by J. B. Tilton

Rating: G

Disclaimer: "Star Trek", "Enterprise", and all related characters and
events are the sole property of Paramount Pictures, Inc., except for
those specifically created by me for this story. This is fan fiction
and no infringement of copyright is intended.

* * *

The Enterprise encounters a human deep space science vessel.
Among the crew of this ship is someone whom Captain Archer
knows quite well. And the last person any of the crew thought they
would ever meet.

* * *

Archer and Trip were working out in the weight room of the
Enterprise. Regular exercise aboard a star ship was vitally
important to the crew. Even with a doctor on board, it was
necessary that they maintain as good a physical condition as
possible. They couldn't just hop on a transport and pop over to the
nearest medical facility if something was wrong.

The two often worked out together. They made a good team.
They had known each other for many years and were both very
good at encouraging each other to push just a little harder. To
challenge themselves just a bit more so that they didn't become
complacent in their exercise.

"So," said Trip, wiping his forehead with a towel, "I see
command hasn't made you any weaker. That's one of the hardest
workouts we've had in a long time."

"It helps me get my mind of things for a while," said Archer
between gasps for air. "Besides, I can't let the younger crew
members think I'm getting flabby. I still need them to respect me if
I'm to command efficiently."

"I don't think there's any danger of loosing that," said Trip. "This
crew respects you a great deal. You've proven you can handle
yourself. They have every confidence in you."

"And I in them," said Archer. "I couldn't ask for a better crew.
They've performed beyond my wildest expectations."

"That they have," said Trip. "I remember your concerns before
we launched. You were afraid we'd loose half the crew to space
sickness or something."

"Can you blame me?" asked Archer. "Half of them are fresh out
of the Academy. You never can tell how you're going to react until
you get out here."

"I know," said Trip. "I think they've handled themselves very

"Mayweather to Captain Archer," came Travis' voice over the

Archer walked over and activated the intercom on the wall.

"Archer here," he said. "What is it, Ensign?"

"Sir," responded Travis, "we have a ship on long range sensors.
It appears to be a modified freighter, sir. Definitely from Earth.
Traveling at warp one point nine."

"Any idea who or what it is?" asked Archer.

"Not yet, sir," said Travis. "Sub-Commander T'Pol says it will be
another ten minutes before sensors can give us any clear readings
on it."

"Very well, Travis," said Archer. "Alter course to intercept. As
long as we're out here, might as well stop by and say hello."

"Understood, sir," said Travis.

"Modified freighter?" questioned Trip. "That could be almost
anything. We're pretty far out, sir. What do you make of it?"

"Most likely," said Archer, "a science ship. Probably a deep
space exploration vessel. Their designed to remain out for years.
There are no shipping lanes this far out."

"Sounds like a fair assessment," said Trip. "Well, shall we get
dressed and see who our new friends are?"

Archer just smiled as he opened the tiny locker holding his

"We've identified the vessel, Captain," said T'Pol as Archer and
Trip entered the bridge. "It is a modified class four freighter. It is
apparently a deep space exploration vehicle. The registry comes
back as the ESV Asimov."

"An Earth science vessel," said Trip. "Just like you said, sir."

"Yes," said Archer. "I know the name of that ship. But I can't
quite remember where from. Have you contacted them yet?"

"No, sir," said T'Pol. "I felt it more appropriate if you contacted

"Okay," said Archer. "Do they know we're here?"

"I would assume so," said T'Pol. "We are well within range of
their sensors. I cannot explain why they have not contacted us

"Let's find out," said Archer. "Hoshi, for once I don't think the
universal translator is going to be necessary. Open hailing

"Frequencies open, sir," responded Hoshi.

"This is Captain Jonathon Archer," said Archer, "of the Earth
star ship, Enterprise to the unidentified Earth science vessel.
Please respond."

Within seconds the view screen on the bridge changed. Instead
of showing the ship in space, a human male wearing the uniform of
a member of the Science Academy could be seen.

