Sacrifices

By ginamr

Rating: PG-13

Genres: virtual season

Keywords:

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Star Trek: The Continuing Voyages of the Enterprise
A Virtual Season 6 Series

By Ginamr

Rating: PG-13


Disclaimer: Only new characters and plots are mine. The original characters belong to Paramount. I receive no monetary reward for my work; my only reward is the joy of creating.

Author's Note:

I know I keep changing which canon details I'm including. I've decided for certain to throw out the fact from TATV that Trip and T'Pol ended their romantic relationship after Terra Prime as well as the fact that Trip dies in TATV. So this is your warning: what you're about to read might throw some canon you've been shown by B & B out the window.

Also, at this time I'd like to give you all the link to a video by katsiri that has inspired me time after time to keep writing:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93IYRJNjID4

I hope it inspires you all as well.

Also, before anyone says anything...most of the scenes between battles aren't critical to the story, but are more areas of character development.

Keywords: riot, deflector, shielding, experimental, virtual series


Last Time on Star Trek: Enterprise...Deadly Alliance

6.05-Sacrifices
Story Two of Three

Summary: As United Earth president, Nadir Piente struggles to keep the nations of Earth together, Andoria is now more adamant than ever to avoid an alliance with Earth. Archer and Shran work to keep their worlds together.


MOSS POINT, MISSISSIPPI, EARTH-HOME OF CHARLES AND CATHERINE TUCKER
APRIL 6
TH, 2156-1803 HOURS

Charles Tucker sighed as he lowered himself into his favorite chair, smiling as the cushions of the chair adjusted to his body shape. He reached for the remote on the end table beside him and turned on the large flatscreen monitor, then selecting the news datastream.

A few moments later, the image of an attractive, raven-haired woman dressed in business attire appeared on the screen.

"Our first story tonight," the anchor began. An image of Starfleet Headquarters with the words "Deadly Riot" below appeared in the upper right corner. "Demonstrators gathered outside of Starfleet Headquarters today in violent protest, demanding that Starfleet cease all exploration efforts and order all starships currently on assignment to return home. The demonstrators managed to slip past Headquarters' tight security and attack several key Starfleet personnel."

Charles' eyes widened. "Catherine!"

Catherine hurried into the room. "What? What's wrong?" she asked, frantic.

Charles pointed at the monitor. Both stared in amazement as footage revealed a mob crashing through the front doors, knocking several men and women in uniform to the ground and then proceeding to beat their victims brutally.

"There were no fatalities, but several were taken to Headquarters' medical facility, among them Starfleet Admiral Alexander Blackwell who remains in critical condition."

Charles turned down the television. "I knew this was goin' ta happen as soon as I read that article in the paper this morning." He shook his head. "Damn anarchists. They've blown this whole thing out of proportion. Those Terra Prime idiots are just looking for more reasons to isolate Earth from the rest of the universe."

Catherine nodded, wiping her hands with a kitchen towel. "It's a good thing Trip isn't here to see this." She shook her head. "The very people our son risked his life to save are turning against him."

Charles' lips tightened as the pain of his daughter's death resurfaced. He remembered well the temptation he'd felt following the attack to join Terra Prime and fight to preserve his home. The more he'd watched of their demonstrations, however, the more he'd realized that the xenophobes weren't protesting due to strong beliefs that extraterrestrials were inferior. They protested because they feared that extraterrestrials might seek to conquer them. After meeting his son's girlfriend, T'Pol, he was further convinced that the xenophobes' fear came from simple ignorance.

"I only hope that these racist SOBs are stopped before it breaks apart the United Earth alliance," Charles added somberly.

Catherine sighed. "It'll all turn out," she replied. "Even if it means civil war in the short term, it'll turn out in the end. It always does."


ENTERPRISE-BRIDGE
APRIL 6
TH, 2156-1010 HOURS

The bridge shook violently as Enterprise took another hit to her hull. Reed ducked as several consoles exploded behind him, smoke filling the bridge.

