STAR TREK

ENTERPRISE

A Man Accused

Aah, first contact. Trip thought as he walked through the streets of the planet Shie. This is what I signed up with Starfleet about. Well, technically, this isn't the Adiimi people's first contact with an alien race. The Vulcans met them about 80 years ago. I wonder if they initiated contact with the Adiimi at the exact same time they met us?

"Commander Tucker?" a man called from ahead of him.

"Coming!" Trip scolded himself for getting so lost in both thought and the city's sights, he lagged behind on the tour that Prince Col was leading. He caught up. "Sorry. Go on."

The Adiimi were shorter than Trip, primarily because of the slightly higher gravity than he was used to. They also had pale complexions, almost sickly.

Prince Col indicated a nearby building. "We have arrived at the Royal City's key energy production facility."

Trip looked at the building, which blended classical architecture with technology. "Nice."

Suddenly, his tricorder beeped insistently. He took it out and looked at it.

The prince was holding the door open. "Commander?"

Trip looked at the prince, then back at his tricorder. "Oh, it's nothing. Low levels of gamma radiation. Nothing I can't handle." He switched off the alarm and put the scanner back in his pocket.

Suddenly, there was a metallic noise at his feet. He looked down just as an object exploded in a bright flash of light. Trip was thrown backwards, and his head hit the pavement hard.

Trip awakened to find himself in a 6 by 10 cell. He groaned at the pain of his headache, radiating from the bump at the back of his head. His back hurt as well. An antiseptic smell assaulted his nostrils. He stood up, but not all the way, since the ceiling was too low. Ah, that Adiimi height, or the lack thereof. He walked to the door and saw an Adiimi man on the other side of the barred window. "Hey, what's going on here?"

The man walked to a communications unit on the wall and said, "The prisoner is awake."

"Prisoner?" Trip asked, suddenly becoming worried, "I haven't committed any crime. What are you accusing me of?"

"Be silent!" the guard ordered. "You know what you did, so do not feign ignorance."

Trip grabbed the bars of the window and shook the door, testing it. The guard drew an energy rifle and aimed it. "Do not do that again."

Trip raised his hands and walked backwards to the bed. The door has thick deadbolts at the top, middle and bottom. I'm not getting out of here without the key.

He heard the clanging of metal doors opening outside the cell, then footsteps. Trip returned to the window. Two men approached the cell. One wore bright colors, and the other was dressed in a dark blue. The guard bowed, then took out something that resembled a flashlight. He focused a beam of light a few centimeters from the lock near the door and it clunked open.

The three Adiimi entered the cell. The guard raised his weapon as the ornately dressed man spoke. "I am Monarch Dav. I have come to inform you that you will be punished severely for assassinating my son."

"Wait a minute," Trip said. "I haven't killed anybody!"

"A few of my subjects witnessed you fleeing the scene where my beloved son was murdered, then rendered you unconscious when they saw your crime."

"Hold on a second. Somebody threw a concussion grenade at us when Col was still alive! I haven't-"

The king raised a hand to interrupt him. "Save it for your trial. The only reason we have not executed you already is because you have a Vulcan on your ship who cites our treaty with them. If we find any connection between you and Rin Faction, I assure you we will be less than lenient."

Trip bit back a reply, thinking that would only dig him in deeper.

The monarch left, leaving the blue-clad man behind. "I am your defense counsel. Please tell me everything you know. Confession is good to cleanse the soul." He pulled out a tricorder-like instrument and began scanning.

"I've already told you what happened. Somebody tossed a concussion grenade at me and the prince, and that's all I remember."

"You did not bring a weapon down from your ship?"

"No. This was a diplomatic tour."

"And you did not shoot Prince Col?"

"I told you I didn't shoot anybody? Aren't you listening?"

"I will return when your temper has cooled."

Trip sat down heavily on the bed as the man left the cell. Well, at least they've contacted the Enterprise, Trip thought. I hope Malcolm's as thorough as he says he is.

Archer sat down in his command chair. "Why on Earth would the Adiimi think we would bring a phase pistol on a diplomatic mission?"

"It seems to be the only explanation." T'Pol said, "But Commander Tucker knows better than to arm himself for a diplomatic tour."

Archer considered her words. "Scan to see if we've been boarded." He turned to Reed. "I want every weapons locker on this ship searched for missing phase pistols," he ordered. "Senior officers will check to see if their personal sidearms are gone."

"Aye, sir," Malcolm said, then strode to the turbolift.

Archer looked back at T'Pol. "Does this treaty allow us to conduct our own investigation?"

"Under supervision, yes."

"How about arbitration or representation in court?"