"Captain," said the man with a smile, "I'm Captain Stanley
Schmidt, in command of the ESV Asimov. It's nice to see a friendly
face. We've been out here for nine years. I must say, we didn't
expect to see a human ship so far out."

"This is no ordinary ship," said Archer. "If you've been out here
for nine years, you may not be aware of it. We have warp five

"Warp five?" questioned Schmidt. "That's astounding. I knew
they were working on one, but I had no idea they had completed it
already. Excuse me for asking, but did you say your name was

"Yes, Captain," said Archer. "Jonathon Archer. My father was
Henry Archer."

"I am aware of who you father was," said Schmidt. "He was a
brilliant man. We were all sorry when he passed away."

"Thank you, Captain," said Archer. "Since we're so near each
other, perhaps you'd like to see the ship. She really is quite

"Thank you, Captain," said Schmidt, "I'd like that. And I have
someone here who would like to speak with you."

Suddenly a woman stepped into view. She was apparently
about Archers' age, with long blonde hair. She had it tied back
behind her head. She smiled as the bridge crew looked at her.

"Well, well, well," she said. "Hello, Jonathon. It's been a long
time, I must say. I never expected to see you out here, though you
always did claim you'd make it one day."

"Marjorie," was all that Archer said.

"Marjorie?" asked the woman. "Is that all you have to say? No
'hello' or 'how are you' or 'good to see you'? Just Marjorie. Is
that all you have to say to your wife?"

Archer didn't say another word. He just sat looking at the view
screen while his entire bridge crew sat looking at him in shock.

* * *

"Your wife, sir?" questioned T'Pol, after arrangements had been
made for a shuttle to dock with the Enterprise. "I was unaware that
you were married."

"I'm not," said Archer, looking around the bridge at his crew.
"Well, I guess legally I still am. It was a very long time ago. I was
fresh out of the Academy. We both knew it was a mistake, so we
went our separate ways. I just never got around to the formality of
a divorce, that's all. Besides, it's not something I care to broadcast.
I'm sure you can understand that concept, Sub-Commander."

T'Pol didn't say a word. She just cocked one eyebrow, as was
her habit, instead of responding. It was something she understood
quite well.

"Trip, would you tell the chef there will be one more for dinner
this evening," said Archer. "And have him prepare some shrimp
cocktail. That was always her favorite."

"Aye, sir," said Trip. "Would you like to have dinner with her
alone, Cap'n?"

"God, no," said Archer. "That woman can be almost as
infuriating as a Vulcan. No offense intended, T'Pol."

"I am incapable of that response," said T'Pol.

"Captain," said Travis, "if Captain Schmidt doesn't mind, would it
be okay if I went over and took a look at his ship? My uncle runs a
class four freighter and I'd be interested in seeing what types of
modifications they make to make it a science vessel."

"I'm sure that will be okay, Travis," said Archer.

"Thank you, sir," said Travis.

"Well," said Archer, "I suppose I don't have much choice but to
go meet the shuttle. God, I'm going to hate this."

"Think of it this way, sir," said Trip as he and Archer entered the
turbolift, "maybe she's mellowed over the years."

"Not a chance," said Archer. "If anything, I'll bet she's more
frustrating than ever. Do me a favor, Trip."

"Sure," said Trip, "anything."

"Go down to the weapons locker," said Archer. "Get one of the
phase pistols and set it for kill. Then come put me out of my misery
before that shuttle gets here."

Trip just smiled as the turbolift took them to the shuttle bay.

"Captain Archer," said Captain Schmidt as he and his party
stepped off the shuttle, "it's a pleasure to meet you. You're the first
humans we've seen in nearly two years."

"Captain Schmidt," said Archer. "We're pleased to have you
aboard. This is Lieutenant Commander Tucker, my chief engineer.
I have a favor to ask. My pilot, Travis Mayweather, would like to
visit your ship. He's a boomer and he'd just like a chance to look
around a bit."