"Damage report!" Archer shouted.

Reed glanced at the updates coming in rapidly from all over the ship as well as his station's stats. "Hull plating is down to 18 percent and we've lost the starboard nacelle! Forward phase cannons are offline!"

"No response to our hails or our distress call, sir," Hoshi added.

Archer's lips tightened. "Keep trying, Hoshi!" He paused. If Mayweather maneuvered so that the two ships were in range of their remaining cannons, he'd risk the Romulans knocking them out as well, leaving Enterprise defenseless. He glanced around at the anxious expressions his officers wore and released a heavy sigh. It was their best hope. "Bring us about, Travis."

Travis nodded and entered a series of commands into his console. Anticipating his captain's order, Reed rerouted all available power to the rear phase cannons and stood ready. "Done, sir."

Archer stared at the view screen as Mayweather maneuvered until the two vessels were behind them. The ship rocked dangerously and several more consoles exploded.

"Now, Lieutenant!" Archer shouted.

Reed quickly fired at their power conduit juncture and they all waited with baited breath.

"Minimal damage!" T'Pol reported from her station.

Archer's heart sank.

"They're firing!" Reed shouted.

Tension filled the bridge as they waited for the blast that would tear the ship apart. But it never came.

Reed's eyes widened. "Sir, I'm picking up another ship! It's the Sh'Raan!" He paused. "The two Romulan ships have lost weapons and are retreating."

Archer sighed in relief. "Hoshi, hail the Sh'raan."

A moment later, Soval's face appeared on the viewscreen. "Captain," he greeted.

Archer grinned. "Ambassador. A pleasure, as always...and wonderful timing, as always."

Soval arched an eyebrow. "You appeared to need assistance...as usual."

A small smile slid over Archer's lips and he nodded. "As usual."

"Do you anticipate they will return in larger numbers?" Soval queried.

"I have no doubt," Archer replied. "Gamma Virginis must be strategically important to them or they wouldn't have come back a second time." At the Ambassador's raised eyebrows, he added, "If you would like to come aboard, Ambassador, I can explain in more detail."

Soval inclined his head in agreement. "I look forward to it, Captain."

The screen then returned to its normal view. Archer turned to Hoshi. "Contact Shran and request that he come aboard Enterprise for a briefing in one hour. It concerns his peoples' safety."

Hoshi nodded and got to work on the message. Archer stepped into the lift and the doors closed behind him.


ENTERPRISE-COMMAND CENTER
APRIL 6
TH, 2156-1126 HOURS

Archer glanced around at the various faces of his senior staff as well as Soval and Shran gathered around the conference table. He glanced at Reed and inclined his head. Reed stood and began his report.

"This second attack lends credibility to the Captain's theory that this planet is of strategic importance," Reed surmised. "Meaning that they could intend to colonize the planet and build an outpost from which to launch an attack on nearby systems. If these assumptions are true, then it is likely that the Romulans will continue to return until they have gained possession of the planet. We need to find ways to increase both our offensive and defensive capabilities before they do."

Archer nodded. "Suggestions anyone?"

"If we could rewire several torpedoes, we'd be able ta increase their yield," Trip offered. "We could also add a slightly more potent chemical ta the explosive mixture."

It was one possibility, though not quite what Archer had hoped for. Tinkering with the chemical mixture was potentially dangerous. It had taken Starfleet nearly two decades to come up with the current mixture. The more potent the mixture was, the more sensitive to movement it became. If the potency was increased too greatly, the movement from the storage racks to the torpedo tube could cause it to explode before it was launched.

"A greater focus on defensive strategy would perhaps be more prudent," Reed countered. "We could find a way to wire several key conduits and systems more efficiently and use the extra power to increase the strength of the hull plating." He paused. "Also, there is an experimental defensive method called shielding. Several scientists have written theses on the subject and testing is underway at Starfleet's Technological Development facility. My understanding is that a deflector pulse can be modified to encompass an entire vessel and act as a barrier between the ship and, for example, space debris."

