REUNION

A Star Trek/Battlestar Galactica Crossover

by Robert Perkins

CHAPTER 12

ABOARD U.S.S. ENTERPRISE, THE DELPHIC EXPANSE, 28 OCTOBER 2153, EARTH STANDARD CALENDAR

Captain Jonathan Archer sat alone in the ready room off the bridge of the ENTERPRISE, reading a report filed, just this morning, by Lieutenant Malcolm Reed, who had commanded the hybrid scout ship, the MARION, on a mission to gather data on several nearby Spheres. He pressed a button on his desktop to record an entry in the ship's log.

Captain's Starlog, October 28, 2153. The MARION has returned from its mission to gather data on the dangerous spatial anomalies which infest the Delphic Expanse, and on the mysterious Spheres which we suspect play some role in the creation of these anomalies. The decision to line the hull of the scout vessel with Trellium D is proving a wise one. The MARION detected an unusually strong gravimetric disturbance and, upon investigating, discovered huge spatial anomaly, larger than any seen before, which was expanding at a rate of several kilometers per second. Near the edge of this anomaly, the MARION found a small pod containing a humanoid life-form of unknown species. The MARION was able to successfully retrieve said pod and return it to the ENTERPRISE, where the humanoid is being treated by Dr. Phlox.[1]

T'Pol has studied the data gathered on the mission and has found that the anomaly field where the alien was discovered is located exactly at the central point between five spheres. T'Pol has offered a hypothesis that the anomalies form at points where the gravimetric waves emitted by the spheres intersect, and I find myself in agreement with her analysis. The spheres, whatever their true purpose may be, are the cause of the anomalies we have encountered.

Dr. Phlox reports that the alien recovered from the anomaly field is dying. My intuition tells me that this being has information which is vital to our mission. And somehow, I will get that information before the alien dies.

Dr. Phlox also reports that he is nearly ready to begin testing on the Cylon detector. Two Cylons...as it happens, identical copies of a model named John Cavil...have been transferred to the ENTERPRISE and are residing in our brig, under guard, awaiting these tests. Having been introduced to these Cylons for the first time on the arrival of Cavil aboard the ENTERPRISE, I must say that they seem, on the outside, to be completely human. I can see how they were so easily able to infiltrate Colonial society. We must prevent that from happening on Earth. This Cylon Detector has got to work.

Phlox also reports that the mimetic simbiot of Dr. Gaius Baltar, made from the Lyssarrian Desert Larvae he had in storage in his medical laboratory, is growing rapidly. Already, after just one day, it has reached the apparent age of four years. After discussing the situation with the doctor, it has been decided that only one of the simbiot's kidneys will be removed. Provided the transplant into Dr. Baltar is successful, the simbiot should be able to live out his normal lifespan.

"Pause log entry," Archer said to the computer, then sat back in his chair, staring off into space thoughtfully. He had many reservations about what they planned to do to this...being. But he was glad that it was possible to get the organ needed to save the life of Dr. Baltar without sacrificing, prematurely, the life of the simbiot. "At least we don't have to commit what is effectively murder in order to save Baltar," he said softly to himself. "Resume log entry," he said to the computer, and began recording again.

A mining expedition to a nearby asteroid field for Trellium ore has been successful. The Colonial mining ship returned with enough ore to produce enough refined Trellium D to meet all of our needs. Commander Tucker is currently supervising the refining process. When that is completed, work to coat the hull of the GALACTICA will begin.

The MARION, meanwhile, has been ordered to proceed to the nearest subspace amplifier to await the expected reply from Earth to our message sent several days ago. On a related note, the second hybrid scout vessel, to be named, at Mr. Reed's suggestion, the TARLETON, is nearing completion aboard the battlestar PEGASUS. Another is in the early stages of construction. These vessels will be extremely useful in our continuing search for the Xindi, and for a solution to the mystery of the spheres.

"End log entry," Archer said. He stood up. "Time to visit sickbay, I think." He strode over to the door of the ready room, which hissed softly as it slid open. Stepping out onto the bridge, he looked over at the science station, where Subcommander T'Pol was working. "T'Pol, accompany me to Sickbay, please," Archer said.

"Yes, Captain," T'Pol said, and followed him to the turbolift. When the lift door shut, T'Pol spoke again. "Captain, I've performed an analysis of the composition of the hull of the pod which the MARION recovered. The hull of the pod is composed of the exact combination of alloys we found on the surface of the Spheres."

