Author's Note: I posted this once before under another pen name, but I removed it for some tweaking. I will probably be tweaking it even after posting, but I promised someone I would get it posted. This has been written with the collaboration of Elessar King during some rps we did a long time ago. Thanks for the great material, EK!
Even to care for the needs of the greater good, T'Pol thought this was going above and beyond the call of duty. The humans were a stubborn race that never allowed logic to dictate their actions. She had witnessed their few "logical" decisions and had come to the understanding that it was not the same thing. Granted, the race was capable of magnificent ascensions far beyond those of her people. They had gone from creating the first airplane to landing on the moon in a mere sixty-six years. Now they were on the verge of breaking through yet another barrier – and T'Pol had been assigned to make sure they stayed the course.
A sudden whoosh passed behind her and she turned to see a large fighter craft take off from the ship's docking ports. As the bay doors began to open the windows and doors became ionized to keep the atmosphere stable. The fighter came to the opening at the end of the dock and slipped out into cold space. The fuel injectors immediately compensated for the lack of gravity and aft thrusters kicked in.
The fighter itself was an odd contraption. Sleek and thin like the human fighters of the twentieth century, the back had been changed to accompany the lack of a combustion engine. Instead a single central thruster had been installed. The wings swept close to the body with thrusters on either side and the head had a single window from which, if one looked closely enough, an orange suited body could be seen.
The command center was located on the top decks of the docking station. Several Starfleet officials were busy watching the ship as it passed several buoy markers. The lead, Commander Astor, was talking into a headset. "All right, take it down a notch, Jon. The engine's starting to heat."
"It can take it."
T'Pol raised an eyebrow as she stepped further into the room. The ship was on screen making a dangerous leap into warp two. Astor's eyes narrowed. "Archer, back it down now!"
"It can hold!"
"Lieutenant, that's a direct order!"
With a mumbled grunt of annoyance, the ship suddenly fell back to impulse. "She could have held it," the pilot said angrily.
"I'm not taking the chance to lose our only prototype, Jon. You'll be gentle with her until the injectors have been broken in."
"We've been breaking the injectors in for several weeks!"
"The standard test time of a warp-capable machine is five months," T'Pol said calmly. "Any stringent testing could burn the injectors and cause the reactor to overload."
Everyone turned around, surprised by the voice of the newcomer. Astor frowned briefly before a looking of recognition came to his eyes. "She's right, Jon. Back it down and return to the station now. That is an order." He pulled his headset off and looked at T'Pol. "Major T'Pol?"
She inclined her head slightly. "Commander Astor. I'm here to take over."
"He is all yours." He pushed the headset into her hands. "Good luck. You're gonna need it."
T'Pol raised an eyebrow thoughtfully, but asserted the headset back onto her ear and walked over to the control center. "Do you have a copy of all the sensor logs?" she asked one of the engineers.
"Of course." The woman pressed a button and the sensor logs began unloading all their data on screen. T'Pol's eyes narrowed slightly as she watched it patiently. All around her the humans were glancing at each other with questioning looks that clearly read, "What's she doing here?" No Vulcan had taken command of a human project before and that disturbed them all.
Suddenly the docking manager called in. "Ship is in bay, Commander Astor."
"Send the pilot to the command center," T'Pol ordered. To the nearest engineer, she said, "And give me a portable copy of those logs."
The double doors to the command center opened and the pilot walked in. Lieutenant Jonathan Archer looked, for lack of a better word, pissed. T'Pol arched an eyebrow at him as she considered this word in her head. Often times, though she would never admit it, human expressions seem adequate for describing certain situations.
Archer's hair was matted down with sweat from being inside the pressure suit. His blue Starfleet uniform was unzipped at the top and pulled down to wrap around his waist, revealing a second sweat-drenched tank top beneath. All in all, he looked rather dangerous for a biped with no natural defenses other than the ability to shout.
"Who the hell are you?" he demanded loudly.
"Major T'Pol," she said easily. "I will be assisting on this project with you."
"Assisting? I thought I heard Astor say you were taking over?" he accused.
"Given that I outrank you, I suppose you could look at it that way. I prefer to think that we shall be working together in a mutual desire to achieve the same goal."
Jon's lip curled slightly. "And what goal is that?" he asked coldly. "Or, more specifically, which goal? I know what mine is. Vulcan hasn't always been hand in hand with it, though."
"Vulcan is here to support and advise," she said diplomatically. "I have no desire to sabotage any project. As long as it serves a logical purpose, Vulcan will support it. I am here to asses that purpose."
"Yeah, right," he said roughly, pushing past her rudely to get to the control panels. T'Pol tensed slightly, but said nothing to the gesture. Humans were habitually rude – not Vulcans.
She walked over beside him and began pulling sensor logs up. The sensor readings from the first slight were on screen. She reached up and touched one of the spike power fluxes. It pulled a separate window up with the specifications of that flux. T'Pol read over the data carefully. All of it pointed to an overload, yet the compensators had been powerful enough to avert disaster. She found herself impressed with the engineering. Whomever had added this last bit of safety in had undoubtedly saved this run.
"-and if you watch your thrust here you can see where your velocity jumped into warp two," the analyst was telling Jon. "You keep this up and these ships will be flying at warp three in no time."
"If he keeps this up these ships will not exist." T'Pol raised her head and pointed. "See this? That power flux could have killed you."