T'Pol arched an eyebrow. "Wouldn't such a barrier draw power from essential ship's systems?"

Reed shook his head. "Not necessarily. The shield would require only a low-power pulse. If we were to rewire several systems to run more efficiently, the extra power from those systems would be enough to create and maintain the shield."

"If this method is experimental, then surely it is highly classified," Soval observed. "How is it that you understand so well what is necessary to create and maintain it?"

Reed's gaze met briefly with Archer's. He then returned his attention to the Vulcan. "I have...erm...friends in high places, Ambassador."

Soval raised a curious eyebrow, but Reed didn't expound upon his vague response. After several moments of tense silence, Archer cleared his throat.

"You say it's...experimental?" Archer queried.

Reed grinned wryly at the skepticism he heard in his Captain's voice. "Yes, sir," he confirmed. "But the testing is in its final stages with only minor kinks to iron out. I'm confident that with Commander Tucker's help, we can resolve any remaining issues."

Archer paused. He was hesitant to rely upon an experimental technology with such an important battle on the horizon, especially considering that Starfleet hadn't approved it yet. However, they weren't left with many options. The last attacks had left Enterprise vulnerable and with an even larger fleet most likely on its way, they needed to not only repair the damage to the ship but also find ways to strengthen their defenses.

"Have T'Pol work with you as well. Assign as many engineering personnel as you need," Archer replied.

"I would also like to offer the assistance of several of my engineers, Captain," Soval added.

Archer glanced at the Ambassador his eyebrows arched slightly in surprise. "Thank you, Ambassador. Your offer is greatly appreciated." He glanced around at his senior staff. "Dismissed."


ENTERPRISE-T'POL'S QUARTERS
APRIL 7
TH, 2156-2236 HOURS

Trip sighed in relief as he felt the tense muscles in his back loosen under T'Pol's tender ministrations. He'd been on his feet since yesterday afternoon trying to bring Enterprise as close to peak operating efficiency as possible for when the Romulans returned with reinforcements.

The ship had sustained heavy damage and would require a couple weeks at Jupiter Station to heal all of the wounds the Romulans had inflicted. Leaving would mean that the Andorian colony would be defenseless in their long absence. Even the Vulcan ship with its superior technology couldn't hold off an entire fleet of enemy ships forever. Without Enterprise, the colony would be destroyed within a week.

Trip sucked in a sharp breath at the brief pain that erupted in the center of his back.

T'Pol arched an eyebrow. "You must know by now the consequences of an improper breathing pattern during these sessions."

He grimaced. "Sorry. I've just got a lot on my mind tonight."

She'd sensed his distress from the moment he'd entered her quarters, but she knew now that he'd purposely blocked the severity of his distraction. She paused. "You may sit up," she whispered.

He did as she requested, expecting her to begin work on the nodes in his neck and shoulders. To his surprise, she pressed her lips to his in a tender, soul-melting kiss that made him forget where they were. She broke the kiss slowly.

He opened his eyes, not aware that he'd closed them. "What was that for?" he asked in a slightly husky tone.

Their gazes locked and her concern reached him through the bond. "The cause of your distraction is the Romulan fleet."

Her mind touched his and he felt her comfort like a hand on his cheek. He sighed, returning the gesture. He looked straight into her gaze and was stunned when a powerful wave of fear filled him. Hers, he realized.

"What happens if we die tomorrow?" he whispered hoarsely, his throat tightening as he voiced his greatest fear.

He felt the panic through the bond and saw the images that filled her mind. He shuddered at the intensity and clarity of them as they consumed him like a waking nightmare. At last, he found the strength to push them away and mentally reached out to T'Pol, crowding out the horrid images with every good memory of their time together he could summon. Slowly, T'Pol relaxed and her breathing evened out.

Her eyes opened and she found herself cradled against his chest as he rocked her gently to soothe her.