"So, you're telling me that whoever built the Spheres, also built the pod which carried the alien we now have in Sickbay," Archer said, frowning.

"Data is insufficient to say so with certainty," T'Pol said. "But I would estimate the probability of two different races using the exact same combination of highly unusual alloys to be extremely low."

"That's good enough for me," Archer said, smiling. He often found the Vulcan insistence on absolute precision to be amusing...or irritating. "Well," he said, "it appears that we may have the key to the mystery of the spheres lying in our sickbay." He frowned again. "But why was he left in the middle of that anomaly field?"

"It appears the pod was designed to transmit data regarding the alien's physiological status," T'Pol replied. "I believe he was inserted into the disturbance so someone could monitor his exposure to the environment."

A thoughtful look came over Archer's face. "A canary," he said softly.

"A canary, Sir?" T'Pol asked, baffled.

"A small, yellow bird native to Earth. On old Earth, miners would take canaries into the tunnels with them," the Captain replied. "If the canary died, they knew that the air was not safe to breathe." He crossed his arms and stroked his chin thoughtfully. Then, suddenly, the answer dawned on him. And he didn't like it at all. "The Spheres...they're reconfiguring space in this region to make it...habitable...for members of this species. This alien was placed there to test the success of that experiment."

T'Pol's right eyebrow quirked upwards. "Your conclusion is logical," she said. "But the question is, why?"

The doors to the lift hissed open as they arrived on E-Deck, where Sickbay was located. Archer stepped out, then looked at T'Pol as she followed him. "I don't know, T'Pol," he said. "None of the answers which come to mind are comforting." His face hardened. "But I'll tell you one thing I do know. That alien in sickbay has the answers. And I'm going to get them." He strode away rapidly toward Sickbay, with T'Pol in tow.

When they arrived in Sickbay, they found Dr. Phlox monitoring the readings in the being gathered from the unconscious alien. Archer looked down and was repulsed by the appearance of the alien, a humanoid whose rough, dry-looking, flaking skin gave him the appearance of someone with a severe case of ichthyosis. The alien shook violently with painful-looking spasms. Archer looked at Phlox. "What's the prognosis, Doctor?"

"Not good, I'm afraid," Phlox said. "He's suffering from a form of rapid cellular degeneration. He's literally disintegrating and there doesn't seem to be any way to stop it."

"Can you revive him?" Archer asked.

"Why, yes, but I'm not sure I should," the doctor said. "He'd be in terrible pain, and there's nothing I can do for him."

"Phlox, I've got to talk to him," Archer insisted. "This being is apparently one of the race which built the Spheres. The Spheres are reconfiguring space in this region so that creatures of his kind can live here. I've got to know why."

Just then the young clone of Gaius Baltar, who had been playing quietly with some toys in the next room, ran up. The boy tugged at the leg of Phlox's trousers, looking up at him. "Daddy!" he wailed.

Archer looked at him. At last report, the clone had achieved the apparent age of four years. We can add at least another year, maybe two, to that, just in the last few hours, he thought to himself. Amazing.

T'Pol's eyebrow jerked upward in surprise, and then one corner of her mouth quirked upward. "Daddy?" she asked the doctor.

The skin of Phlox's face darkened a bit in the Denobulan equivalent of a blush. "Er, yes," he said. He squatted down to look into the boy's eyes. "I'm a little busy at the moment, Sim," he said.

"Sim?" Archer asked.

"Yes," Phlox said. "It seemed somehow appropriate." He looked back into the boy's eyes. "Run and play now, and I'll give you your dinner in a few minutes."

The dark-haired boy smiled. "All right, Daddy," he said. He turned and skipped out of the room. Phlox stood back up. "I'm sorry about that, Captain."

Archer smiled. "Quite all right, doctor," he said. "Now, about the alien..."

"Captain," Phlox interrupted, "I understand your need to speak to the alien, but to bring him to consciousness would be unethical."

"Phlox, we're going to have to bend a few ethics," Archer said harshly. Then he smiled sardonically, glancing briefly toward the doorway through which the young clone of Gaius Baltar had just passed. "Hell, we've already bent more than a few on this mission."