"I'll have to look at the treaty again."

"Get started on it." He toggled the intercom on his chair. "Archer to Phlox."

"Sickbay here," came the crisp inflection of the Denobulan.

"How good are you at forensic medicine?"

"Fully versed, Captain, though I lack extensive experience."

"You're about to get a little more. Meet me in the shuttlebay in ten minutes." Archer switched off the intercom and looked at Mayweather. "Prep Shuttlepod 2, Travis."

The lights flicked on in the cell, blinding Trip painfully. The omnipresent smell of the sterilizing agent sickened him again. The grating of metal on metal echoed through the room. He sat up and turned to the door as it opened.

A guard entered, followed by Captain Archer and Dr. Phlox, ducking their heads under the low ceiling.

"How are you feeling, Trip?"

"I'll let you know in a minute," he said as he looked at Phlox, who began operating his medical scanner.

Archer smiled briefly. "Well, at least you've still got your sense of humor."

"I'll do stand-up comedy when I get out of here. Can you or T'Pol work on a way to get me better accommodations?"

Archer indicated the cell in general as he said, "This is it. If it wasn't for T'Pol, you'd be in general population with all the other inmates."

Trip's eyebrows jerked upward as he considered the implications. "Tell her I'm thankful, then."

"We're all thankful the Vulcans established a well thought-out treaty with the Adiimi. Things would probably be a lot rougher for you." Archer sighed, aware of the very low ceiling as he took out his tricorder and pressed the audio record button. "Tell me your end of the story."

"It's simple. My tricorder told me that there was a small amount of gamma radiation in the energy plant. The levels weren't harmful, so I switched it off, then somebody lobbed a concussion grenade at us. The shockwave threw me backwards, and I was knocked unconscious. I woke up here."

Archer holstered the tricorder. "We'll enter that into your official statement."

Trip nodded. "How are things going back on the ship?"

"Rostov's been struggling in your absence."

"Come on, Captain, you know he's as capable as I am."

"Well, you can't blame a man for trying to keep your hopes up."

The high pitch of Phlox's scanner stopped, and Trip looked at him. Phlox had a solemn look on his face. Trip was instantly worried. "What's goin' on Doc?"

"You're as fit as the proverbial fiddle, Commander, although the food they give you could use an infusion of protein." He programmed a hypospray. "This should compensate adequately until our next visit."

As Phlox injected him, his expression remained. "Anything else?" Trip asked.

"Nothing to worry about other than a mild concussion. I was also scanning to disprove some forensic evidence the Adiimi found."

Trip looked questioningly at Archer.

"The local police force found a phase pistol buried close to where you were attacked.

"There's no way I brought a phase pistol down with me. We're supposed to be making friends with these people!"

"I don't doubt you at all, Trip."

Trip turned to Phlox. "Well?"

"I still have to analyze the data." Phlox said as he turned to the door.

Archer clapped a hand on Trip's shoulder and smiled. "I'm sure we'll find what we need. We'll have you out as soon as we can."

"Hang on, Captain. The monarch visited me. He said something about an organization called 'Rin Faction'."

The guard immediately spat on the floor. "Those dogs and all they consort with deserve to be eradicated."

The tension suddenly raised a few notches inside the cell. Archer looked at Trip. "I think that's going to help us out. Good work." Grim-faced, he followed Phlox out and the guard slammed the door shut.

Trip sighed, tried once more to fluff his tight leather-bound pillow, failed yet again, and laid back down on the thin mattress.

Back onboard the Enterprise, Archer followed Phlox into sickbay. Reed was already there, and he asked, "Well, Doctor, what did you find?"

Phlox downloaded the data into the computer, then displayed it on the screen. "It's what I was afraid of, Lieutenant. There are charged alpha particles in his right hand. They've been there for just over four hours."

"But that proves he fired a phase pistol during the tour!" Archer exclaimed.

"That, along with Commander Tucker's fingerprints on the weapon, and his proximity to the victim at the moment the crime occurred, essentially gives the Adiimi the 'smoking gun' they need to convict him."

Reed looked at Archer. "The fingerprint evidence means nothing. The commander's fingerprints are on every phase pistol we have. We perform preventive maintenance on them every month." Reed sighed heavily. "I've checked the commander's quarters. His personal sidearm is still there. My team is combing weapons lockers throughout the ship as per your orders."

"Check up on their progress."

"Aye, Captain." He left.

The intercom sounded. The captain walked to the wall unit and hit the button. "Archer here."

T'Pol's voice filtered through. "Captain, Porthos has escaped again. He's in section 4."

Archer shook his head. "Thank you. Have you found any evidence the Adiimi have transported aboard?"

