Major thanks to TJinLOCA for being an awesome beta. I also want to thank Kevin Thomas Riley for being a very, very helpful sounding board. An immense thank you (and congratulations on his recent marriage) to Chrisis1033 for his fantastic "covers" for the previous three fics and I cannot wait to see what he does with this one.
This is the sequel to Endeavour: Ragnarök. It'll be a little difficult to follow without reading that first. Like my previous fics, I'm writing this as prose and using the basic screenplay format (Teaser + 5 acts).
Dramatis Personae – UES Endeavour (NC-06)
Commanding Officer (CO):
Charles Tucker, III - Captain (CPT)
Executive Officer (XO): T'Pol- also Senior Science/Sensor Officer (SCI) - Commander (CDR)
Chief Tactical Officer (TAC): Heinrich ("Rick") Eisler - Lieutenant Commander (LTCDR), 3IC
Chief of Engineering (ENG or ChEng):Anna Hess – Lieutenant Commander (LTCDR), 4IC
Senior Helmsman/Navigator (NAV):Daniel Hsiao – Lieutenant (LT)
Senior Communications/Linguistics Officer (COM):Marie Devereux – Lieutenant (LT)
Chief Medical Officer (CMO): Phlox, civilian rank equivalent of LTCDR
Chief of the Boat (COB): Colin Mackenzie – Master Chief Petty Officer (MCPO), senior enlisted man.
SecForce - "Roughnecks"
Roughneck 6 (OIC):Nathaniel
Hayes – Lieutenant, Junior Grade (LT, JG)
SEAL 7 (NCOIC): Lee Luckabaugh – Senior Chief Petty Officer (SCPO), enlisted
STAB 7 (NCOIC):Miguel Gray - Senior Chief Petty Officer (SCPO), enlisted
Starbase One, 18 December 2156.
Charles Tucker was furious.
It didn't show on his face or leak into his voice as he spoke, but Jonathan Archer had known his friend long enough to recognize the signs of an impending Tucker explosion. Deciphering Trip's body language had become remarkably difficult in recent years– Jon blamed T'Pol's influence for that – but the absolute stillness in Tucker's stance was all the evidence that Archer needed to brace for what was coming.
"Can you explain this?" Trip asked, his voice deceptively calm as he offered Jon a PADD. It was unnecessary: Archer had written those orders himself.
"Explain what?" Jon replied instinctively. Months of dealing with journalists intent on splashing top secret information across headlines throughout the sector had honed his conversational reflexes. A flicker of anger played across Tucker's face for the briefest of seconds before it was replaced by what Archer thought of as Trip's "Vulcan face."
"To: Commander, UES Endeavour," Trip read from the data device, his features utterly devoid of expression despite the fire in his eyes. "From: Starfleet Command. Proceed immediately to Sol Alpha for reassignment and redeployment." He pinned Jon with a dark look and, at once, Archer realized what his friend was thinking. It was, to coin a phrase, a perfectly logical conclusion.
"They're not taking Endeavour from you, Trip," he quickly reassured the younger man, and Tucker seemed to relax fractionally. "In the wake of recent events, however," Jon continued, "Command has decided to revise your mission profile." Trip frowned at that and raised an eyebrow in a distinctly Vulcan mannerism. At any other time it would have been an amusing sight to behold, and was definitely something to tease his old friend about later.
"Endeavour's a warship," the younger man argued with another frown, and Jon shook his head in response.
"Not anymore," Archer revealed softly. As Trip opened his mouth to speak, Jon gave a sharp shake of his head in warning and reached for the comm panel on his desk. "Tyner," he said into it, "hold my calls." He was already depressing a second button as the petty officer acknowledged the command. With a soft rumble, heavy duranium blast shields slid up from the floor, sealing off the viewports that encircled Jon's office. A hatch slid over the small stairwell, enclosing the onetime observation deck completely, and Tucker's expression changed from frustrated anger to wary surprise. His eyes widened further as Jon pulled a device from his pocket; it was clear Trip recognized it, having received a similar device from Malcolm Reed nearly two years ago. Once activated, the device emitted a low-level pulse of harmless radiation that acted as a sort of white noise. This pulse defeated all known eavesdropping gear, including the most advanced sensors that Starfleet currently had in operation. Jon had never asked Reed where the device had come from.
"Three days ago," Archer began softly as he placed the device on his desk, gesturing for Trip to take a seat, "there was an explosion at the warp six complex in Montana." Tucker's frown deepened as he took a seat, but he said nothing. "We lost fifty-three people, including Admiral Jeffries and Captain Williams." The sadness that flashed across Trip's face was understandable: as Starfleet's leading warp engineer, he knew every member of the program personally and had worked with Jeffries rather closely years earlier.
"It wasn't an accident," Tucker guessed, and Jon shook his head, confirming Trip's leap of logic. "Romulans?"
"The investigation is still ongoing," Archer said with a heavy sigh, "but Intelligence is operating on the assumption that the Romulans have additional operatives like Tolaris." Fury momentarily burned in Trip's eyes at the mention of the dead Vulcan rapist, but it was suppressed nearly as quickly as it appeared.
"That doesn't explain this," he pointed out, gesturing with the PADD, and Jon almost smiled.
"Starfleet Command has a new mission for you, Trip," he declared as he leaned forward to explain. Moments later, Trip's eyes widened in alarm.