Their gazes locked for only a moment before T'Pol looked away. "Now you begin to understand why we suppress our emotions," she whispered.

He swallowed roughly. She'd told him several times that Vulcan emotions were more volatile than Human emotions, but he'd never realized just how much more. He glanced down at the woman in his arms and, with his new understanding, pieced that together with what it would be like to experience that depth of emotion every day of every week of every year. His respect for Vulcan emotional control grew in that moment. He understood why they'd chosen to live without them.

T'Pol drew in a calming breath. Despite how these sessions tore down the walls she built to protect Trip from the strength of her emotions, she found the occasional release somewhat satisfying. As the days went by, she understood more and more what her older self had meant by Trip being an outlet for her emotions.

"T'Pol?" No sooner had she looked up than he'd captured her lips in a tender kiss. He pulled back slowly and their gazes locked. "I know we agreed that we wouldn't make love if either of us had an early shift the next morning...But we could die tomorrow. Can we break the rules just this once?"

A mischievous glint appeared in her eyes. "I suppose the situation does warrant special consideration," she offered. "So long as it doesn't detract from our performance, I see no reason why we can't allow an exception."

Trip didn't waste a moment in removing their garments. Not long after, the two fell into bed wrapped around one another seeking the ultimate pleasure.


ENTERPRISE-MAYWEATHER'S QUARTERS
APRIL 7
TH, 2156-2302 HOURS

Travis lay on his bed staring contemplatively at the ceiling. Suddenly, the young fair-haired woman in his arms stirred. He pressed a gentle kiss to her forehead and their gazes locked.

Liz Cutler smiled weakly. "Crazy night, huh?"

He smiled and ran his fingers through her hair soothingly. "Yeah. Crazy."

Her gaze dropped from his. "We must be out of our minds."

"No," he countered. "We're just lonely."

"And scared," she added.

Travis didn't deny it. He didn't doubt that everyone onboard was together with either a lover or close friends at the moment, if not in passionate embraces then doing anything to avoid the reality of what lay before them.

He cleared his throat. "I'd have thought..."

"That I'd be spending the time with Phlox?" He nodded. She sighed. "Things between us were over a long time ago. He made it very clear that we'd never be more than friends. But I needed this tonight. I needed to feel cherished." She paused. "I'd have thought that you'd be communicating with Kestra."

He shook his head. "I suppose I need more than just words tonight." He sighed. "Besides...we're not together anymore."

She frowned. "What happened?"

He closed his eyes, releasing a ragged breath. "She found someone else."

She could hear the pain in his voice. It reminded her of what she was feeling. "I'm so sorry," she whispered.

He shook his head. "Don't be. I knew it wouldn't last once she returned to Betazed. Her aunt was putting a lot of pressure on her to marry and bear children to inherit her title."

"Why couldn't she marry you?"

He sighed. "She tried to convince her aunt, but only a full-blood Betazoid with money and property would do...and she had to do her duty by her family and her people."

Her heart clenched when she saw the tears gathering in his eyes. He turned away to hide them as they broke free and streamed down his face, but she forced his gaze back to her.

"You don't have to pretend, Travis," she whispered, wiping the tears from his cheeks. "Not with me. I'm hurting, too. We can hurt together."

He laughed weakly. "I thought tonight was supposed to be about enjoying each other's company. Look at me getting all angsty."

"You? Angsty? Never," she countered, her voice laced with sarcasm. She giggled.

He stared at her for several moments, an amused grin spreading across his lips. "It's been so long. I'd forgotten what it's like to just hold someone."

She raised an eyebrow. "As nice as it is to be held, I thought the sex was nice, too."

He chuckled, pressing his lips to hers. "Just nice?" he murmured.

She laughed. "Freakin' fantastic. Better, Mr. Helmsman?"

"Much, Nurse Cutler," he teased.

She giggled as his fingers successfully found the ticklish spot on her right side. "Don't tease," she chastised.

"I'm not," he countered.