"Certainly, certainly," said Schmidt. "I'm afraid our ship won't
compare with the Enterprise, though. Warp five capabilities? I'd
be very interested in hearing all about it."

"Perhaps you could join Mr. Tucker and myself for dinner," said
Archer. "I'm sure he'll be glad to explain anything you'd like to

"Thank you," said Schmidt. "I'd like that. Now, if I may
introduce Mr. Kyle Weathers, my first officer. This is Perrin Tarrow,
our shuttle pilot. And this is . . . ."

"No need to introduce me, Stan," said Archers' wife. "The
captain and I go way back."

"Hello, Marjorie," said Archer stiffly. "You're . . . looking well."

"Captain now?" said the woman. "You always did say you'd
command a star ship one day. And the first warp five capable ship
at that. Your father would be proud of you."

"I think he would," said Archer. "How long will you be staying?"

"Don't you mean, 'when am I leaving'?" asked Marjorie. "Let's
not pretend we're still good friends, Jonathon. I know you're not
very comfortable with me here."

"That was a long time ago," said Jonathon. "Besides, I really
meant it. You are looking well."

"Thank you," said Marjorie. "It's hard to believe you're all the
way out here. It took us nearly three years to get to this position.
And you made it in a fraction of the time. That's remarkable."

"It sure is," said Trip, trying to take some of the pressure off his
old friend. "Our warp engines are really something. Would you like
a tour of the engine room."

"I'm sure Stan would," said Marjorie. "I never had much interest
in such things. I'm an exo-biologist. I'm more interested in alien
life forms and such. I'm afraid I don't' have much of an aptitude for

"I see," said Trip.

"Well," said Archer, "Trip, why don't you show the captain and
his first officer around the engine room. Mr. Tarrow, anything in
particular you'd care to see?"

"If it's okay with Captain Schmidt," said the young man, "I'll just
show Mr. Mayweather to the Asimov. We can talk about piloting
ships while I show him around."

"Fine with me," said Schmidt.

"Okay," said Archer. "I'll have Travis meet you here. Marjorie,
would you care to see the bridge?"

"Love to," said Marjorie, putting her hand on his elbow as if they
were old friends.

Nervously, Archer took her to the turbolift that would get them to
the bridge.

"You haven't written," said Marjorie in the turbolift.

"You're the one who left, remember?" asked Archer. "It wasn't
my decision."

"You aren't still bitter, are you?" asked Marjorie. "I had to take
that assignment, you know that. It was my job."

"Sure," said Archer. "Which was always more important than
us. There would have been other expeditions. You always had to
put your job before everything else."

"And you didn't?" asked Marjorie. "What about those extra
courses you took after you graduated Star Fleet? They weren't
necessary to your career. But you insisted on taking them. Saying
that you wanted to know as much as possible so that you could get
your command one day."

"Let's not fight," said Archer. "That's ancient history. I think we
both know it was a mistake to ever get married. Neither of us was
willing to put their career on hold so that we could make our
marriage work. It's water under the bridge."

"Apparently," said Marjorie, "so is your distaste of Vulcans. A
Vulcan science officer? This from the man who used to called the
Vulcan ambassador Mr. Pointy Ears?"

"Things change," said Archer. "People change. T'Pol is a very
good science officer. Even if she is a Vulcan. Besides, out here
we need all the friends we can get."

The turbolift doors opened onto the bridge and the two stepped
out. Everyone was busy at their station as Archer looked around,
pride beaming from his face. Not even the presence of his
estranged wife could damper his pride in this ship or her crew.

"Mr. Mayweather," said Archer, "Captain Schmidt has
consented to let you look around the Asimov. His shuttle pilot is in
the shuttle bay waiting for you now."

"Thank you, sir," said Travis. "Ma'am, nice to meet you."

"Ma'am?" questioned Marjorie, smiling. "Am I getting that old?"