Phlox sighed. "Yes," he said softly. He picked up a hypospray from a nearby tray and adjusted the settings on it. Pressing it against the alien's neck, he pressed the button and a there was a soft hiss as the stimulant was injected. The alien moaned softly, and its eyes opened.

"Who are you?" it demanded. "Why have you brought me here?"

"I'm Captain Archer."

"You had no right to bring me here," the alien said. "Return me to my vessel."

"I don't think so," Archer replied. "Your vessel had minimal life support. You wouldn't survive long."

"That's none of your concern!" the alien hissed. "Return me to my vessel at once!"

"We know you're one of the race which built the Spheres," Archer replied calmly. "We know why you were sent there."

"I don't know what you're talking about," the alien growled.

"Yes, you do," Archer said, smiling. "You were sent there as a test subject...to see if someone of your race could survive within the space which is being reconfigured by the Spheres. The question is, why?"

"I'm not going to answer your questions, Captain," the alien said. He groaned in agony as another spasm wracked his body.

"His pain medication is wearing off," the doctor said. He reached for a hypospray from a nearby tray.

"Hold off, doctor," Archer said grimly.

"Captain!" Phlox protested.

"On my responsibility, Doctor," Archer said. He bent over the alien, looking deeply into its eyes, a savage look on his face. "Painful, isn't it? Doctor Phlox tells me you're literally disintegrating from the inside out. I can't imagine how that must feel."

"Captain, I must protest," T'Pol said.

"Noted," Archer said with a quick glance at his Vulcan second-in-command. He looked back at the alien. "Why are your people reconfiguring the space in this region?"

"I...I don't know," the alien stammered. He gasped as another wave of pain surged over him.

"Yes, you do," Archer said, matter-of-factly. "Why?"

The alien shook as another wave took him, and a stream of green spittle drooled from one corner of its mouth. "We're...we're...not from...your...area of space," he struggled to say. "We come...from...a transdimensional...realm." Its eyes rolled back into its head. "Please...the pain..."

"You're attempting to recreate your native habitat, here, in our universe," Archer pressed as the full truth dawned on him. "So you can settle here. So you can invade our galaxy!"

"Yes!" the alien wailed. Then suddenly it laughed, almost maniacally. "And when the Xindi destroy Earth, we will prevail!"

Archer stepped back in shock at the alien's bald pronouncement, and Phlox rushed in to administer a dose of pain medication and sedative. The hypospray hissed as he pressed it against the alien's neck. The creature closed its eyes and went still, breathing raggedly.

Archer looked on it with horror. "Keep that...thing...under sedation, Doctor," he ordered.

"Yes, Captain," Phlox said. "I must inform you of my duty to report this incident in my medical logs."

"Understood," Archer said. Without another word, he turned and left Sickbay.

[1]This is the alien discovered in the ST:ENT episode "Harbinger," the events of which occurred exactly two months later in the show as broadcast, on December 27, 2153. Because the MARION doesn't have to try to avoid the anomaly fields, it discovered the alien earlier in the ATL.

ABOARD U.S.S. ENTERPRISE, THE DELPHIC EXPANSE, 29 OCTOBER 2153

On the morning of October 29, 2153, Captain Archer sat in his Ready Room, awaiting the arrival of Admiral Adama from the GALACTICA. Today, although he usually did so himself, he had detailed T'Pol and Malcolm to greet the Admiral upon his arrival in the landing bay. The shocking information revealed by his interrogation the previous day of the alien recovered by the MARION filled his mind, and he could think of little else. Indeed, it was this matter which Admiral Adama had come to discuss. While he waited, he recorded another entry into his log.

Captain's Starlog, October 29, 2153. Yesterday, as a result of our interrogation of the alien recovered two days ago by the MARION from a large spatial anomaly several light years away from our present position, it was learned that the mysterious spheres we have encountered here in the Delphic Expanse were constructed by a race of trans-dimensional aliens who are using them to reconfigure this region of space to make it habitable for themselves, thus providing them with a base from which they plan to invade and conquer our galaxy. As if that revelation was not shocking enough in itself, the alien also revealed that this race is somehow responsible for the attack by the Xindi on the Earth, being evidently convinced that if the Xindi destroy Earth, their race will prevail when it attempts the invasion of our galaxy.

The story is so incredible as to be almost unbelievable. But the evidence we have all fits. I wish we could get more information from the alien, but Dr. Phlox has refused to bring him out of sedation again. I have decided that Admiral Adama, who is cooperating with our mission here, should be made aware of these latest findings. He is on his way here now.