Their gazes locked for several moments and the smiles disappeared from their faces to be replaced by pure lust. He pressed his lips roughly to hers, desperately seeking to forget the pain and the fear. Within moments, they were lost in each other and the sensations of being worshipped.


ENTERPRISE-ARMORY
APRIL 7
TH, 2156-2312 HOURS

Malcolm was making the final modifications to the phase cannons, all the while trying to remember the other repairs that needed to be made. He jumped, startled, when he heard the armory doors open and turned abruptly toward them to find Hoshi standing in the doorway wearing her red kimono. She smiled sheepishly and strode toward him.

He frowned. "You should be resting, love."

She arched an eyebrow. "And you shouldn't?" She sighed, wrapping her arms around herself and hugging tightly. "I couldn't sleep."

He grinned wryly. "Nor could I. I suppose I thought work would keep my mind off of..." He trailed off, sighing raggedly.

She nodded solemnly. "I don't think anyone will be getting much sleep tonight."

The two stood in silence for several moments, their unspoken fears hanging like a cloud between them.

Hoshi paused. "Come back to bed, koishii," she pleaded.

He swallowed roughly when he saw the tears forming in her eyes. He mentally cursed his selfishness. Of course she was scared, too. Everyone was. He'd instinctively done what he always did when he was upset: bury himself in his work. He was unaccustomed to having a lover, much less a fiancé and still found it hard not to fall back on his old, selfish habits.

"Perhaps a cup of tea before bedtime?" Malcolm suggested.

She smiled and nodded. He stood and twined his fingers with hers. Glancing back at the phase cannons, he pushed the busy work from his mind and both exited the Armory headed for the Mess Hall.


ROMULAN HOMEWORLD-ORBITING SHIPYARD-VALDORE'S OFFICE
8TH DAY OF RE'T'KHUTAI, YEAR OF THE SET'LETH-18.31 HOURS

Valdore paced to and fro in the small, sterile room that was his office. He was nervous, to say the least. The Praetor had ordered refits on five warbirds with their benefactor's latest technological gift. All had been going to plan until serious malfunctions occurred during the first overall test of the modifications to the ship's systems.

They'd gone through every wire of every junction to discover what had gone wrong only to find markings indicating purposeful sabotage. They'd, of course, caught the traitor; but not before he'd done enough damage to set the refits back a week.

Valdore had pushed his men hard the last couple days to meet the original deadline. They sat on the cusp of at last finishing the repairs for a second test. If they didn't finish soon, the Humans would be able to gather more ships and that would mean a fleet against fleet battle. Despite the added shielding and weapon upgrades, a fleet of Romulan ships wouldn't be able to defeat a fleet of Human ships, especially with the cooperation of the Vulcans and the Andorian, Shran.

It was at that moment that the doors to his office opened and his second in command, Sub-commander Galan entered.

"The report you requested, sir," Galan said, offering Valdore a PADD.

Valdore took the PADD and briefly perused its contents, a smile spreading across his lips. The refits had been completed and were undergoing final testing.

"Excellent, sub-commander," he replied. "Tell Engineer Dhiemm that once the tests have been completed, that he and the others of his team may indulge their appetites and I will take care of the expense."

Galan inclined his head and exited the office to deliver the message.

It was rather early to permit celebration, Valdore thought, but the effort that the men had put in over the last couple of days to refit and repair deserved a reward. His rewards were what kept his crew working at peak efficiency, after all, and if his finances suffered slightly in the short term, it would only increase his earnings in the long term.


SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, EARTH-STARFLEET HEADQUARTERS-STARFLEET MEDICAL CENTER-INTENSIVE CARE UNIT
APRIL 8
TH, 2156-0156 HOURS

A young nurse with dirty blonde hair strode down the corridor, every so often stepping into a room to check on a patient. At the last door, she paused, taking the PADD from its cubby. The first line contained the patient's name: Blackwell, Alexander R.