"Just a sign of respect, ma'am," said Travis. "Well, I should get
going. I'll shouldn't be long, Captain."

"Take whatever time you need, Travis," said Archer.

Archer left the bridge as another crewman took his place at the
helm. Everyone else went back to their stations, glancing up
nervously from time to time.

"This is the tactical station," said Archer. "Lieutenant Malcolm
Reed is our tactical officer. And one of the best, if I may add."

"You may, sir," said Reed, smiling. "Mrs. Archer, it's a pleasure
to meet you."

"Please," said Marjorie, "I go by Marjorie. Or Doctor Walters, if
you must. I stopped using Archer nearly twenty years ago."

"Very well, Marjorie," said Malcolm.

"This is the communications station," said Archer. "Ensign
Hoshi Sato is the comm officer. She knows more languages than
anyone I've ever met."

"Nice to meet you," said Hoshi. "I just have a knack for picking
up languages."

"John always did surround himself with the best," said Marjorie,
smiling. "If you're on his bridge, I have no doubt you're the best at
what you do. If we had you on our ship, maybe it wouldn't have
been more than eight months since we had contact with Earth."

"You're still using one of the old style subspace radios?" asked
Hoshi. "I didn't know those were still in use."

"One of a dying breed," said Marjorie.

"Here is our science station," said Archer. "Sub-Command
T'Pol, as you know, is our science officer."

"Doctor Walters," said T'Pol dispassionately. "The captain has
never mentioned being married."

"Well," said Marjorie, "it's not something he'd want to publicize.
I'm afraid we didn't leave on very good terms."

"I see," said T'Pol. "Welcome to the Enterprise."

"Thank you," said Marjorie smiling.

"That's about it," said Archer, "except for the helm, which I know
you aren't interested in. Let's go to my ready room so we can catch
up on old times."

"Okay," said Marjorie. "Nice meeting you all. Perhaps we'll get
a chance to chat later."

Archer and his wife left the bridge and went to his ready room.
The room suddenly felt extremely small and cramped to Archer.
More so than usual. No doubt, it was because of the company.
But she would be gone soon and he could get back to not
remembering her.

* * *

Travis was having a ball on the freighter. The crew was very
friendly and more than eager to show him around the ship.
Although it had been several years since he had been on board a
class four freighter, it still looked nearly exactly as he remembered
it. Except for the modifications needed to convert the ship to a
science vessel.

"Most of us have been on her since she was refit," explained
Perrin. "As a boomer, you know these crews are more like families
than crewmates."

"I know," said Travis. "In fact, many of them are families. A lot
of the cargo vessels are owned and run by families. I grew up on a
ship very similar to this one."

"So did I," said Perrin. "It's one of the reasons I signed aboard.
I couldn't see spending four years in classes at Star Fleet
Academy. This way, I got the chance to get out into space without
all that. My father was one of the best pilots around and he taught
me everything he knows."

"What's your maximum speed?" asked Travis.

"Normal cruising speed is warp one point nine," said Perrin.
"We can easily reach warp two point three without breaking a
sweat. And if we're in a pinch, we can push her to warp two point
seven for as much as fifteen minutes."

"Incredible," said Travis. "What about fuel? These things are
supposed to need refueling about every two to three years."

"We've figured out a way to mine our own," said Perrin. "It's all
hush hush. Stan, that is, Captain Schmidt plans to introduce the
technique to the science council when we get back. He's very
eager about it and I must admit, the rest of us are, too."

"Really?" asked Travis. "That's amazing. Any problems with
the nacelles?"

"Not a one," said Perrin. "They've worked beautifully since we
launched. It's a good thing, too. If we had any trouble with them,
we wouldn't have been able to come this far. Captain Schmidt
says we'll probably stay out another two or three years, then return
to Earth. Just imagine the reception we get when we return with all
the information we've collected."

