~ Years Later ~
People who knew Commander Tucker from before
the 'incident' thought that afterward he had matured, that he was getting
older, that he was mellowing with age. He told very few people about Sub-Commander
T'Pol and even fewer about what she had given him. Some people insisted
that Tucker had become a more private person and a more dedicated engineer,
if that were possible. When the Enterprise returned to earth after its
long mission, Tucker married and settled down instead of returning to the
stars. But he did not give up his place in Star Fleet. He turned to research
and occasionally dabbled in diplomacy, earning the respect of the Vulcans,
Then Trip and his wife had a little blond daughter, who according to Commodore Tucker was the smartest and prettiest girl in the world. And after her birth, Trip began to change again. Some of his friends winked and smiled and suggested that he was having a mid-life crisis. Where was the clarity of thought and self-control that he had found on the Enterprise? It was years before anyone could answer that one.
"Amanda, is that you?" called Tucker, looking
up from his console as he heard the outer door whisk open.
"Yes." his daughter replied.
"Come in here then, would you?" he yelled, looking up at the ceiling and sighing.
She was seventeen, blond, and everyone told her how much she looked like her father. No one had ever said that she acted like him though. Or thought it either. Unless it was that Archer who had visited them a few years before. She had a keen intellect, which she applied diligently toward her studies, in preparation for entering the Academy.
"Didn't school let out quite some time ago, little lady?" he questioned.
"Yes." she replied.
"And you where were then?"
"The consulate, of course."
"By that, I take it you mean the Vulcan Consulate?"
"Do I detect a hint of ... suspicion?"
"Nothing of the kind."
"Where else can I learn about Vulcan culture?"
"Books, the computer, school, for starters."
"It isn't the same as experiencing it."
"Meditating with them and so forth."
"Does anyone there ever ask about me?"
"I used to visit that consulate a lot when I was younger. Ask around sometime and see if they remember a Commander Trip Tucker."
"Trip? Father, what an awful nick name!"
"Hey! It was a good one in its day."
"Back from the consulate already? It's still
daylight." Trip ribbed Amanda as she came into the house.
"Yes." she replied coolly. Amanda frowned and asked him, "Father, who was Sub-commander T'Pol and why do I have her katra?"
"So that's where it went. I'd always suspected." said Trip, grinning from ear to ear. "And I sometimes thought it hopped a ship back to Vulcan."
"But who was she, father?" pressed Amanda.
"You should know that just as well as I do."
"She was a Vulcan officer on the Enterprise."
"That she was."
"She was killed on an away mission."
"That's a fact."
"She loved you."
Trip frowned and looked at her sternly before telling her, "Don't let your mother hear you say that." Amanda raised an eyebrow. "Are you sure? I always thought I got under her skin in a bad kind of way. Then she got into my head."
"She never told you then?"
"She was a Vulcan, Amanda, or did you forget?"
"T'Pol knew that you loved her."
"Did she now?" asked Trip with a quizzical look.
"Of course, father, you are easy to read."
"How did you find all of this out? You've had her katra since you were born. Have you always known these things?"
"Of course not. I would have told you."
"One of my ... friends performed a kind of mind meld thing that allowed me to have more direct contact with T'Pol's katra. It was very enlightening."
"A mind meld? Dangerous stuff."
"The technique has improved since the old days."
"I might take offense to that! It's not like we're ancient relics." snorted Trip. "Now tell me about this friend of yours. Male or female?" he asked.
"Dad!" she groaned, rolling her eyes.
"I'm supposed to ask."
"His name is Sarek, and he is a diplomatic attaché. He wants me to see Vulcan someday."