"No, Captain. Either they haven't boarded the ship, or they're very good at covering their tracks."

"Keep looking." He switched off the comm and looked at the doctor. "That goes for you too." Phlox nodded as Archer left.

Archer could hear Porthos growling as he approached Section 4. He turned the corner and saw his pet beagle pacing the corridor and sniffing vigorously.

Archer bent down and gestured. "Porthos, come here, boy."

The dog looked up and wagged his tail, then went back to sniffing the corridor.

"Porthos, come!"

The dog whined, then sauntered over. Archer picked him up and walked back to their quarters. "I thought Rostov had fixed whatever's wrong with the door. How on earth are you managing to get out? And who were you growling at?"

The door opened, and he set Porthos on the bed. As he opened the cupboard for some dog food, and for the second time he looked in the drawer where he kept his phase pistol. It was still there.

The door chime sounded, and Porthos barked. Archer shushed him and said, "Come in."

Reed walked in, a half-grin forming on his face. "Sounds like you've got a Vulcan sehlat in here."

"With the behavior I've just seen him showing, you'd be just about right." Archer scratched Porthos' ear as he emptied the pouch into a bowl. "Do you have something for me?"

"There's a pistol missing from the locker in Engineering."

Archer frowned. "More circumstances that the Adiimi government can twist into evidence. I'll have T'Pol scan the area of the locker." He turned to point at Porthos as they left. "Now you stay in here."

T'Pol looked up as Archer and Reed entered the bridge. "Status?" Archer asked.

She spoke as her eyes returned to her science station. "Still no evidence of Adiimi transporter activity. Hull plating remains polarized."

"Either the polarization is actually preventing transporter activity, or the Adiimi are finished with us." Reed ventured as he sat at his station.

"Lieutenant Reed has found that a pistol is missing from Engineering. Focus your scans there."

T'Pol nodded as Ensign Sato turned in her chair. "Captain, we're being hailed by the Information Minister."

Archer stood and walked to the left of Mayweather's helm console. "On screen."

A man in a black robe and hat appeared on the viewer. "Captain Archer, this transmission is to inform you that your subordinate's trial is scheduled for tomorrow at this time."

"We appreciate the news, Minister."

"For a fair trial--" the Adiimi official stole a glance at T'Pol, "-- we are sending you a copy of our evidence report, including the security video taken before the act was committed. This will be discussed in the trial."

Hoshi's console emitted a series of tones. She turned and nodded to Archer.

"Understood, Minister. I have a question. What is Rin Faction?"

A venomous expression appeared on the minister's face. "They are a terrorist organization determined to depose the sovereign rule and supplant it with a totalitarian dictatorship."

Archer's eyes narrowed. "Thank you, Minister. Enterprise out." As the image faded from the screen, Archer turned to Hoshi. "Play the security footage on the main viewer."

She pressed buttons on her console. An image of a street on the planet appeared. Trip was walking behind Prince Col as they approached the energy-production facility. As the prince reached for the door, Trip took out his tricorder and pressed a button on it. At that moment, the image winked out.

Archer knitted his eyebrows. "This is evidence? It's hardly definitive."

He turned to Reed, who spoke. "Well, it is hard to explain how the camera stopped recording at the moment the commander pressed the button. It doesn't look like a coincidence."

"But Trip can't have turned off the camera. Why would he do that?"

"If there is evidence to prove him innocent, we have until tomorrow to find it," T'Pol said.

"We've certainly got our work cut out for us. Let's get to it." He turned to Hoshi. "I want you to examine every inch of that recording. See if anything on there is fabricated."

She nodded, but looked apprehensive at the prospect of her monumental task. The intercom sounded, and Archer switched it on. "This is the bridge."

"Captain. Please come down to sickbay. I've just found something."

"On my way." He switched it off and looked at T'Pol. "You have the bridge, but keep looking for transporter evidence."

"Of course, Captain."

Phlox turned from his readout as the doors parted to admit Archer. "What is it, Doctor?"

"Take a look at this reading. The charged alpha particles are shown in gold."

Archer looked at the screen. There was an outline of Trip's body, with a peppering of gold indicators on the scan of Trip's arm. He looked with more curiosity as he said, "They're not just on his hand."

"Precisely, Captain. As you know, when a person fires a phase pistol, a ten-centimeter sphere of charged alpha particles bleeds from the pistol, most of them entering the shooter's hand."

"But they're registering in his shoulder as well."

"Yes. Very atypical behavior."

"The Adiimi would probably say he was using the sights, like this." Archer mimed holding a phase pistol close to his face. "They might say he was shooting from a long distance."