"I can imagine," said Travis. "Boy, I actually envy you in a way.
I kind of miss being aboard the freighter I grew up on. But serving
on the Enterprise has been a real experience."

"I should imagine so," said Perrin. "Being able to go warp five. I
can't even imagine that kind of speed. Pretty soon, we'll be able to
go even faster, I'm sure. Maybe even warp seven. Now, that will
be really something."

Perrin continued to show Travis around the ship and the
modifications they had made to her. Travis took it all in carefully
noting everything. They were passing through one of the cargo
bays when Travis pushed off from the hatch and nearly broke his
neck when he fell crashing to the floor.

"You okay?" asked Perrin, helping him to his feet.

"Uh, yeah," said Travis, apparently slightly stunned. "I, uh, just
lost my grip for a minute. Guess I've gotten rusty at passing
through these hatchways."

"You gotta take it more careful," said Perrin. "The only thing
that will break your fall here is a metal deck. Not a very soft

"Yeah, I know what you mean," said Travis. "Well, I've really
enjoyed the tour. Maybe we'll get a chance to spend some more
time together before you have to leave."

"That would be nice," said Perrin. "I'd still like to learn more
about what's been going on on Earth since we left."

"I'll talk to Captain Archer and see what I can arrange," said
Travis, smiling. "I think I'd better get back to the Enterprise now."

"Okay," said Perrin. "Maybe I could get a tour of her. I'd sure
like to see what a warp five engine looks like."

"I'll ask Commander Tucker," said Travis. "I'm sure he'll be glad
to have someone show you around."

The shuttle returned to the Enterprise just as Trip had finished
giving the Asimovs' first officer a tour of the engine room. Kyle
Weathers was not only the first officer, he was also an engineer, so
he and Trip had a great deal in common. They were standing in
the shuttle bay, with Captain Schmidt, as Travis and Perrin exited
the shuttle.

"Well, Travis," said Trip, "enjoy your little visit to the Asimov?"

"Yes, sir," said Travis. "It was very informative. Kind of felt like
old times. Perrin was wondering if you might have someone show
him around the engine room."

"Well, I can't do it right now," said Trip. "But Ensign Carlisle
should be free. I'm sure she'd be glad to show you around."

"Think I'll tag along," said Weathers. "I'd like another look at
those injector manifolds you showed me. We might be able to
adapt them to our engines. Maybe get just a little more speed out
of the Asimov."

"I wouldn't mind a second look myself," said Schmidt. "There's
quite a lot to take in at first glance."

"Be my guest, Kyle and Stan," said Trip. "I'll have the specs
downloaded for you so you can take them back and look them

"Thanks," said Weathers.

Trip called Ensign Carlisle over and asked her to show the two
men from the Asimov around the engine room. Carlisle smiled and
said she'd be happy to show them whatever they wanted. Trip
turned and started to his office in engineering.

"Commander," said Travis, "can I speak to you for a moment,

"Can it wait a bit?" asked Trip. "I got a report I need to finish up.
It shouldn't take long."

"It's important, sir," said Travis, glancing nervously at the two
Asimov officers who were walking toward the engine bay.
"Something isn't right here, sir. I think it's possible these people
aren't who they claim to be."

Trip turned and looked at Travis. The helmsman was young
and inexperienced. But he was also very level headed. Even if his
suspicions were unfounded, Trip decided he should at least hear
Travis out.

"Come into my office and tell me what you suspect," said Trip

* * *

Archer spent nearly three hours in his ready room with his wife
discussing "old times". He remembered how they had first met. At
a mixer just after he had graduated from Star Fleet Academy.
Marjorie had just graduated from the Earth Science University,
which was only about three blocks from the Academy. It was a
tradition that the two graduating classes held a joint celebration
party since both graduations were more often than not on the same

She had been beautiful. Just as beautiful as she was now.
They were instantly attracted to each other and had dated for
several months before getting married. But that was a life time
ago. Their chosen paths just didn't mesh. So they had parted, on
less than amicable terms.