"End log entry," Archer said to the computer, then sat back in his chair and stared out of the viewing port into the star-speckled blackness of space. Archer wished he could interrogate the alien again. We need more information, he thought, frustrated, to himself. But he knew Dr. Phlox would never permit it, and in Sickbay, Phlox outranked the Captain. The alien was literally disintegrating. Phlox thought it was an effect caused by his removal from the environment within the anomaly, although he couldn't be sure. But be that as it may, if Phlox brought the alien out of sedation, he would be in terrible agony. Archer had used that agony against the alien to gain the information he had gotten yesterday. He knew he would be haunted by that decision for a long time to come. I'm not a barbarian, he thought to himself. I did what was necessary. But he still couldn't help but be ashamed of what he had done. "I can live with a little shame," he said softly to himself, "if Earth can be saved."

Phlox had proposed returning the alien to his pod as a possible way of stopping the cellular degeneration. The doctor didn't know if that would work, but Archer had authorized it. Phlox was, even now, down in the cargo bay with a full security team, reapplying the various sensors and other devices which had been attached to the alien when it was found. Some of these apparently tapped into the alien's brain, and Archer hoped that they might somehow be able to use this to secure more information before the alien died. But he couldn't guess how they would do that. The technology aboard the alien vessel was far more advanced than anything aboard the ENTERPRISE.

Just then, Hoshi Sato's voice came in over his intercom speakers. "Admiral Adama is on his way up from the landing bay, Sir," she said.

"Thank you, Hoshi," Archer replied.

A couple of minutes later, the door to the Ready Room opened, and T'Pol, followed by Admiral Adama, stepped inside. Archer rose to greet the Admiral.

"Admiral Adama," he said, smiling and offering his hand. "I'm glad you could come on such short notice."

Adama took Archer's hand, smiling in return. "I'm always at your service, Captain." He sat down in the chair waiting for him in front of the Captain's desk.

"Well," Archer began, "we've gained some important information which I think you need to know about. We recovered an alien being from a large spatial anomaly located several light years away from here. We've learned that he is a member of a race of trans-dimensional beings which built the mysterious spheres I've told you about, whose effects make travel in the Delphic Expanse so dangerous. We've learned that the Xindi attack on Earth was instigated through the influence of these aliens, who believe that the destruction of Earth will enable them to successfully invade our galaxy. I don't know how the two correlate, but this race is extremely advanced, and it is likely they have some sort of knowledge of future events which we do not."

"I see," Adama said. "So you believe that time travel is possible?"

Archer saw T'Pol's incredulous look as she stood silently behind the Admiral. He smiled. "I see that you share my first officer's skepticism about that possibility. But I'll tell you something that only a select few people know...we've encountered travelers from the future before. We don't know how it's accomplished, but time travel is possible."

Adama's eyes widened. "So these...trans-dimensional, did you call them...aliens, might also be time-travelers sent here to alter the future by removing the human race from future history?"

"I think that might very well be the case," Archer said, nodding.

"What are you going to do?" Adama asked.

"The alien is dying," Archer replied. "We're trying to get more information before he dies, and Dr. Phlox has placed him back into his vessel and is re-engaging the various direct connections between the alien and the vessel's computer which we disengaged when we brought him here."

"Isn't that dangerous?" Adama asked.

"Well, we're keeping him under heavy sedation," Archer said. "But it occurred to me that if we could somehow tap into the alien computer system while the alien is hooked up to it, perhaps we might be able to access more of the information from the alien's brain." He frowned. "Unfortunately, I have no idea how we'd do that."

Adama sat back in his chair and looked thoughtful for a moment, stroking his chin as he considered the problem. "I may have someone who can help you with that," he said finally.

"Really?" Archer asked, surprised.

"Yes," Adama said. "Although you may not like it when I tell you who it is. She's a Cylon."

Now it was Archer's turn to sit back in his chair. "A Cylon?" he asked.

"Yes," Adama said. "Her name is Sharon Agathon. She fell in love with, and married, one of my pilots, and defected from the Cylons. She joined our fleet several months ago. Up until recently we've treated her as a prisoner and not extended much in the way of trust toward her. Despite that, she's assisted us several times against the Cylons. Recently her husband was killed by the Cylons, and she's made it clear that she is now fully committed to our cause. She turned in a number of Cylon infiltrators among the fleet…indeed, we believe she unmasked all of them…and she gave us information that implicated Gaius Baltar in a conspiracy which led to the fall of the Colonies."

