Spoilers: "Shockwave, Part One."
Author's Note: This is the last of my additions to Season One. Hope you enjoyed it. Thanks so much for all the kind reviews. It's been great fun reading your comments. I should give a nod once again to Chrissie's Transcripts Site for making this much easier, to Trek Core for providing visual inspiration – and, of course, to everyone who created Enterprise in the first place.
Upon leaving the captain's ready room, T'Pol headed straight for Ensign Mayweather. "Please lay in a course for these coordinates, Ensign," she said, and handed over the Padd Archer had given her.
She was conscious of Tucker standing and staring at her for a moment, before he abruptly turned and left the bridge.
He had been quite obviously upset. Absenting himself was undoubtedly preferable to indulging in an emotional meltdown in front of the crew.
"Course laid in," Mayweather said.
She hesitated. What was the slowest they could go and still arrive within the three days the captain had specified? "Warp two, Ensign." She certainly had no desire to get there early.
Ensign Sato said, "Where are we going?"
"We have been ordered to rendezvous with a Vulcan ship that will be picking up me and Dr. Phlox. Starfleet has recalled Enterprise," T'Pol said. "They've cancelled the mission."
They all stared at her in shock, except for Reed, who scowled darkly as if he'd expected it all along.
T'Pol gazed stoically back at them. Was this one of those moments when it benefited the mission that she was Vulcan and therefore would not react emotionally, or a time when her lack of understanding might be a liability?
Was there enough mission left for it to matter either way?
This was a most disagreeable situation.
x x x
Tucker's face was stormy when he answered her chime at the door of his quarters.
She decided that a reminder about the necessity of maintaining ship's discipline might be helpful, but she took some care to keep her voice soft. "Commander, I don't believe your duty shift is over for another six hours."
"What are ya going to do, put me on report?" He turned on his heel and paced back into his quarters.
She followed him in. "I am simply concerned," she said. "Is your head injury bothering you?"
"No, it's fine." Perhaps unconsciously, he rubbed the bump on his forehead. "It's just ... I'm just so angry I could spit!"
T'Pol had never witnessed a Human spitting in anger before, and she was quite certain that she didn't want to now. "Perhaps I should leave you to your spitting, then," she said, and turned to leave.
He raised his voice. "You're probably just fine with all this, aren't you? Probably looking forward to going back home. Maybe you can go ahead and marry that Koss fella now after all, and start pumpin' out little pointy-eared babies!"
T'Pol stiffened. "As it happens, I am not 'fine' with this turn of events. Unfortunately, three days do not leave me much time in which to gather an effective counter-argument for the High Command, especially when their existing prejudices have merely been reinforced by this disaster. There is also little I can do if the captain himself is not inclined to oppose this."
Tucker had begun to pace back and forth. "I never thought I'd see Cap'n Archer let us down. He fought for years to get out here. And now he's just folding up and letting them get away with this!"
"The captain feels personally responsible for 3600 deaths. Indeed, as captain, he is responsible for them, if anybody is."
"I don't buy that, either. Not yet. If you ask me, something smells damned fishy here."
She cocked her head at him. "Fishy?"
"I mean it's suspicious."
"I agree. Unfortunately, by leaving the colony we have drastically curtailed our investigative options. However, Mr. Reed has requested permission to run another, more detailed scan of the shuttlepod and I have authorized him to do so."
Tucker finally stopped pacing and slumped down on his bunk. "And if he doesn't find anything?"
She tried to offer him something positive to think about. "This crew will always be known as the first Humans to venture into deep space."
His lip curled. "Yeah. The ones who failed so spectacularly it put the whole space program back a decade or two."
"I'm sure that whenever it resumes, they will still require capable and experienced engineers."
He sighed. "By then I'll be in my forties or fifties. Exploring the universe is a young man's game. I'm not like Jon. I always figured that at some point I'd go back home and settle down, have a family. And once I do that, I'm not going to want to leave my wife and kids behind for years at a time. This was the perfect time for me to do this … my best chance to explore strange new worlds and work with an engine that's actually doing exactly what it was designed to do. And now, bam, it's all over, practically before it even started!"
T'Pol was reminded once again of how brief the Human life span was compared to her own. Even so, she was surprised by the commander's analysis. "Your goals are … more traditional than I would have assumed."
"Don't you want a family some day?"
She took a moment to make sure her voice was perfectly even, her face perfectly schooled. "By not returning home to marry Koss, I may have already made that impossible."
His eyes widened. "What? Why?"
"Vulcan marriages are arranged, as you know. Among the extremely limited pool of remaining potential mates, my choice to reject my betrothed in order to serve aboard a Human starship is unlikely to be regarded favorably."
His brows drew in. "Why the hell didn't you say something about THAT when you were going on and on about all the reasons you were supposed to go through with it?"
Her eyes narrowed at his description of her as 'going on and on.' "I assumed that would be self-evident."
"Well, it wasn't! I wouldn't have given you the same advice if I'd known that… assuming you actually want marriage and family, anyway." He raised his eyebrows.
Just because he was asking an unspoken question didn't mean she needed to provide an answer. "We must persuade the captain to oppose this decision," she said.
"If I try to do that in the mood I'm in right now, I might end up getting thrown in the brig. And as it is…" He sighed heavily. "I might just resign. I'm not sure I have enough respect for the people in charge of Starfleet anymore."
T'Pol pursed her lips. Could Tucker not see that he was, like Archer, giving in to a most unhelpful degree of despair? But perhaps she should heed Phlox's advice about allowing Humans time to grieve. It appeared to be an inescapable requirement of their volatile natures.
It was unfortunate that time was one thing they did not have in abundance right now. By the time Archer and Tucker were ready to approach this problem in a positive way, she might be gone. She had no doubt that once that happened, the Vulcan High Command would keep her well away from Humans for some time to come.
"I must return to the bridge," she said.
"I'll be in Engineering shortly," he said. "I'm sorry I left my post, Sub-Commander."
"It was undoubtedly preferable to indulging in histrionics in front of the crew."
Tucker frowned, but said nothing.
She turned to go, but paused at the door when he spoke up. "I wouldn't worry too much about finding yourself a husband when the time comes, T'Pol. I mean, unless all those Vulcan guys without mates are all blind or something." He smiled. His face had turned just a little pink.
"Vulcans don't worry," she said, reflexively. Tucker clearly had no concept of how actual Vulcans would go about making such an important decision as whom to marry. Nonetheless, she felt oddly gratified by his compliment to her looks.
"'Course you don't," Tucker said, with a smile.
She headed for the bridge. She hoped Reed's investigation would turn up something. It was of utmost importance that they find a way to reverse Starfleet's decision.
That's it for now, folks. I'm on hiatus until a whole lot of other stuff gets done. However, I'm sure I'll sneak back in to read other folks' work, and hopefully I'll be back with Season Two someday. Happy reading and writing, and thanks once again for the kind reviews.