Archer had always regretted that. Marjorie wasn't a bad person.
Just very driven as he himself was. And, like him, her career came
first. He had often thought about what might have been. Then he
would dismiss it almost immediately. For all her charms, she could
still be the most exasperating woman he had ever met.

"Well," said Marjorie finally, "I've really enjoyed this time. It's
been good to see you again, John."

"I must admit," said John, "it's not what I had expected.
Remember the fights we used to have? Some of them were pretty
. . . intense."

"Oh, I remember," said Marjorie. "As I recall, most of them had
to do with you wanting me to leave my career and warp to God
knows where in your star ships."

"It wasn't like that," said Archer. "I only suggested you might
want to attend the Academy. That way we might be able to be
posted on the same ship together."

"With you as the captain and me as one of your crew?" asked
Marjorie. "That wouldn't have worked. I was never cut out for all
the rules and regulations, you know that."

"I suppose I do," said Archer. "Still, it might have been nice."

"Water under the bridge," said Marjorie.

"Will you be staying for dinner?" asked Archer. "I've had the
chef prepare your favorite."

"Shrimp cocktail?" questioned Marjorie. "I wish I could. It's
been a long time since I've had real shrimp cocktail. The
replication system just doesn't do it justice."

I know," said Archer.

"But I don't think we can," she said. "Stan wants to get back on
course as soon as possible. Still, maybe we'll meet up again. As
fast as this ship is, you should be able to meet up with us whenever
you want."

"Maybe," said Archer apprehensively.

Their meeting today had been more than cordial. Which for the
two of them, was a rarity. He wasn't anxious to push that. Just
then, the chime to Archers' ready room sounded.

Come in," he said.

The door opened and Trip stood outside.

"What is it, Trip?" asked Archer.

"Cap'n," said Trip, glancing at Marjorie, "I hate to bother you sir.
But there's something I need to discuss with you. It's rather

"Okay," said Archer. "Marjorie, if you'll wait on the bridge, I'll be
with you in a moment."

"No problem," said Marjorie. "I have to wait for Stan and the
others anyway. Nice to see you again, Commander."

"Ma'am," said Trip as Archers' wife left the ready room

After she had left, Trip entered and the door closed behind him.

"Sir," said Trip, "how well do you know her?"

"We were married, Trip," said Archer perplexed. "What kind of
a question is that?"

"I know it sounds kind of odd," said Trip. "But Travis has
discovered a couple of things that just don't add up. I did a scan of
that science vessel and what I found is kinda screwy, sir. Are you
sure that's really your wife? I mean, you never mentioned ever
being married to me in all the years we've known each other. Are
you sure that's the same woman?"

"What's this about, Trip?" asked Archer, now growing
concerned. "Of course she's the same woman. She knew things
only Marjorie would have known. As for never having told you, it
didn't seem important. We had gone our separate ways and it
didn't seem to matter any more."

"Cap'n," said Trip, "I looked up the specs for the Asimov in our
data base. What I found doesn't jive with the sensor readings I
took. Sir, that ship couldn't be the ESV Asimov."

"That's serious," said Archer. "If it's not the Asimov, what ship is

"According to the energy signature," said Trip, "it's the
Enterprise. The two energy signatures are identical. So are the
warp signatures."

"That's impossible," said Archer. "No two ships have the exact
same energy or warp signature. And the Asimov is capable of
reaching about warp three at best. Even if their energy signatures
are similar, the warp signatures would be totally different."

"I know sir," said Trip. "I even had T'Pol run a scan. She got
the same results. According to our results, the Asimov and the
Enterprise are virtually identical. The odds of that happening are
non-existent. Sir, I don't know what's going on here, but that ship
couldn't possibly be the Asimov."

"Sit down," said Archer. "Tell me everything you've found out."

Trip sat down and calmly told the captain every clue they had
discovered. Beginning with Travis' suspicions about what he had
learned while on board the Asimov.