Archer frowned. "Are you sure we can trust her?"

"Even when we didn't trust her, she did help us when her own survival was at stake," Adama said. "And, given her recent actions, she can't go back to the Cylons without fear of retribution. Earth represents her best hope for survival."

"How can she help us?" Archer asked, leaning forward with undisguised interest now.

"Well," Adama said, smiling, "let's just say she's very good with computers. In fact, she has the ability to directly interface with them. I can't say for sure that she'd be able to interface with an alien system such as you describe, but if she can, she might be able to get you the information you're looking for."

"All right," Archer said. "Let's try it. The alien's condition is worsening, and if we don't act quickly, it may be too late."

Adama rose from his seat. "I'd better get back to the GALACTICA, then," he said. Archer got up, smiling. "I'll accompany you to the landing bay, Admiral."

They left the Ready Room together and got into the turbolift. As they rode the lift down to the lower levels of the ship, Archer smiled. "There's another bit of news you'll be interested in," he said. "The MARION has returned from the communications relay with a response to our message from Earth. The government of Earth has decided to extend protection to your fleet and grant you the status of refugees. In exchange for access to your technology, especially the faster-than-light jump drive, they have agreed to find homes for you on Earth, or on one of Earth's off-world colonies, whichever your people prefer."

"That's wonderful news!" Adama said, a broad smile on his face. He extended his hand, and Archer took it. "Thank you, Captain, for all you and your people are doing for us."

"I'm glad they saw it my way," Archer said, smiling in return. "There's more. Starfleet has agreed with my plan to refit the GALACTICA with Earth weapons and defensive technology. They have devoted our most advanced shipyard to the task. As soon as we complete the work to line the hull of GALACTICA with Trellium D, you can take her and the rest of your fleet, except PEGASUS, on to Earth."

"That's wonderful," Adama repeated. "Thank you again, Captain."

Just then, the doors to the landing bay opened. Archer and Adama walked over to the Raptor which had brought the Admiral to the ENTERPRISE. The Colonial Marines who formed Adama's personal guard came to attention.

"Have a safe journey back to your vessel, Admiral," Archer said.

"I'll be back as soon as I can," Adama said.

He stepped up into the Raptor, followed by the two marines, and the door closed behind him. Archer retreated back to the control room of the landing bay, and watched as the mechanical arm lowered down and the magnetic pads latched onto the top surface of the Raptor. The bay doors opened beneath the vessel, and the arm lowered it downward, out of sight, into the blackness of space. Then the arm lifted upwards into the landing bay again…minus the Raptor, which Archer knew was already on its way back to the GALACTICA.

Once the landing bay repressurized, Archer left and headed back to the bridge. After taking status reports from T'Pol, Malcolm, and Ensign Mayweather regarding starship operations and other matters, he went back into the privacy of his Ready Room. He sat down at his desk and pressed the communications button.

"Archer to Phlox," he said.

"Phlox here," he heard the doctor's voice reply.

"How is he?" Archer asked . They both knew of whom he was speaking.

"His condition has not substantially changed, Captain," Phlox said. "The degeneration is continuing, although it has slowed a bit since his return to the life pod, and he is under sedation as ordered. It appears that the alien cannot survive outside the environment of the anomaly."

"Were you able to get him reconnected with the equipment in the pod again?" the Captain asked.

"Yes, Captain," the doctor replied.

Archer frowned. "Doctor, I need your opinion on something. If we were somehow able to interface with the alien computer aboard the pod, do you think it would be possible to access information from the alien's mind, without removing him from sedation?"

There was a long moment of silence, and he could almost see the frown come over Phlox's face as he considered the question. "I'm not sure, Captain," Phlox finally said. "But it might be possible. Based on my admittedly limited understanding of this technology, the computer aboard the vessel is supposed to monitor all aspects of the alien's physical and mental condition. If they are concerned about the possibility of insanity, for example, they'd need to be able to monitor the thoughts of the subject to at least some degree."