Jon glanced at the data she was pointing towards and shrugged. "Compensators took care of it."
"Barely." She pulled another line up. "You were saved by a glitch. Should you have attempted this again I doubt you would be alive. You must be more careful with faster speeds."
Jon's eyes narrowed darkly. "The ship handled fine."
"This time." She looked at him. "The ship needs to be diagnosed. It should be capable of warp three, but it barely touched warp two point four."
"Diagnose it!" Jon snapped. "That will take a week! This is the only prototype we have!"
"Then we delay flying for a week." She faced him, her arms crossed over her chest calmly. "Unless you would personally like to test what the breaking point of the ship's injectors are?"
With a look that would do credit to a Klingon, Jon turned around furiously and walked out to go tell the engineers the new plan.
Admiral Maxwell Forrest was surprised that it took quite so long for Jon Archer to barge through his door furiously. The Vulcan had been sent over in the early morning and it was nearly four in the afternoon. Either Jon was getting more patient, which Forrest highly doubted, or T'Pol had treaded lightly as she had been advised to.
"Admiral, what is a Vulcan doing in charge of the Prometheus Project?" he demanded angrily.
Forrest leaned comfortably back in his chair, amused by the reddening around Jon's neck. "She's not technically in charge, Jon. She is merely there to observe and advise. Astor had other duties."
"So I'm in charge," Jon clarified.
"Yes and no." Forrest smiled a little. "Major T'Pol must approve of all analysis you two conduct together. Should their be a dispute between the two of you, I will have the final say."
"Admiral, she's a Vulcan!" Jon cried out incredulously. "She'll disagree with everything. They don't want humans to fly. They purposefully block everything."
Forrest did laugh now. "Jon, you're being unrealistic. I have the final say, not her."
Jon shook his head, pacing angrily in front of the desk. "This is a human project, Admiral. I don't need her. We don't need her."
"The Vulcans agreed to help with the Prometheus fighters only if one of their people could monitor and assist. I see no reason to compromise for knowledge that we very much need. Without the Vulcan injectors we'd still be at impulse."
"Or we might be better than they are," he argued. "We might be able to actually travel the stars without holding their hand. We're not children! They can't treat us like that and I refuse to accept it!"
"Accept it, lieutenant, or I will assign another pilot," Forrest said seriously. "One who is willing to follow orders."
Jon tensed slightly at the threat, but slowly backed down. "Aye, Admiral," he said softer.
Forrest sat up further, his face softening as he watched the young man before him. "Jon, you must learn to control yourself. I know you're upset. You have every right to be. But Sub-commander T'Pol is here to stay. Get along with her, make nice, and you'll have your Prometheus fighters. Don't and this project could very well go to the wayside."
Jon shook his head angrily, pacing around the room. He didn't like this one bit. "We've been depending on them for too long, Admiral. This is our chance to prove that we don't need them."
"And in proving that we could break an alliance we need," Forrest said. "I'm not willing to break a friendship that's over eighty years old."
Jon stopped moving. He had very little say in this. Forrest had made up his mind and Jon would go along with it or risk losing his position. That wasn't something he could afford to do. With a sigh, he nodded slowly. "All right...but I want you to promise me that you won't let this project disappear."
"I promise to do what I can," Forrest agreed. "How about that?"
Archer smiled a little. "It'll do, sir."
The engineer finally crawled out of the space between the aft engines. Grease was streaked across his face and clothes, but there was a jubilant look in his eye. "I found it!"
Jon frowned. After almost two weeks, he'd expected him to say what was already assumed – that there was nothing wrong with the ship. "What? What did you find?"
"There's a blockage in the fuel injectors. Some of the piping melted down to create too narrow of a gap. It's been slowing the flow and making the engines work too hard and overheat quickly."
"How come we haven't seen this before now?" Jon demanded angrily. The last thing he wanted to do was tell the Vulcan she was right.
The engineer shrugged. "You pushed it hard for the first time during the last flight. Before this the engines were able to handle it." He shook his head as he ducked back under to begin pulling the piping out. "You're lucky, lieutenant. Another push into warp like that and you'd be space dust."
This was not what Jon wanted to hear. "Get it working," he barked angrily, turning to leave the hanger. He stopped dead in his tracks when he saw the Vulcan standing in front of him patiently. "Was he able to solve the flux problem?" she asked calmly.
Gritting his teeth, Jon hissed out, "Yes."
"Then we should be able to resume flights next week."
"It's not going to take him a week to fix it!" he cried suddenly.
T'Pol nodded. "Agreed, but I want internal diagnostics run before we take the ship out again. You may use that time by practicing in the simulator if you like, lieutenant."
The shock of hearing her suggestions was driving Jon up the wall. "Thank you, Major, but I will be giving the orders."
T'Pol raised her chin slightly, but said nothing to contradict him. With severe reluctance, Jon glanced at the engineer who had pulled out to watch the show. "Fix it, and run diagnostics," he muttered. "I'll be in the simulator." Like a dog with his tail forced between his legs, he pushed past T'Pol and headed towards the doors.
She watched him leave, a sliver of amusement running through her. He was an extremely volatile and unstable man, but intriguing nonetheless. It was a very good thing that her superiors did not know the extent of his volatility. This project would not have lasted long otherwise. By rights, she should have reported his behavior, but she didn't. Part of her understood it, perhaps just a little too well.