"I'm sorry I can't be here to watch you give your speech, Jonathan," Arianne said, as she moved around her apartment, occasionally taking personal items from shelves and placing them in a duffel bag.
As he lingered on the couch, Jonathan smiled, "It's all right," he replied. "It's good that you were able to be at my side for Trip's funeral, though. He meant a lot to me and I was glad to have the support."
"Trip meant a lot to both of us, Jonathan," Arianne said, halting her packing and embracing him for all he was worth. "He would have been proud of what you are going to do tomorrow."
Jonathan nodded and felt comforted by her arms around him, "I hope you won't be gone for very long," he gently admitted, as he caressed her hands. "El Auria seems like it's far away from Earth."
"The Mandarin will be back as soon as we complete our work on El Auria," Arianne stated, as she kissed his hands and resumed her packing. "When I return, we'll work on planning our wedding."
Smiling, Jonathan watched her continue to clean her apartment, "I'll miss you," he finally said, turning to leave. "Just remember that I'll be thinking of you and anxiously awaiting your return, Imzadi."
As Jonathan quietly left the apartment, Arianne finished packing and quickly sealed her duffle bag.
"Forever and always, Imzadi," Arianne softly whispered, staring at the door.
"Science Officer, are you detecting any anomalies?" Captain Marattis asked, as Arianne sat at her station.
In the middle of space, closer to El Auria than Earth, the USS Mandarin cruised along at impulse speed, as they were in no hurry and their main objective was just to get the mission done safely, not quickly.
Their mission was to take samples from the surface of El Auria and determine if there was anything on the planet that could be used to possibly help the El Aurians maintain their peaceful quality of life.
Since they had made first contact with the planet two years prior, Starfleet had done everything they could to help the El Aurians thrive, no doubt hoping that some would become Starfleet material one day.
Normally, that would have been assigned to a joint Science/Medical team but, seeing as Starfleet was short on those right now, the Mandarin had been quickly staffed with a crew and dispatched instead.
Shaking her head, Arianne worked some controls on the console, "No anomalies, sir," she replied, pressing some buttons to scan the area. "Wait, sir," she said, suddenly spotting an odd reading. "I'm picking up a spatial rift that seems to be expanding rapidly…"
"Onscreen!" Captain Marattis shouted, suddenly concerned. "We must see what we're dealing with!"
The entire Bridge crew looked on in horror as a massive spatial rift appeared on the screen, producing sporadic electrical charges. Unfortunately, the ship was no match for the rift and was being pulled in.
"HELM, GET US OUT OF HERE BEFORE WE'RE DESTROYED!" Captain Marattis shouted.
Before the Helmsman could reply, the entire Bridge flooded with light as one of the electrical charges struck the Bridge. Almost immediately, the Bridge was engulfed in a massive explosion.
I will love you forever, my Imzadi. Arianne quietly thought as everything went black.
"This one has been in stasis since we found the decimated vessel," a voice said, as he hovered over a stasis pod. "Her vitals are all over the place and she sustained serious injury enough that she will die soon."
Arianne opened her eyes and immediately, finding herself in a stasis pod, she shakily reached up and knocked on the glass with a broken hand, fully feeling the pain with every breath she took.
Finding herself unable to speak because of a tube down her throat, Arianne tried to talk with her eyes.
Shocked at seeing the woman awake, an El Aurian doctor opened the pod and stared down at her, "It is good that you are conscious, but you are severely injured." he explained. "You were the lone survivor from the Mandarin and you were put in stasis to save your life. However, stasis is only prolonging it."
"Doctor, tell her of T'Pol's de-aging experiment," a voice shouted from nearby. "Maybe she will consent!"
Sighing, the doctor nodded, "There is a way to save your life, however," he explained. "We have a process that will de-age you to the point of infancy, replace your blood type, and regenerate your organs to where they are not damaged at all. It is a risky procedure, but it may be the only way. Do you agree to do this?"
Knowing that being de-aged was better than death, even though she may never see Jonathan again, Arianne managed a weak nod. Unfortunately, all of her energy was now gone and she immediately closed her eyes.
Closing the pod, the doctor connected a tube to a hole on the side of it. He then nodded to a scientist that lingered at a nearby console. Smiling, the scientist began to work the controls at a rapid pace.
As electro-magnetic light filled the pod, the door slid open and an El-Aurian government official named Rondau entered the room, along with his wife, Riaa. Their eyes immediately focused on the stasis pod.
"We came as soon as we heard of the Mandarin's destruction and of the lone survivor," Rondau spoke, lingering at the science console. "I assume you are testing the experiment on her?"
Nodding, the scientist fiddled with the controls, "She consented to it," he explained. "It was either allow the experiment or die a death from her severe injuries. "It was not a hard choice for her to make."
"By the way, Rondau, her name is Arianne," the doctor suddenly spoke up, as he reviewed the Mandarin's crew records from another console. "Do well to remember that and always refer to her by that name."
Rondau nodded, as not many would be given such a sacred, yet highly secret honor, "We will raise her as if she were our biological daughter," he replied. "Is the procedure complete yet?"
Without speaking, the scientist turned off the machine and the electro-magnetic light faded from the pod.
Anxious to see their new "child," Riaa had hurried over to the pod and quickly opened it.
"Oh, hello there, Arianne," Riaa cooed, as she lifted a small, blue-eyed, blonde-haired baby from the pod and quickly dressed her in an El-Aurian dress and hat. "Our beautiful daughter, Rondau."
"Remember, she will be in baby form for a long while and it will take time for her to evolve," the doctor reminded them, as they prepared to leave the chamber. "Also, nobody is to ever know of this experiment."
Rondau and Riaa nodded. Nobody else knew and ever would know of this illegal experiment that, despite having the potential to save lives, was punishable either by death or a twenty year sentence in prison.
Maybe someday things would change and the experiment would be widely accepted by all species.
For now, however, it had just been used to save the life of an officer with limitless promise and potential.