The voice of Commander "Trip" Tucker, who was there with Phlox, assisting with the reattachment of the alien technology to the alien being, came over the intercom. "Captain, do you have an idea how to interface with this computer? This stuff is so advanced, we can't make heads or tails of it."

"Admiral Adama has suggested a possible means of accomplishing that," Archer said. "I don't know if it'll work, Trip. But we're going to try it. Archer out."

Archer busied himself with reading reports and completing other bits of paperwork he'd been putting off, given the excitement of the past couple of weeks, until he heard Hoshi's voice come over the intercom to inform him of the approach of Admiral Adama's Raptor. He strode out of the Ready Room and onto the Bridge. "T'Pol, Malcolm, with me. Mr. Mayweather, you have the bridge."

"Yes, Sir!" Travis Mayweather said, a broad grin splitting his face. He didn't get to command the bridge very often, and he relished these opportunities. Hoshi saw this and smiled, shaking her head in amusement.

Archer, T'Pol, and Lieutenant Reed got onto the turbolift, the door shutting after them. Archer looked at Malcolm. "Admiral Adama is bringing a Cylon aboard. Apparently she's a defector, who fell in love with one of Adama's human pilots and had a child by him."

"A child, Captain?" T'Pol said, arching an eyebrow in surprise. "How can an artificial being produce offspring with a biological organism?"

Archer smiled, wanly. "I don't know, T'Pol. Apparently these Cylons are much more like humans than we had been led to believe."

"Are we sure we can trust this...thing?" Malcolm asked, clearly not convinced that the term "Cylon defector" wasn't an oxymoron. "We've heard what they did to the Twelve Colonies."

"That's why you're here, Malcolm," Archer replied. "Apparently, the Cylons killed the...husband...of this defector, and she has completely abandoned the Cylon cause. She even, apparently, turned over a number of Cylon agents who were operating aboard the Colonial fleet. Adama trusts her. But I don't...not yet. I want you to keep an eye on her, Malcolm."

"Yes, Sir," Malcolm said, a frown on his face. "I won't let her out of my sight."

"Why is Admiral Adama bringing her aboard, Captain?" T'Pol asked.

"Apparently these Cylons have a unique ability to directly interface with computers," Archer said. "We're going to let her take a crack at the alien computer aboard that life pod in the cargo hold."

The turbolift reached Deck E, and the three officers exited and walked briskly to the launch bay control room. They got there just in time to see the mechanical arm lifting the Raptor up into the bay. They waited until the bay doors closed beneath the Raptor, the mechanical arm set it down and disengaged, and the bay repressurized. Then they took the elevator down to the bay itself, stepping out just in time to greet Admiral Adama and his companion. Archer saw that the Cylon defector was, in fact, a lovely young woman with Asian features whose appearance reminded him of the ENTERPRISE's communications officer, Ensign Sato, dressed in a pair of tight black slacks and a white tank top which accentuated her figure. They could almost be sisters, he thought to himself as he stared at her. If this one was human, that is.

Admiral Adama stepped forward. Gesturing toward his companion, he said, "This is Sharon Agathon."

Archer hesitated. He bowed slightly. "Mrs. Agathon," he said. "Welcome aboard the ENTERPRISE."

The Cylon nodded back in acknowledgement. "Captain," she said. She looked around. "So, this is the Earth vessel I've heard about. I almost didn't believe it."

"Admiral Adama tells me you have an affinity for computers," Archer said, smiling. "We have an...unusual...machine we'd like you to take a look at."

"So I've heard," she said, looking back at Archer. "I'll do what I can, Captain. I'm not sure I'm any better qualified to get into this alien computer than your own people."

"We can't ask any more of you than that," Archer said, smiling.

Malcolm couldn't help staring at the Cylon. Can this really be...a machine? he asked himself. She's...beautiful. He frowned. He had to stay focused. This...person..machine...whatever...posed a threat to his ship and her crew. He had armed himself with a phase pistol from an armory locker on the way to the launchbay. His hand strayed to it now.

For her part, T'Pol was not affected by the Cylon's appearance. She had seen how human-like they were, when the Cylon known as Cavil was brought aboard to be used in Dr. Phlox's test of the Cylon Detector he was developing. She looked at Archer, who, like Malcolm, was, at the moment, staring at the Cylon.

"Captain," she said, "perhaps we should adjourn to the cargo bay, and let Mrs. Agathon get to work?"