"But Captain, your face is within ten centimeters of the pistol. The alpha particles would be found in your face as well."

Archer looked at the readout. There were no alpha particles in Trip's face. "The information minister said Trip was knocked unconscious near the crime scene. He's a good shot. He wouldn't use the pistol like that unless he was fifteen or twenty meters out." Archer walked to the wall comm unit. "Archer to bridge."

"This is the bridge."

"T'Pol, Have Hoshi send the minister's evidence report to sickbay."

Phlox tapped buttons on his computer console as T'Pol spoke. "What are you looking for, Captain?"

"It could be nothing; it could be everything. Archer out." He joined Phlox at the computer. "Find out how far Trip was found from the body."

Phlox called up the information, then his eyebrows climbed his forehead. "Seven meters."

"There's an answer here. We're just not seeing it. Get Reed down here."

Hoshi watched the footage on her computer screen for a second time, completely clueless as to how to authenticate Adiimi security footage, and unaware of any way to find evidence of tampering. Tuning out all other distractions on the bridge, she played it again and again, paying close attention to anything remotely amiss; anything or anyone else entering the frame other than Trip and Prince Col; any subtle jump cuts in the footage or time stamp that would prove it was edited; anything at all. So far, nothing.

It wasn't until the tenth time that she saw something strange. She squinted at the image, then zoomed in on Trip's hand as he pressed the button on his tricorder. She replayed it in slow motion until the footage ended, then played it again. She called up a chronometer on the screen and synchronized it with the footage. She programmed it to start the moment Trip pressed the button and played the image again.

The time in between him pressing the button and the footage ending: 1.7 seconds. She zoomed the image out and played it again.

She leaned back in her chair and sighed. "Of course," she whispered to herself. "How could anybody think otherwise?"

Then her communications console beeped, startling her slightly. She opened the channel and listened in her earpiece. Her eyes widened in shock as she hit the intercom button.

"Archer here."

"Captain. We're being hailed. It's Rin Faction."

A minute later, Archer and Reed charged onto the bridge. "On screen."

"Audio only, Captain."

"On speakers. Trace the transmission."

A distorted voice filled the bridge. "Is this Enterprise?"

"I'm Captain Jonathan Archer of the Earth Starship Enterprise. Who am I speaking with?"

"I am the Prime of Rin Faction. I wish it to be known that we are not responsible for the Prince's death, and that the Monarchy is lying to you."

"How do we know you aren't lying to us?"

"We have no wish to involve innocent outworlders in the struggle to topple our planet's despotic regi--"

Suddenly, static drowned out the words of the Prime. Archer looked at Hoshi. "What's going on?"

Hoshi was rapidly pushing buttons, trying to clear up the transmission. "We're being jammed."

"Cut it off." Hoshi tapped another button and the white noise stopped. Archer walked to her station. "Have you traced it?"

"He led me on a chase through twenty of the planet's satellites before I traced it to a relay station. He was speaking through something like we had in the 21st Century called a cellular telephone." She pulled up a map on her computer screen and outlined a region. "The relay tower is in the middle of this area. He's somewhere within 100 yards of it."

Archer turned around. "Malcolm!"

"Trying for a transporter lock," he said while working his station. An alarm sounded from it. "What the devil-"

T'Pol looked up from her station. "A transport inhibitor in the relay tower has been activated."

Archer returned to his seat and sat down heavily. "There goes any help we might have."

Reed looked at him. "Then we'll have to prove the commander is innocent on the evidence we've collected."

"I wish there was some way we could find out if this Prime was telling the truth."

"Captain," Hoshi said. "Dr. Phlox and I could run a voice stress analysis on the transmission."

"Voice stress analysis?"

"It's a lie detector based on vocal stress. The Doctor will need to analyze transmissions from the planet in order to establish a working model of how the Adiimi sound when they're talking."

"Sounds good. Get started."

The intercom sounded. "Engineering to Bridge."

"Archer here. What is it, Rostov?"

"Captain, Porthos is here, and we're having trouble getting him back to your quarters."

Archer could hear barking and growling in the background. "I'm on my way."

Archer could hear more barking as he got off of the turbolift near Engineering. As he walked through the door, Rostov and three engineers had Porthos cornered. "Back off. He gets mean when he's surrounded."

The crewmen went back to their posts. Archer bent over. "Porthos? Come here, boy."

