Die, Already
by HopefulR

Genre: Drama, episode addition
Rating: PG
Archive: Please ask me first.
Disclaimer: Star Trek: Enterprise is the property of CBS/Paramount. All original material herein is the property of its author.
Spoilers: Through "Kir'Shara."
Summary: T'Pol's thoughts as she, Archer, and T'Pau head for the Vulcan capital city with the Kir'Shara.

A/N: This is one of the stories I submitted to Strange New Worlds 10.

Thanks to my betas Jenna, WenyaLudjin, and slj91.

Die, Already

Archer was really becoming quite intolerable.

No, T'Pol amended, as she and T'Pau trudged behind him, wending their way through the labyrinth of ancient tunnels deep beneath the Forge. Not Archer, but this amalgam he had become: Archer, Surak's katra, and the lingering presence of Syrran.

This concept of katras— the idea that Syrran had actually transferred Surak's living spirit into Archer's consciousness, along with the unexpected perquisite of Syrran's own vestigial awareness— T'Pol believed it now. Not because of anything T'Pau had claimed, but because Archer's demeanor had become that of a... how would Commander Tucker phrase it?... a high-and-mighty, know-it-all pain in the ass.

At times, the inherent emotionalism of certain human colloquialisms provided a clarity of meaning that the precision of Vulcan speech lacked entirely.

Whatever appellation T'Pol chose for this man, he was most certainly not Captain Archer. The Jonathan Archer she knew possessed the charmingly clueless chivalry to offer her his shades to protect her eyes from her native Vulcan sun. He joked nervously about sehlats, and struggled through the unforgiving heat of the Forge without complaint. He would never presume to tell her how to think or feel about her own culture... or her own mother.

When they had carefully borne T'Les's body to a chamber of the catacombs below the shattered T'Karath Sanctuary, Archer had been the man she knew, a source of strength and compassion. He did not sully the venerated air with platitudes, but offered T'Pol steady, silent support. But now, this man who swaggered importantly ahead of her and T'Pau, insistent on holding both torch and Kir'Shara, hardly pausing for rest or water... this was not her captain and friend.

Even when his words sounded like Archer's, as when he referred to his lifelong puzzlement regarding the Vulcan need to suppress emotions, those words were uttered with disdain, as if the speaker were insulting Archer's past ignorance, rather than merely recognizing it.

Surak could not be treating Archer with such contempt, T'Pol decided. Perhaps she was reluctant to ascribe shortcomings to a man she so revered. However, she thought it far more likely that the source of discord within Archer was this errant spirit-shadow of Syrran, who was evidently too reluctant to concede, even in death, that he was no longer Surak's "chosen" one.

It was little wonder to T'Pol that Surak had withheld the location of the Kir'Shara from Syrran, even after residing in the man's mind for two years, but had found Archer worthy of the knowledge after only two days. From the moment T'Pol and Archer had first encountered Syrran, he had displayed the same prejudice as the High Command leaders whom he opposed; his distaste for Archer's humanness was disappointing testament to that. Moreover, he exhibited a distressing lack of humility. T'Pol would not have been surprised had Syrran attempted to style himself as some sort of latter-day messiah— the bringer of the True Word of Surak.

How ironic that Syrran's prophetic warning about the Forge was visited upon him, rather than Archer... and that he had the ill timing to die before he could reap the public rewards of his revolutionary fervor.

Grudgingly, T'Pol realized that she was not giving Syrran his due. He was a dedicated and dynamic disciple, a visionary. As he lay dying, his only thought had been to transfer the katra and ensure that Surak's essence survived. But that honorable act did not give Syrran license to take advantage of Archer's goodwill, and hijack his mind and body in such brazen fashion.

T'Pol wished fervently to have her captain returned to her. He was growing more feverish and fatigued with each passing hour. She was uncertain whether he would endure long enough to reach the capital city and present the Kir'Shara to the ministers of the High Command. T'Pol feared not only for Archer's health now, but his life.

She offered him water again, this time refusing to fall back when he cockily declined. She did not leave his side until he had taken a generous swallow.

T'Pol would endure Syrran's arrogance in order to ensure Archer's survival, and Surak's. And when Surak's katra was safely gone from Archer's consciousness, then the stubborn echo of Syrran, his pitiful quest for the logician's favor forcibly ended, would have no recourse but to accept death and pass on into oblivion.

At least then he would be quiet.