh wave of despair filling her. He was so lonely that he would even talk with her, his betrayer. It was unendurably pathetic. "I agree. There is intelligent design evident in the close correspondance of this imperfect copy with the universe of the Federation.Thus, a designer is implied. I no longer wish to participate in that being'sexperiment. I have no further purpose here. Please, for your own good, spare me the torture. I will suppress our bond and you may end my life swiftly with the phaser. The psychic damage will be minimal."
Tucker sat down at the guard station with a sigh. His affair with T'Pol had seemed like a miracle at first. His Vulcan lover been the closest thing to a friend that he had since his sister had died in the Xindi incursion. The aching loneliness of his empty, solitary life had pushed him deeper and deeper into her web. Then the shattering series of betrayals had come. In spite of it all, he still felt an intensly primal tug of desire when looking at her.
"You know that I can't do that, T'Pol." He looked at her closely. "If you could do anything, be anything, what would it be?"
T'Pol considered. "I would oppose the creator of this hell. I would bring the concept of IDIC to Vulcan and reconcile the Terran Empire and its alien subjects. A ruling parliament and a pan-empire elected body would be formed to replace the corrupt House of Lords. The Emperor would become a figurehead and the fleet would stop its endless, useless conquests and become the disciplined force for exploration and defense that the peoples of the Empire need to survive."
Trip snorted. "You mean take over management of the slaughterhouse and spend the rest of your life wading in blood up to your neck, trying to make a silk purse out of this sow's ear of a universe."
"The work would be very difficult, but it would be the right thing to do. What would you do?" T'Pol was beginning to regain her equilibrium. Being open to his mind caused her emotional overload to subside very quickly. She found that she could use his Human coping mechanisms to augment her own logic. Commander Tucker had a great deal of experience at coping with pain and disappointment.
He smiled dreamily and then looked away. "I'd go to New Arcadia, find a placeten thousand miles past the backside of beyond, build a snug little house and just live there." He focused on her, anger growing in his voice. "With someone that looked just like you, but that I could trust not to put the whammy on me and send me off to the god-damned agony booth whenever it was convenient."
She nodded. "An extremely attractive notion."
He exhaled in exasperation. "So then why the hell did ya have to rub it in about mindscrewing me? I only suspected."
T'Pol paused, then decided that she would never lie to him again. "I needed your anger. I could feel it burning through the bond and it served me well. Without my emotional control I would be angry too, very, very angry. I found that through you, I could access the emotion without the loss of control entailed by giving in to my emotions. I was feeding off of you."
She looked away from him. "Logic on its own is inadequate. My actions were beneath contempt. I am beneath contempt."
Tucker nodded. "None of us little ants in this ant farm are worth a shit, T'Pol. But that's the way that we were made." Tucker scowled, his intense hatred for the creator of this universe nearly overwhelming him. "Maybe we can change things now that we know what we're supposed to be."
He punched the button that turned off her force screen. "Come on. We can download the Federation database and take one of Defiant's heavy shuttles. They've got nearly the range and speed of an NX class. I'll set up the warp core to blow as soon as they call for weapons." He didn't give a damn what happened to Earth.
T'Pol sat, unmoving. "Where do you propose that we go?"
Tucker grinned. "Arcadia. But I want you to teach me how to avoid those mind whammys on the way."
T'Pol stood. "Done."
Tucker started to reply when Hoshi Sato's voice came over the intership, announcing her impending ascension to the imperial throne.
"Archer's dead." Tucker whitened with rage at having his plan so suddenly thwarted. He was the ranking Human officer aboard Defiant now. Security was in place in Engineering and would undoubtedly pick him up on sight and confine him until he had proven his loyalty to Sato. Sato hated T'Pol and would order him to kill her as a test of his loyalty the instant that she remembered the Vulcan.
"Our plan... will fail." T'Pol felt her hearts beating heavily. As always, nothing good could exist for very long. Not even a dream.
Trip scowled. "Damn it! We'll never make it off the ship now. I knew that she was scheming with Mayweather, but this… That's it then. Archer would have lost interest eventually, but that vindictive little whore will never stop hunting us."
T'Pol closed her eyes. "We have two alternatives. We can flee to confront the Empress later or-
"Triple cross her, take over the takeover and be wading up to our necks in blood for the rest of our lives." Trip hardened himself and took her hand, pulling her close. "Open up, girl. Let ol' Charlie in for a look-see. If I'm gonna do this I've gotta be sure about who's got my back."
"Very well, if you wish to chance it." T'Pol complied, placing her hands on his face for a meld.
Tucker's face hardened. "If you mindscrew me again, just kill me afterward, T'Pol. I mean it. Quick and sudden. Don't ever let me find out."
"You have nothing to fear. My mind to your mind." T'Pol had melded with him many times to erase his memories of their casual sexual encounters. She had not wanted Captain Forrest suspecting that she had been suborned. The meld was quickly accomplished, but this time she left his perceptions alone.
He explored a little, regaining his subborned memories. In the short time they hadthey saw each other's determination to thwart the creator of this hell and make a better universe for their children to inhabit. Mentally, they pledged their loyalty to each other and their cause.
Tucker was finally satisfied. Breaking the connection, he grabbed her hand. "Come on, darlin,' Sato has to be callin' an officers meetin' about now. We'll take the jeffries tubes to auxiliary control. I already set things up so I could run the ship from there if Archer came after me." He had containment fields in place, keyed on his own private codes. From auxiliary control he would use the ship's sensors to locate and transport the security teams to the hanger deck, where their oxygen ration would be under his control. He would then cut off all but intership communications and his engineering teams would be the only organized force left on the ship.
With that nucleusto hold the ship and T'Pol securely ensconcedon the command bridge of Defiant, a compliment of Vulcans,just enough of them to hold the Human crew in check but not enough of the bastards to take over matters on their owncould be beamed aboard.
Then he could go to the surfaceand begin the gruesome, brutal task of reconciling the Imperial Government to his rule.
"Yes, my Emperor." T'Pol took his hand and let him lead her out of the brig.