The dog was quaking in fear as Archer picked him up. He tried to calm the little Houdini down as he walked through the corridor back to their quarters. Archer set Porthos down on the bed again. He went to the cupboard and pulled out a dog biscuit. Porthos sat on his haunches and dipped his head. "What? You love these." He pulled out one of a different flavor. Porthos looked away. Archer sighed. "You know, I'm going to have to have the Doctor scan you for signs of intelligence one of these days." He pulled out a few cubes of cheddar cheese. Porthos stood up and licked his chops. Archer sat on the bed and spread the cubes out on the mattress. "You've got me trained, instead of the other way around." He watched as his pet happily ate them up. "Now what is your problem? You never act this way when you're..." Archer looked up, an expression of surprise on his face. "...among friends!" He jumped up and activated the wall comm.

The next morning, Archer stood by his chair on the bridge. Malcolm's console sounded. "Proximity alert, Captain. Three Adiimi vessels are on an intercept course."

"We're being hailed," Hoshi said.

"On screen."

A barrel-chested soldier appeared, wearing an ominous military uniform. "Earth Starship Enterprise, this is Captain Rol of Adiimi Defense. You are instructed to leave our planetary system at once."

Archer turned to T'Pol. "Time to arrival?"

"Ten minutes."

Archer took a deep breath, then looked at Reed. "Our time's been cut short. You'll have to forego the shuttlepod."

Reed visibly swallowed, then said, "Aye, sir." He activated his comm. "Dr. Phlox, meet me in the transporter room immediately." He got up.

"Are you ready?" Archer asked.

"Ready as we'll ever be."

"I'll be waiting to hear from you."

"It will be a bit touchy beaming down under these circumstances."

"I'll change them," Archer said with resolve.

"For what it's worth, good luck." Reed stepped into the turbolift.

"Mr. Reed, we make our own luck. But I appreciate the sentiment." The door closed, and Archer stepped beside Mayweather. "Tactical Alert. Ready the phase cannons, but don't deploy them yet." He turned to Hoshi. "Open a channel." As she nodded, Archer raised his voice and said, "Captain? Your transmission is breaking up."

Phlox, Reed and a security team armed only with shock sticks materialized outside the royal court's inhibitor range. They walked briskly toward the tall and ornate building. With the detail surrounding them, they approached the royal guard, who drew their weapons.

"Please, gentlemen," Reed said. "We are only here to observe the proceedings."

The guards aimed their energy pistols.

"Don't make me quote the Vulcan treaty."

The guards hesitated. Reed and Phlox pushed past them and into the doors. As they made their way to the judgment hall, the doctor said, "I was unaware you knew anything about Vulcan law."

"I don't," he said, "I'm an armory officer, not a lawyer."

Together, they pushed the doors aside and walked to sit down in the back of the courtroom.

Hoshi tuned the communications frequency in and out to create a staticky transmission as Archer talked to Captain Rol. "I'm sorry, Captain, our communications array is experiencing difficulties. We're trying to lock down the problem. Could you repeat what you just said, please?"

"... Archer, you have been... the planetary sys... evident complicity... Faction... not comply... forced to engage... confrontation."

I may not have heard all of the words, but I certainly grasp the meaning, Archer thought. "Captain Rol, please listen carefully. Mares eat oats, and does eat oats, and little lambs eat ivy." Archer signaled Hoshi to cut off the transmission, then turned to Mayweather. "Travis, take us to half-impulse. Circle around the planet until we're in their sensor shadow, then establish a geosynchronous polar orbit."

He smiled. "The magnetic interference will confuse their sensors. Aye, Captain."

The Enterprise surged ahead, and the Adiimi ships followed.

The brightly dressed magistrate entered the courtroom, followed by the Information Minister. The judge sat behind the elevated dais, and the minister stood behind him. "The charges against the offworlder, Charles Tucker, is the assassination of Crown Prince Col, and collusion with the enemies of the Monarchy. The sentence is death by dematerialization. How does the prisoner plead?"

Trip's attorney looked more scared than Trip did, who was seated next to him. "He... he asserts he is not guilty of the aforementioned crimes, Magistrate."

"No?" The judge sneered as he looked at Trip. "Bring in the evidence."

A large viewscreen raised on one wall of the courtroom, where the audience and the officials could see it clearly. An overhead reconstruction of the crime scene appeared. "Prince Col was found murdered here in the entranceway to the Tok energy facility." An outline of the body appeared by the door. "He was shot by an alien energy weapon found buried here."

Phlox turned to Reed. "Should we intervene now?"

"I think the defense attorney will have his turn in a moment."

"This might be one of those cultures where both sides can speak at the same time."

"I don't want to risk breaking protocol."

"With all due respect Lieutenant, we might still break protocol if we talk later. Protocol will inevitably be broken."