* * *

Archer and Trip came out of the ready room nearly ten minutes
later. As they did, two armed security men stepped off the turbolift
and took up positions near the turbolift. Captain Schmidt, Mr. Kyle
Weathers, Perrin Tarrow, and Archers' wife were on the bridge
talking with the bridge crew.

"Captain Archer," said Schmidt smiling as Archer entered the
bridge, "again, let me thank you for such an enjoyable visit. It's
been very informative. I hope we have a chance to meet again one

"Perhaps," said Archer suspiciously. "I do have one last
question before you leave."

"Certainly," said Schmidt.

"Who are you really?" asked Archer.

"I don't understand," said Schmidt.

"John," said Marjorie, "if this is some of your twisted sense of
humor, it's not funny."

"It's not," said Archer. "Travis, will you please tell our guests
what you discovered while touring their ship."

"Perrin told me you had found a way to process your own fuel,"
said Travis.

"Yes," said Schmidt. "It's been quite handy allowing us to stay
out for such a long time."

"That's not very likely," said Travis. "The fuel used by a class
four freighter, modified or not, has to be processed at a planet side
mining facility. Those ships use the old style warp engines. The
base for the fuel they use is an unstable compound called
dextronium. If it's not prepared properly, it has the potential of
becoming an extremely powerful, and unstable, explosive. I don't
think it would be possible to process it aboard a ship without an
unwarranted risk to that ships' crew."

"As we explained," said Schmidt. "We've discovered a way to
process it without the danger. Really, Ensign, I think your
imagination has gotten the better of you."

"There's more," said Archer. "Travis, continue please."

"Yes, sir," said Travis. "The warp nacelles on the class four
freighter have a design flaw in them. It wasn't discovered until they
had been in use for several years. The flaw weakens the support
struts that attach the nacelles to the body of the ship. Over time,
the nacelles have a habit of simply breaking off.

"To prevent this, the nacelles have to be reinforced. This would
require you to return to a space dock facility. It can't be done in
space. The Asimov has no reinforcement. I don't think it would be
possible to keep your ship in flight as long as you've claimed
without those reinforcements."

"We've just been lucky," said Schmidt. "Now that you've
brought it to my attention, we'll return to Earth immediately for a

"Will you also refit a 'sweet spot' in your ship?" asked Travis.

"A what?" asked Marjorie.

"Travis pointed it out to me when I first came aboard the
Enterprise," said Trip. "Each ship has what the boomers call a
'sweet spot'. Where the gravity in a ship is near zero g. The first
time I saw Travis, he was sitting on the ceiling. It was the
Enterprises' 'sweet spot'."

"Your ship doesn't have one," said Travis. "According to the
laws of physics, that's impossible. Because of the design of the
warp engines, the gravity plating, and the ship designs, the 'sweet
spot' is always present. There's no way to prevent it."

"This is ridiculous," said Marjorie.

"Are you in on it, too?" asked Archer. "I've been asking myself
who would want to duplicate an Earth ship so closely. To gain
access to the Enterprise. While there are a lot of races that would
want to get access to our secrets, none of them have the
necessary technology to so perfectly duplicate a ship of ours.
There would have to be some inconsistencies."

"There is also the matter of the energy and warp signatures,"
interjected T'Pol. "Yours are identical to those of the Enterprise.
As Ensign Mayweather has suggested, these are impossible as
well. No two ships have exactly the same signatures."

"John," said Marjorie angrily, "this is just like you. You get some
crazy notion in your head and just make the facts fit your scenario."

"Really?" asked Archer. "Then explain this. You told me in the
turbolift that you were surprised that T'Pol was on the Enterprise.
You told Hoshi that you hadn't had contact with Earth for over eight
months. And Captain Schmidt told us in our initial contact that you
hadn't seen another human in over two years. Considering all that,
how do you explain knowing about T'Pol being on the Enterprise?"

