Title: A Hawk Descends
Summary: It began as a mission to rescue their science officer, but it became much more.
Rating: PG-13 (Some Violence, Mild Innuendo)
Genre: General/ Drama
Author's notes: I'll save this until the end.
Warning: dialog intensive.
A Hawk Descends
An Officer Missing
It was quiet on the bridge of the Enterprise that morning when Commander Tucker decided to check in, following a quick visit to engineering. Hoshi was working quietly at her station. Malcolm appeared to be reviewing some information on a data pad. Travis was seated at the helm. And Captain Archer was sitting in the big chair. For a moment, all appeared to be right with the world, then Trip glanced at the science station. A young ensign was standing there in the place of Sub-commander T'Pol.
"Captain, she isn't back yet?" asked Trip, puzzled.
A few days earlier they had encountered an alien vessel. The Shriosians had refused to come aboard the Enterprise, but they seemed friendly enough when they invited the crew to board their vessel. The Vulcan science officer had elected to remain with them for a few days in order to observe a few experiments that they were conducting. The two ships had planned to rendezvous at a nearby asteroid field so that T'Pol could return to the Enterprise. That meeting had been scheduled for eleven o'clock the previous night.
"I'm afraid not." said Archer in reply to his question.
"Are they running late then?" asked Trip.
"If so, we've received no messages, and they are nine hours overdue."
Commander Tucker looked at the view screen. Thousands upon thousands of asteroids were scattered in front of the ship.
"Could they have crashed on one of those?" he asked.
"We've been scanning, Trip, but so far so good. We haven't found anything."
"So where is she, captain?"
"Right now, Malcolm and I believe that they are either just very late
and very inconsiderate or ..." he said, taking a deep breath, "they've
kidnapped our science officer."
"No warp trail?"
"None." replied Lieutenant Reed.
"No debris field?"
"None in sensor range, commander."
"Nothing on the long range scanners?"
Commander Tucker punched the instrument panel and muttered something to himself.
"What was that, sir?" asked Reed.
"I said I should have been the one to stay on board with them Shriosians." he said, running his hands through his hair and sighing in frustration.
"With your track record, sir? Not bloody likely." Malcolm told him gruffly. "Besides, T'Pol is our science officer." he added as Tucker turned to look at him hard.
Commander Tucker would never have wanted to admit it, but he had grown to have a certain appreciation for T'Pol. Sometimes he wanted to strangle her, but mostly he respected her and occasionally he could even admit that he liked her. Maybe those were the reasons why the hours were beginning to wear on him. It had been twelve hours since the Enterprise should have rendezvoused with the El'Hanara of Shriosia Major. And they were no closer to solving the problem of the missing ship that was carrying their missing officer.
"This is serious, lieutenant."
"You don't have to tell me that. I just don't know how we can ... fix this situation. Space is enormous, and the Shriosians could have taken her anywhere."
"Their ship could only go warp two at best."
"They have quite a head start."
"Are you telling me that we might never get her back, Malcolm?" asked Trip, looking very much as though the thought had not occurred to him.
"We might and we might not. But unless we find some sign of the ship, say, their warp trail or another clue ..." said Malcolm, shaking his head.
"I know. I know." said Trip, turning his attention back to the console.
"The nearest M class planet, Jon? Is that the best we can do?" asked Commander Tucker in frustration, leaving his seat in the ready room. He looked as though he desperately wanted to pace. Captain Archer motioned for him to sit back down.
"I'm afraid so, Trip. We doubled back to try and find any sign of that ship, but it didn't do us any good. Our sensors just weren't meant for this kind of thing." Archer explained.
"What does the planet look like?"
"It's hard to say. We won't have any detailed scans for at least another hour or longer."
"What's our ETA then?"
"Six hours unless you can squeeze a little more out of the engines."
"I could probably get another point two out of them." said Trip, smiling for the first time in hours. He had something useful that he could do, something that might help T'Pol, even if only a little bit.
"That would be great." said Archer, returning the smile.
Commander Tucker sprang to his feet and started for the door.
"You know, Trip, if I didn't know any better, I would say you were worried about her."
"I'd be just as worried if were Hoshi or even Malcolm."
Archer tilted his head to one side and said, "Sure you would."
"You implying something?"
"Not a thing, Trip. Now get to work on those engines."
"Even T'Pol would approve of an away mission." commented Captain Archer, looking at the satellites and star ships orbiting the little blue-green orb. It was obviously a planet where a considerable amount of trade and commerce took place.
"That she would, sir." agreed Malcolm.