Reed looked up as the magistrate continued. "Unique patterns of biological material found on the weapon match similar patterns on the offworlder's hand" An indicator popped up in a small flower garden nearby. "Anonymous witnesses observed him fleeing the scene after burying the weapon, then subdued him in this location." An outline of Trip's unconscious form materialized seven scale meters from the model of Prince Col's body.

Phlox leaned over again. "Lieutenant, when will we intervene?"

"Let him finish."

Phlox sighed and looked back at the screen. A scan of Trip's right hand replaced the crime scene re-creation. The magistrate continued. "The prisoner's hand shows microscopic particles emitted by his weapon, proving he used the weapon to murder the Crown Prince." The security footage appeared. "Previous to the act, he deactivated the security camera with another alien device in order to perpetrate his crime." The screen switched off as the security footage ended. "One day ago, the Earth ship was contacted by the bloodthirsty Rin Faction, which is evidence they conspired together to murder Prince Col. This is the proof that the prisoner has murdered Prince Col in collusion with Rin Faction and should be punished accordingly. Does the defense counsel have anything to say?"

Trip's lawyer stood up. "Magistrate, we have not been..." The counselor trailed off as the Information Minister made a show of glaring imperiously at him. "... We do not dispute the evidence, Magistrate."

Trip stood up and looked at him angrily. "Now wait just a minute!"

"We beg the court's indulgence, Your Honor!"

Definitely not a lawyer, Phlox thought as he stood up next to Reed.

The magistrate was outraged. "What is this? Nobody disrupts these proceedings!"

"We have evidence to prove Commander Tucker is innocent of this crime!" Reed said as he and Phlox walked to the dais.

"Remove the aliens from this room," the magistrate ordered. Armed guards walked forward, hands on their weapons.

"We cite the treaty you made with the Vulcans for a fair trial!"

The magistrate raised a hand, halting the guards. "We will honor this small infraction because these offworlders are allied with the Vulcans."

"Magistrate," the Information Minister said quietly, "It is evident they are in collusion with Rin Faction!"

"They will speak."

"But Magistrate! They might be here to assassinate us!"

"They appear to be unarmed. They will speak. I have ruled." He turned to Reed and Phlox. "Present this evidence of yours."

"First of all, we would like to officially state that the Prime of Rin Faction contacted us. He stated that his league was in no way involved in the assassination."

"A likely story. Rin Faction is notorious for being untrustworthy."

Reed looked squarely at the judge. "Is it not typical of terrorist groups to publicly claim responsibility for their acts?"

The magistrate paused. "Tactics change."

Phlox spoke. "We have a method of lie detection, called voice stress analysis. After creating computer models based on your planet-wide transmissions, and analyzing public broadcasts of people both lying and speaking the truth, we were able to determine that the Prime was telling the truth."

"We have a similar method, but it is not admissible as evidence in this court."

Phlox frowned momentarily. "Understood. But we have other evidence. May we present it?"

The judge glared at them, then said, "You may proceed."

"Please replay the security footage," Reed said.

The judge did so. Just as Trip pulled out his tricorder, Reed said, "Please stop the playback there, and enlarge on his hand."

The judge manipulated the footage and zoomed in on the tricorder. "Please note that our handheld implements are on the same technological level as yours. We have determined that if Commander Tucker were to switch off your security camera, the effect would have been instantaneous as he pushed the button. Please resume the display."

The playback started again, and Trip pushed his button. The magistrate watched the time stamp until the footage stopped. "Almost five ochrons!"

Phlox spoke. "Yes. Commander Tucker's tricorder was indicating non-lethal levels of a harmful radiation, and he was switching off its warning."

"The Tok energy facility does not emit harmful radiation," the officiator said.

"If you can scan the facility now, you will find that residual radiation still exists at the facility, although it is no longer being generated."

The magistrate took a moment to manipulate his console to scan the proper area. An overhead image of the royal city was displayed on the main screen. The map zoomed in until it centered on the facility. It took a while as the computer cycled through the various types of harmful radiations. Finally, one was identified, surrounding the energy plant, and indicated by a deep red color.

"This is outrageous! Who is responsible for turning this radiation loose?"

Reed spoke. "We don't know who, but the radiation leak was specifically triggered as a method to help incriminate Commander Tucker, as the real attacker deactivated the camera."

The information minister was indignant. "This is an abominable implication! It can be explained by an accident caused by carelessness, not sabotage."

Phlox approached the dais. "We have more evidence. Please display the image of Commander Tucker's hand."

Still mentally reeling from the news of the radiation leak, the magistrate called up the scan.

"Please widen out so we can see the whole body." The judge manipulated the footage once again. The particles in Trip's hand and shoulder were shown. "As you can see, the particles aren't exclusively in Commander Tucker's hand.