"She wasn't originally a part of the crew. Neither was Dr. Phlox.
T'Pol only agreed to remain on the Enterprise after we delivered
the Klingon to his home world of Chronos. That was less than six
months ago. How could you possibly have known she was aboard
before anyone here told you about it?"

Marjorie just smiled. She looked at Captain Schmidt then at the
others. Suddenly, Schmidt, Weathers, and Tarrow simply vanished
from the bridge.

"Captain," said Malcolm, "the science vessel is gone, sir. It
vanished just like those men did."

"They were never really there," said Marjorie. "You are an
interesting species, Captain Archer. We have never encountered
such as you. I was compelled to learn about you."

"We?" asked Archer. "Who is we?"

"My race," said Marjorie. "You have nothing to fear from us,
Captain. We are no threat to you or any life forms like you. We
are called the Tolu. We exist in a place that borders that which you
call space and subspace. A sort of boundary area which separates
the two."

"So you ain't the Cap'ns' wife?" asked Trip.

"No," said Marjorie. "I felt it would be easier if I implanted the
memories in your captains' mind of someone he knew well. It
would allow me to gain access to your ship and learn about you. I
regret the deception. But you are such an interesting species. So
full of life and questions. I became obsessed with learning about

"So you put those memories in my mind," said Archer. "But they
were so real, so vivid. I actually remembered everything."

"As it was meant to be," said Marjorie. "I was able to search
your mind and find someone from your past. A person you had
grown close to. I simply altered some of those memories. It is
quite easy, actually. You're minds are so simple and yet so
complex at the same time.

"However, I could not foresee your helmsman discovering the
flaws in the ship I created. I have never seen ships of this type. I
only assumed that they would all be very similar. The structural
defects in the nacelles and the differences in the energy and warp
signatures were not something I was aware of. I was to have made
my observations and moved on, with you none the wiser for my
being here."

"That could be considered an act of aggression," said Archer.
"Putting memories in my mind."

"I can remove them easily," said Marjorie. She waved her hand
and Archer closed his eyes for a moment. "I would have done so
when I left, anyway. They were only implanted so that I might learn
about you. Once I had left, there would have been no need for

"They're gone," said Archer. "Everything that was there is gone.
How can you so easily manipulate the human mind?"

"As I said," replied Marjorie, "your minds are very simple in
many ways. I meant no harm, Captain. As I said, you have no
reason to fear us. Inferior life forms such as yourselves are a
curiosity to us, no more. We simply seek to learn what we can
about you, then move on."

"You are explorers, then," said T'Pol.

"In a manner of speaking," said Marjorie. "You have been very
informative, Captain. You and your entire crew. I will have much to
tell my people when I return to them. They shall be eager to learn
of the potential which you possess."

"Potential?" asked Archer.

"For advancement," said Marjorie. "One day you will reach a
level of development where you may contact us. No more than a
few thousand years I should imagine. Barely the blink of an eye in
the cosmic time scheme. Until then, I wish you well on your

Marjorie didn't say another word. She simply changed into a
glowing ball of light and vanished from the bridge. T'Pol cocked an
eyebrow as she looked over at Archer.

"Well," said Archer, straightening his uniform, "this should make
an interesting report to Star Fleet."

"Indeed," said T'Pol. "I should be interested in hearing your
explanation of a wife you never had."

Archer simply shot his science officer an annoyed glance, then
went to his ready room to prepare his report to Star Fleet. As he
did, his mind wandered back to the real Marjorie Walters. His
memories of meeting her had been real enough. The mixer after
graduation. How they had both seemed to have so much in

But they had both known it would never work out. Both were too
bent on pursuing their careers. He had often wondered what would
have happened had they taken that chance.

Now, it seemed, he might actually know one possible outcome
from that. An outcome he would have regretted. As he began his
report to Star Fleet, he made a mental note to himself. A mental
note to see if he could locate the real Marjorie and see what she
had been up to these past years since they had last seen each

The End

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