Snapped out of his short-lived trance, Archer turned quickly to T'Pol. "Yes, subcommander," he said quickly. "Let's do that."

A short time later, as they entered the cargo bay, they were met by Dr. Phlox and Trip. Trip smiled broadly upon seeing the attractive young woman who entered with Admiral Adama. "Well," he said amiably. "Who's this?"

T'Pol's right eyebrow quirked upward and she felt a brief surge of anger as she noted Trip's interest in the young woman. Unknown to the other members of the ENTERPRISE crew, she had recently begun secretly taking injections of Trellium D. Trellium D was severely toxic to Vulcans, but it also had the side effect of releasing the emotions of a Vulcan. She had experienced this effect, about a month before, during the ENTERPRISE's encounter with the doomed Vulcan cruiser, the SELEYA. She had found it...intoxicating...and had determined to see whether small doses of Trellium, administered under controlled conditions, might enable her to experience this emotional release again. It had. But she was finding it more and more difficult to control these new-found emotions. "This is a Cylon," she said, glaring at Trip.

Phlox noticed the odd look in T'Pol's eye. "Are you all right, Subcommander?" he asked.

T'Pol straightened up and assumed her normal, dignified expression. "Quite all right, Doctor."

Trip, for his part, took a step back, a shocked expression on his face. "A Cylon?" he asked. "What is she doing here?"

"Trip, Phlox, this is Mrs. Sharon Agathon," Captain Archer said. "She's going to attempt to gain access to the alien computer system. Apparently, the Cylons have, shall we say, unique abilities when it comes to computers."

Sharon stood with Admiral Adama, bemused by the reactions of the Earthlings to her presence. "May I take a look at the system?" she asked.

Trip stepped aside. "Of course," he said.

Sharon stepped forward and looked into the alien pod. She found that she was repulsed and fascinated by the appearance of the unconscious alien, who by now was oozing greenish fluid from a a myriad of cracks in its flaking, scaly skin. Oddly enough, the alien was oddly translucent, and she could almost, but not quite, see through parts of him as he lay on the bench below her. But then she remembered why she was here, and she tore her eyes away and looked, instead, at the consoles and panels of the computer which monitored the being's life functions. She couldn't be sure, of course, but she saw what looked like an outlet where a data cable might be plugged into the system. She looked at Trip.

"Do you see that outlet there?"she asked. "Do you think you could rig up a compatible connector for me?"

Trip looked where she pointed. "Yes, I think so."

"Do you have any optical cable?" Sharon asked.

"Yes, of course," Trip said, scratching his head. "But why?"

"If you could rig me up say, about two meters of optical cable with a connector on one end which can be plugged into that outlet, I'll show you," Sharon said, smiling.

"Do as she says, Trip," Captain Archer said.

"Yes, Sir," he said, and hurried away.

"Are you sure you want to do this?" Admiral Adama asked, concern on his face. "What if that's not a data port? What if it's a power outlet or something like that?"

"This won't injure my patient, will it?" Phlox demanded. He was still very unhappy with himself at having allowed Captain Archer to torture his patient the previous day. He wasn't about to stand for any more of that.

Sharon looked at Phlox. "No, this shouldn't affect your patient at all, Doctor." Looking at Adama, she smiled sardonically. "It's a chance we'll have to take, Admiral. The Captain needs more information, and this may be the only way to get it for him."

"Thank you," Captain Archer said.

"I can't go back to my own people, Captain," Sharon said, a sad look on her face. "I've cast my fate with yours, and if I can do anything to save them, I will."

Trip came back, carrying a small coil of optical cable with the required connector attached. Sharon looked at Phlox. "Doctor, do you have a scalpel in your medical bag, by chance?"

"Why, yes," Phlox said, producing a laser scalpel from the emergency medical kit he carried.

Sharon took the cable from Trip, plugged the connector into the outlet in the alien pod, then held out her right arm, palm up. "Doctor, if you would be so kind as to make a small incision...about 2 centimeters ought to do it...in my wrist..."

Phlox hesitated, looking into Sharon's eyes, unsure of himself. But then, he gently took her hand in his own, and, turning on the scalpel, made a small incision in her upturned wrist as she had requested. Red, quite human-looking blood trickled out. Phlox turned the scalpel off and put it back into his med-kit. Then, to his amazement, Sharon plunged the end of the optical cable into the incision and pushed it up into her arm. She winced with pain as she did so, and sank slowly to the floor, sitting down with her back propped up on the cold metal of the alien pod. .