The minister snorted derisively. "Your weapons are quite inefficient. The range of particle emission would be eliminated if they were our weapons."

"Actually, the phase pistol's particle emission during firing is quite harmless, very limited, and does not extend beyond the shooter's hand. As you can see, only his shoulder and hand have been exposed. The elbow has not."

The magistrate crossed his arms, interested. "Then how do you explain this phenomenon?"

"The particle emission extends to the energy beam the pistol shoots as well. The real attacker fired a beam past Commander Tucker's shoulder and arm at a dangerously close range in order to leave the evidence behind."

Reed moved a hand to his hip pocket and, through the fabric, pressed a signal button on his communicator as he spoke. "The murderer lobbed a concussion grenade near Commander Tucker and Prince Col, then fired the pistol during the explosion so it could escape the commander's memory, thus enabling you to implicate him further based on his inability to recall."

"But how did they get one of your phase pistols?"

"They transported aboard to an unoccupied section of the Enterprise, grabbed it from a weapons locker near Commander Tucker's station, returned to the spot and beamed back down. It took us a long time to find evidence of the transport, since the intruder mixed thoron particles into the matter stream to neutralize our sensor energy."

"Do you have any proof of that?"

"A demonstration will arrive shortly." Reed said.

On board the Enterprise, currently hidden from view of the Adiimi ships over the southern pole, Hoshi looked up from her communications console and said, "There's the signal, Captain."

"Alert the transporter room." He turned to T'Pol. "You have the conn. Keep her in one piece." He got into the turbolift.

T'Pol walked to the captain's chair. "Mr. Mayweather. When we have an opening, take us to the north magnetic pole over the royal city at full impulse.

"We might not be able to use this trick again," Travis said.

T'Pol looked at him with resolve. "I am aware of that."

The security detail, having heard Reed's signal as well, moved to the beam-down point. The guards followed them. The Enterprise crewmen formed a circle, facing outward. The courthouse guards surrounded them, hands on their weapons.

Bloom, the squad leader, said, "Back off." The guards closed in as Archer beamed down in the middle of them with a large black case.

The guards drew their weapons. "We cannot allow anyone else into the proceedings. This is an order from the throne."

Archer watched as Bloom said, "Draw and move." The guards drew their sticks and the team began moving as quickly as they could to the courthouse doors while protecting Archer. The guards refused to budge.

"Charge," said Bloom. The shock sticks whined as they built up an electrical charge.

"We only want to prove that our engineer is innocent," Archer said, "We mean you no harm."

The team still moved warily toward the doors. The guards moved with them, but held their fire. They entered the building, and Archer walked toward Reed and Phlox.

"Your Honor," Archer spoke as he set his case down, "I wish to prove to this court who is the mastermind behind this assassination plot, if you will permit it."

The magistrate looked appalled to have the trial interrupted further, but nodded assent.

Archer leaned over and opened a door on his case.

Out hopped Porthos, who immediately started sniffing around. He approached several Adiimi in the gallery, and the members reared back slightly, anticipating an attack. Porthos turned from them, then approached the dais and started trotting faster. He faced the magistrate's chair and growled, then started sniffing again. He turned to his left and began barking viciously. Trip's defense lawyer jumped up and backed into Trip, who grabbed him. Porthos closed the distance and assumed an attack posture.

Archer walked over, and with a barely restrained look of triumph on his face, said, "Porthos! Heel!"

The dog backed off and assumed a position by Archer's right ankle. The captain gestured to Phlox, who took out his tricorder and showed the screen readout to the magistrate. "This is a DNA scan of the person who boarded our vessel and stole the phase pistol." He walked to the defense lawyer, plucked a hair from his head, then scanned it. Phlox sniffed once, pressed a button on the device, turned around and said, "Apart from thoron residue, we have a match."

The Information Minister was angered. "How convenient that you use your technology to implicate a valued member of our society."

Phlox tapped a few buttons as he walked back to the dais, then looked up and smiled amiably. "Magistrate, I assume this fascinating contraption of yours can scan for this particle?" He held up his tricorder again, the readout showing a thoron particle.

The judge looked at it. "We are familiar with this substance." He programmed his console to scan for it, then scanned the courtroom. His eyes widened. "I am picking up not one, but two sources of these particles. "You." He pointed at the defense lawyer, "are not only infused with these particles, you have the alien weapon's residue in your left hand! The other thoron-infused person is... you!" He turned to the Information Minister. He stood up and yelled, "Guards! Apprehend them!"

