The four hours went by slowly. Lieutenant Reed had checked and double checked the guards who would be standing outside the conference room. Most of the men were apprehensive about being without their weapons, but the captain explained the situation to them, albeit not in much detail, and they understood his reasoning and were trying not to show their nerves.
Major Hayes had insisted on being one of the armed guards and had chosen CorporalMcKenzie to be his back-up. Now all they could do was wait.
Meanwhile, the crew was getting antsy. Only the senior officers and Major Hayes knew the full truth. The guards and Corporal McKenzie had been briefed to a point, but all the others knew was that they were rendezvousing with an alien vessel that had a human on board.
Back on the other ship, Iris was pacing back and forth in the small room she shared with Worev. He burst in and stormed over, grabbed her roughly by the arm and asked, "What the hell are you doing?"
She stared directly into his eyes but didn't try to pull her hand away as she said, "I am doing what is honorable and I am doing what I must."
He narrowed his eyes and tightened his grip, "Then all those year before, what were you doing them?"
She replied snappishly, "I was doing what I could. Even when I wasn't a prisoner anymore, I still had no way of getting back to earth."
He growled and shook her, "So this life you built for us was nothing more than…a…a…a"
She practically yelled, "Things were different once I met your father."
He stopped shaking her and his grip slackened. She took a deep breath in and said, "Once I met him, I…I fell in love with him. I knew then that my future lay with him, and since it was impossible for me to turn myself in, there was nothing stopping us from living our lives together. Once he died, I had you and your brother and I still couldn't go back, so I took the position the captain offered me. Now that I have the chance to do the honorable thing and turn myself in, what else can I do?"
He dropped her hand, before storming over and punching the wall. Being made of metal, it didn't even dent under his fist. He growled in frustration. She sighed; she hated seeing his hurt himself like this, but she knew from bitter experience that there was nothing she could do to stop him.
Then he turned around and came up to her and put his hands on her shoulders. She placed her hands over his and looked up at him. He said, "You make a good point. There is nothing else you can do is there?"
She could hear the chocked up emotion in his voice. She sighed and said, "No."
He squeezed her shoulders tightly before yanking his hands out from underneath hers and storming out of the room. She opened her mouth to call him back but closed it as she thought better of it. There wasn't anything left to say except goodbye, and they silently agreed to put that off until the last minute.
She sank down onto her bed. She sighed. Back on earth, she would have had trouble sleeping on a bed this hard. Now she hardly noticed how hard it was unless she took the time to really think about it, like now. In a similar way, if she had been the same as she was when she left earth, she would never have argued as she just had for turning herself in. The only reason she would have done it was if the captain convinced her it was for the good of the ship. Her time in space had changed her. It was strange to think about being around other humans again.
Back on the Enterprise Hoshi and T'Pol were sitting in the mess hall, across from each other at a small, table. T'Pol was sipping a cup of tea, while Hoshi had a cup of coffee. Hoshi was rubbing her forehead, "It doesn't make sense. "
T'Pol raised one eyebrow, "What doesn't make sense?"
Hoshi frowned, "Iris' escape. The captain asked me to look into it and I can't make heads nor tails out of it."
"What transpired?" asked T'Pol.
Hoshi looked up, "That's what I can't figure out. There was a video camera in her cell. The footage shows her sitting there and then suddenly, she's not. It's not like she just moved out of view of the camera. She practically went poof." She gestured with her hands for extra emphasis.
T'Pol took a sip of tea, "A human prisoner does not just disappear. There is certainly a logical explanation."
Hoshi frowned, "Like what?"
T'Pol thought for a moment, "A transporter could create an illusion of disappearance."
Hoshi sighed, "The transporter wasn't invented until 10 years ago. "
T'Pol raised her eyebrow again, "Perhaps not by humans, though several species had perfected it by then."
Hoshi considered this a moment, "I suppose, but humans and Vulcan's didn't make contact until over forty years after her escape…although she is out here where supposedly there are no human…" she sighed and rested her head in the crook of her arm on the table, "Nothing about this is making sense."
The two of them lapsed into silence.
Meanwhile, back in Captain Archer's ready room, Admiral Forest was speaking through the computer, "I don't know John, the High Command might not like you meddling in their affairs. "
Captain Archer sighed, "All due respect Sir, they're been trying to get this guy for years. This is a great opportunity to get on their good side."
There was a pause as Admiral Forest considered this, "What does T'Pol think of all this?"
Captain Archer replied honestly, "She's in favor of the idea, Sir."
The admiral consented, "Alright, I'll tell the high command over here. What's this I hear about a human prisoner?"
Captain Archer frowned, "Well, there was a human on the other ship, and I had Ensign Sato run facial recognition." He paused.
"And," Admiral Forrest prompted.
"There's a pretty good chance that she's Iris Johnson." Captain Archer said. He hastily added, "We'll do a DNA check as soon as she gets aboard, of course."
"And Iris Johnson is…?" the admiral asked.
The captain licked his lips, "She disappeared from a police station in a small town outside the city of Boston in 2008 and hasn't been seen since."
"And you really think this woman you're bringing aboard is her?" Admiral Forrest questioned, somewhat skeptically.
"She responded as though she was when we arrested her," said the Captain Archer almost defensively.
"Alright, I'll trust your judgment on this one Jon," said the admiral. "Contact me again when you have the results of the DNA test."
"Of course, Sir. Archer out." The captain cut off communication and sighed.
Back on the other ship, K'Los was sitting with Nova at the table in the work room. They had left the bridge once it was clear they were no longer needed. He turned to her, "Once I leave the ship, you will be required to take over my position."
She looked up at him wide-eyed, "I couldn't possibly do that."
He raised one eyebrow, "I have taught you a sufficient amount of equations to deal with any situation that might arise."
She bit her lip, "But you're so much better than me, and…" she paused to swallow.
He cut in, "I realize the situation is not ideal, but the Captain is counting on you."
She nodded. Suddenly she threw her arms around him, "I don't want you leave."
He returned the embrace almost mechanically, saying softly, "The student must someday come out from under the wing of her master."
Tears began to form in the corners of her eyes, "Why do you have to go?" she asked quietly.
He sighed, "I'm a traitor to my people. I have to face that fact."
She began to cry and he began rubbing her back in slow circles as he let her cry on his shoulder, so to speak, although in actuality, her head was resting against his stomach. They stayed that way for several minutes.
The thought crossed his mind that maybe he should be preparing for his departure from the ship, but he dismissed it. He had very few possessions, so preparations wouldn't take very long at all. Besides, it was highly illogical to leave the ship with an emotionally unstable mathematician, so he stayed in the work room to comfort his apprentice, who was now his replacement.