"Young lady! What are you doing!" Phlox exclaimed with alarm and started forward to stop her. But Admiral Adama grabbed him.

"It's all right, Doctor," Sharon said, recovering herself. "You've been studying us for a while, now. You know our nervous systems are made of silica."

Phlox gasped as he realized what she was doing. "Yes!" he exclaimed. "And you think you can achieve a direct interface between your brain and the alien computer by means of that optical cable?"

"She's done it before with our computers," Adama said as he released his grip on the doctor.

"So this is what you meant when you said she had 'unique abilities' when it came to computers," Trip said, a look of amazement on his face. "Well, for her sake, let's hope it works. Because that looks mighty painful!" T'Pol glared at him again.

Sharon smiled. "It's not pleasant, but its bearable," she said. "Shall we begin?"

"Go ahead," Captain Archer said.

Sharon closed her eyes and began to concentrate. She could see, in her mind, the alien computer code flashing by, and it was totally incomprehensible. But gradually, as she concentrated on it, it began to assume recognizable patterns. She made tentative attempts to control it, to manipulate it. At first she failed, but she kept trying, attempting different commands aimed at different parts of the system, trying to find a gateway which would allow her access to the system. .

Captain Archer watched her with rapt attention. He could see her trembling slightly as she did...whatever it was she was doing. Is she in pain, he wondered. If Cylons can feel pain, how like us they must be. And yet how different.

After what seemed like an eternity but was, in reality, less than twenty minutes, Sharon's eyes suddenly opened. She stared straight ahead, into space, and then, her mouth opened as she began to speak. "I have access," she said. At that same moment, the alien shuddered as it lay, still unconscious, in its lifepod.

"Can you read its thoughts?" Archer asked.

"Yes," Sharon said, her voice a near monotone.

"We've theorized that these aliens are not only from another dimension, but from another time," Archer said. "We found, in the wreckage of the Xindi weapon which attacked Earth, evidence that some components of it were manufactured over four hundred years in the future. Were these aliens the source of that material?"

"Yes," Sharon said.

Archer squatted down in front of Sharon, looking deep into her eyes. "We know the weapon which attacked Earth was just a prototype. Does the alien know how far along the Xindi are in constructing the final version they intend to use to destroy the Earth?"

"Yes," Sharon said. "There is another prototype which they must complete and successfully test before they can finish the final weapon." As she spoke, the alien shuddered again, this time more violently. "He has sensed me," she said. "He is trying to repel me from his mind." She shuddered in turn. "The second prototype will be tested...within the next six weeks..." She cried out in pain.

Suddenly, there was a shower of sparks inside the alien pod. Foul smelling smoke rose from the panel where the optical cable was connected. Sharon quickly ripped the cable out of her arm. She sat with wide eyes, breathing raggedly. Phlox rushed to her side, scanning her with his medical tricorder. "She's received a severe shock to her nervous system," he said. He quickly reached into his med-kit for his autosuture and began treating the open wound left behind by the cable.

Archer looked up at the alien inside the pod, and was horrified to see it gradually disintegrate into a pool of greenish goo before his eyes. He looked down at Sharon. "He killed himself, and in the process, almost killed you," he said.

Sharon shuddered again, then her eyes fluttered shut for a moment. When she opened them again, she looked directly into Archer's eyes. "The spheres," she said. "You've got to destroy them. He tried to hide this from me, but I got past his defenses just before he..." She shuddered again. "The spheres, they don't just reconfigure space," she continued. "The aliens also use them to...create portals...to bring...from the future...the components the Xindi are using to build their weapon."

"How do we do that?" Archer asked.

"I...don't know," Sharon said, shaking her head from side to side. "I don't know. But...there's still time to...prevent the completion of the weapon...the Xindi don't have all the components they need...to finish it..." She passed out.

"The aliens haven't delivered all the components yet," Archer said softly, standing up. "But how do we destroy the Spheres?"

"Indeed," T'Pol said. "There is a vast network of them, spanning many light years of space in this region, Captain. To destroy them all would seem to be impossible."

"There's got to be a way," Malcolm said, slamming his right fist into his left hand for emphasis.

"Yes," Archer said. "And we'd better find it...quickly."