As the guards moved toward the guilty parties, Archer tossed a cube of cheddar cheese into the case, and Porthos followed it in. Reed walked over. "I guess he isn't called the Information Minister for nothing. He must have run a detailed scan of the Enterprise after we arrived."

Archer closed the case and asked, "Why does he have thoron particles on him?"

Reed half-smiled again. "I guess somebody had to run the transporter."

Archer smiled at him knowingly. "And only a man of his power can alter the emissions of an energy facility."

Reed nodded as the magistrate spoke. "Due to the evidence at hand, I rule that Commander Charles Tucker is innocent of the charges against him, and will be returned to his ship at once with all property seized in the investigation." The officiator pressed buttons on his console, releasing the transport inhibitor over the courthouse.

Phlox walked to Trip and warmly shook his hand in congratulations as Trip's communicator, tricorder and the stolen phase pistol materialized on the floor before them. He picked them up and almost opened the communicator. He looked at Archer.

Archer smiled. "Go ahead."

Trip flipped it open and happily said, "Tucker to Enterprise. Four officers and one dog to beam up."

A staticky T'Pol came through. "One moment, Commander!"

"Full impulse! Evasive pattern Delta!" T'Pol shouted over the sparks flying and the deck heaving as another volley of Adiimi fire hit the polarized hull. The ship rocked port to starboard, trying to elude her pursuers.

Archer's voice came over the speakers. "T'Pol! We've won!"

T'Pol gripped the armrests of the command chair. "Captain Rol is apparently unaware, Captain."

There was a pause over the comm line. The ships circled back for another shot. T'Pol called up another tactic to use. Archer came back. "We're working on it. Have you fired a shot?"

The bridge rocked again. "Not yet."

Hoshi turned around. "There's a transmission coming from the surface for us and the Adiimi ships."

"Put them both on."

The screen flicked on, showing both Captain Rol and the Monarch. The weapons fire continued. The Monarch said, "Captain Rol! Stand down!"

"Mr. Mayweather. Set course for the planet to retrieve the landing party," T'Pol ordered.

The Adiimi commander fumed. "This is a trick! You Earthers have used our satellites before!"

"Captain Rol! This is an Imperial command! You are to cease fire immediately!"

"Lock weapons and fire!"

"Evasive pattern beta three!" T'Pol countered.

Expecting the Adiimi pilots to have slow reaction time, Mayweather put on the braking thrusters, and the Enterprise abruptly stopped all forward motion.

Unfortunately, due to their advanced reflexes and hand-eye coordination, the pilots of the three ships stopped just as quickly and fired.

The Monarch was red-faced. "Rol! You are defying a direct order!"

"Cut off that transmission! Fire all weapons!"

More sparks flew on the Enterprise bridge.

"Captain Rol, your Fleet Captain promotion ceremony next week is hereby canceled! You will instead be reduced in rank to secondary helmsman at this very moment!"

Rol blanched, and his eyes widened. He stood up. "Cease fire!" He stood at attention. "My Monarch, you have my sincerest apologies for doubting your identity!"

"Save it! You might maintain some semblance of dignity if you were to apologize to Captain Archer and his Vulcan first officer immediately!"

Rol slumped visibly. "My... my humblest of apologies to you and your crew."

"Accepted," Archer said over the comm.

"I... hope you will overlook this flagrant violation of the Vulcan Accordance, madam."

T'Pol stood up. "I will consider it."

The transmissions ceased. "Stand down from Tactical Alert. Inform the transporter room that they may bring the landing party aboard."

Later, as the Enterprise left the orbit of Shie, T'Pol looked at Archer. "Will we be visiting them again?"

Archer turned. "Not for a long time. They need to unify their planet first. I'd prefer them to stop the war between the factions before Earth opens diplomatic relations with them."

"Sound advice."

The bridge turbolift opened. Trip walked out and over to the situation table where Rostov stood. "What's the meaning of this?"

"Sir?"

"Don't 'Sir' me. You've ordered an overhaul of the plasma manifolds without consulting me!"

"Well, sir, you were out of communications contact at the time." Rostov looked at Trip for a moment, then smiled. "This is just a little practical joke the staff and I thought up. You know, 'when the cat's away...'"

"'...the mice will play.'" Trip finished, still looking sternly at his subordinate. "And you are definitely a mouse." Trip then looked around at the suddenly hushed bridge. He smiled, then playfully slugged Rostov on the shoulder. "I'll think of an appropriate punishment later, like the sudden loss of hot water in your shower or something." He stood next to the command chair.

Archer looked at him curiously. Trip looked back. "What?"

The captain shook his head and smiled. "Mr. Mayweather, ahead Warp 2."

"Aye, aye, Captain."

The Enterprise leapt forward into the black of space.