"Hoshi, are you picking up any transmissions?"
"Hundreds, sir." she answered, furrowing her brow as she listened. Suddenly, she hurriedly pressed a few buttons on her console and listened even more intently. "I thought I heard a couple of words in Shriosian, or maybe a related language, but it's gone now." she informed the captain.
"Where was it coming from, ensign?"
"I couldn't get a fix on it, sir, but ... my guess is that it came from the planet."
"Can you narrow it down?"
"Only if they send another transmission."
Archer took a deep breath and looked at the turning globe on the view screen. Ships seemed to be leaving the surface or landing every few minutes. They were moving in and out of orbit too. There was a distinct possibility that T'Pol could be on one of those ships.
"Continue monitoring transmissions, Hoshi." he told her. Glancing at the ensign at the science station, he said, "Ensign Knight, begin scanning the surface for Vulcan bio-signs and monitor all out-going ships for the same."
"Aye, sir." she replied.
"Do you want a shuttlepod on stand-by, sir?" questioned Malcolm from tactical.
"Of course." nodded Archer, smiling grimly as he watched the bridge
crew hard at work. "With any luck we may be performing a rescue operation
soon." he added.
The Enterprise had been in orbit around the planet for several hours when Hoshi jumped to her feet at the communications station, startling both Ensign Knight and Captain Archer. She grinned after a few minutes and looked toward the captain.
"There are people speaking Shriosian down there." she said with some confidence.
"I have the coordinates." said Travis, looking up from his station.
"Send them to the shuttlepod." ordered Archer, coming to his feet. He turned toward Hoshi again and asked, "Are they saying anything that we would be interested in, ensign?"
"I think they just transmitted a cargo manifest to freighter." Hoshi answered, glancing up from her station. "They may not be our Shriosians, sir. I didn't catch any mention of Sub-commander T'Pol." she added.
"We take what we can get." shrugged the captain. "Malcolm, you have the bridge." he told the armory officer, who looked eager to go. "Hoshi, signal Commander Tucker to meet us in the shuttle bay and join us there." he instructed.
"Sir?" questioned Reed. "Are you sure you won't need some protection?"
"Trip and I will grab a pair of phase pistols. Don't worry about us."
said Archer firmly. His expression was one of fierce determination.
Commander Tucker was pacing the length of the shuttle bay when Archer arrived. He had been waiting for another chance to do something, anything since the Enterprise entered orbit. It had been a long wait as far as he was concerned. The captain gave Trip a phase pistol and a firm pat on the shoulder. Tucker looked at the weapon for a moment and nodded.
"You think it will come to shooting?" he asked the older officer quietly.
"I hope not, Trip, but we have them if we need them."
"Is she down there?" asked Tucker after a pause.
Archer walked over to the shuttlepod and opened the hatch, glancing at the crewmen who had readied it. He gave them a grateful nod as he pondered the commander's question.
"She had better be, or else we've come to a dead end."
Trip looked as though he was going to say something, but the sound of lightly running feet caused the words to falter. It was Hoshi, and she was carrying an extra set of universal translators. To her, they were better than phase pistols.
"Ready, sir." she said with a resolute nod, giving both men one of the linguistic devices.
"Then let's be on our way." said Archer.
The shuttlepod landed on a small corner of a large commercial landing zone not far from the coordinates where Hoshi had detected the Shriosian signal. It was a busy area where all of Commander Tucker's piloting skill was required just to avoid a collision in the air.
"I should have brought Ensign Mayweather. He would have loved this. Trip looks like he's on the verge of a nervous break down." thought Archer, watching Trip handle the controls as a small craft passed close enough to them to make the shuttlepod shimmy.
Noise assaulted their ears as they left the shuttle. The roar of engines overhead was louder than the ocean. Hoshi, whose hearing was the best, could also pick out a few voices here and there and the dull sound of what was once called traffic coming from the far side of the airfield. The cacophony belonged to a nearby city, an urban area that stretched for miles and miles around their landing site.
"That way!" yelled Hoshi over the din, pointing in the direction of some large, boxy structures than gave the appearance of being warehouses or perhaps enclosed commercial space of some kind.
They did not speak until they had left the landing area a few blocks behind them and the discord had died down to only a faint rush in the distance. Hoshi took out a tricorder and looked at it carefully.
"Anything?" asked Tucker impatiently.
"The coordinates are inside that building." she said, nodding toward a gray-green structure with a decorative archway.
"Are you reading any Vulcan bio-signs?" asked Captain Archer.
"I'm having a tough time reading anything, sir. I think all of the different propulsion systems, power sources, and radiation from those ships behind us are interfering with the tricorder. It isn't even picking up the three of us properly." she said, shaking her head and showing him the tricorder.
"I guess we should see for ourselves then." said Archer, glancing at
the instrument and motioning for her to put it away.
The archway of the building was decorated with dragon or lizard-like creatures wrought of a heavy, black metal. The opening of the building led to a long corridor that echoed with their footfalls. It was cool and shrouded inside, lit by only a few electrical lights that were shaped like rounded lanterns. Natural light could be seen at the end of the corridor, which led into a courtyard.
The trio stopped at the end of the corridor and surveyed what they could see. It was a wide courtyard decorated with plants in large earthen pots and lanterns on curved stands. The courtyard was filled with a large number of talking and laughing aliens of various kinds who seemed to a congregating around a stage, which was obscured from their view by the crowd.
"She's a wild one. She may not look it now, but she is all but untamable. Does anyone want to try? Bidding begins now!" said a loud, carnival voice from the area of the stage.
"They're bidding on a woman?" hissed Hoshi incredulously.
Archer and Tucker exchanged glances and began pressing through the crowd, carefully keeping Hoshi between them and out of harm's way, so to speak. When they reached the stage Archer bit back a gasp of surprise and Tucker barely contained a bellow of anger.
Sub-commander T'Pol was standing, or rather hanging by the wrists in an upright position beneath one of the decorative lamp posts. She was still in what she called her uniform, although it was rumpled and torn at both knees. She appeared to be drugged, unconscious, or both.
A well-dressed alien was standing next to her with a baton, extolling the virtues of the exotic beauty. He was not Shriosian, although a few were standing in the crowd. Hoshi thought she glimpsed one counting what appeared to be currency.
Commander Tucker slipped his phase pistol from its holster, but Hoshi grabbed his arm, and said, "Sir, you can't just shoot him." She had almost read his mind.
"But I should." he growled in return.
"There are too many people here, Trip. We can't just start a fire fight." agreed Archer, although he too had a phase pistol in his hand. His knuckles were white as he gripped the weapon.
Just then a contemptuous and bored voice rang out from the crowd. It belonged to a fellow with slightly pointed ears and, by Tucker's estimation, a somewhat deformed forehead. He looked almost Vulcan, but not quite.
"No one wants her, Saigin. They can tell she has ice water in her veins no matter what you say. They all do, you know. You are wasting our time trying to sell us a Vulcan." he called, crossing his arms and tossing his head arrogantly.
The auctioneer, Saigin by name, shook his fist at the man and said, "Tomarek, either bid on her or be quiet! This is a reputable establishment, and I will not have the likes of you disrupting my business."
"Very well, but do get on with it." said Tomarek with a subtle sneer.
"Captain! We have to do something!" said Trip anxiously.
"Maybe no one will bid on her." whispered Archer.
Trip looked at T'Pol and the thought began to cross his mind, "But she's so beautiful ..." But he caught himself and shook his head to clear it.
"Why don't we try to ... buy her?" suggested Tucker.
"You can't be serious!" objected Hoshi.
"With what?" asked the captain, ignoring the indignant ensign.
"Trade them a universal translator or maybe a phase pistol. Anything." said Trip desperately.
"Dealing with kidnappers and flesh peddlers isn't exactly my first choice, but we don't have a lot of options." said Captain Archer, tucking his phase pistol away.
"She's young and very strong. She could be a hard worker or an excellent concubine. She is in excellent condition. Just look at her!" Saigin told the crowd, most of whom were talking quietly amongst themselves. Tomarek was just watching Saigin with a bemused expression on his face.
Captain Archer cleared his throat and said, "I would be willing to make a trade for her."
Saigin seemed to smile as he walked toward Archer and his party. It was not a very pleasant smile at all.
"Which one?" he questioned, pointing to Trip and Hoshi.
"Not them. Equipment." said Archer quickly, gritting his teeth, but trying maintain his amiable facade.
He sighed and said, "Well, I had hopes." He was looking at Commander Tucker in a most unfavorable manner, which made the engineer quite nervous.
"I can trade you a piece of science equipment for her." said Archer, holding out a tricorder.
The auctioneer glanced at it and said, "I will probably not even earn back the fee I paid for her. At least this is something. She's yours. Regardless of what Tomarek says, I imagine she will make a nice addition to your collection."
"Fine." said Archer.
"Done." said Saigin, taking the tricorder. "Do you want to take her with you now or should I have her shipped to you?" he inquired.
"I'll take her now." said the captain curtly.