She shook her head, remembering when they'd brought him in. She'd been on her break sipping coffee and watching her favorite soap opera when she'd been called back from her break early to deal with an emergency situation. Later that day, she'd seen the news broadcast that had revealed the mystery man's identity and the cause of his injuries.

She entered his room with the PADD and approached the machine that displayed his vitals. She recorded them on the PADD for quick reference, and then checked the levels in his fluid bags. His Luminal drip was running low, so she replaced it with a fresh bag and made a note on the PADD of the date and time she'd changed it.

Footsteps echoed in the hallway outside and two of the doctors stepped into the room.

"Any change?" one of them asked.

The nurse shook her head. "None," she replied solemnly.

The two doctors turned to one another and the second doctor spoke. "He shouldn't be kept on the Luminal for more than another four days."

The first doctor nodded in agreement. "Overall, it's not looking good. With the severity of his head trauma, it's possible that he will awaken with severe brain damage and will be a vegetable."

The second doctor sighed. "Despite all of the medical advances we've made in the last century..."

"We could easily use stem cells to develop a new brain, but that could take weeks or months," the first doctor offered. "Even if we could keep his body alive that long, we still haven't perfected the technology to transfer his memories and knowledge to the new brain. He'd be starting with a blank slate. He'd be like a newborn babe learning to make its way around in the world."

"Still, we have to give the family the choice," the second doctor added.

Both nodded and turned to the nurse. "Carry on." They then exited the room.

The nurse turned to the older man lying on the biobed and felt overwhelming sympathy for the man's family. He wasn't so old that he didn't have a good half-century or so left. She smiled. Even in his weakened state, she could see why he'd made it so far up the chain of command at Starfleet Headquarters. He was no doubt a strong man with a strong sense of duty. His fate seemed far crueler than any human being deserved.

Forcing her thoughts away from the man's fate, she exited the room and slid the PADD back into the cubbyhole, moving on to her next patient.


ENTERPRISE-ENGINEERING
APRIL 8
TH, 2156-0732 HOURS

Anna Hess sighed, massaging her temples as she once again explained to the Vulcan which conduits needed to be rewired and which wires needed to be connected where in order to achieve the desired result. The man stared at her throughout her lecture with barely veiled disgust. Her lips tightened and it took all of the control she had not to punch him in the nose. It was beyond infuriating that the man thought her so incapable. She wasn't the Chief Engineer, but she knew this ship just as well as Trip did.

"Preposterous," the Vulcan man replied, his gaze narrowing. "Such a rewiring would only cause malfunction and disarray."

The anger in her eyes plain, she opened her mouth to reply when she felt a hand on her shoulder. She turned, startled to find Trip behind her.

"On a Vulcan ship, maybe," Trip countered, his gaze locked with the man's. "But Enterprise's conduits and wiring are different. We've done extensive simulations, sub-lieutenant. I assure you that this is the best way."

The man's lips tightened and without another word, the man turned on his heel and moved to collect the necessary equipment.

Hess stared at him, awed. "How did you do that? You didn't say anything different than I've been telling him for the last hour."

Trip smiled and clapped her on the shoulder. "Don't let 'em see that you're upset, Anna. It only makes 'em think that you're defending your solution because you feel you're right not because it's the best one...logic and all that."

He then continued his on his rounds, stopping by each team and asking for a progress report. Hess paused, her brows furrowed in thought. His explanation made a good deal of sense. She smiled. When had he become so zen and wise? Chuckling, she decided that Commander T'Pol's influence must have been doing more for him than she thought.


ENTERPRISE-SICKBAY
APRIL 8
TH, 2156-0741 HOURS

Despite her determination not to allow herself to hope again, her actions the night before only made working with Phlox more awkward. She'd caught him glancing at her several times that morning. Was he feeling regret for not having asked her to stay? She shook the foolish thought from her head. He was probably just worried about her given that she'd scarcely spoken four words to him since her arrival an hour ago.

Stocking Sickbay in preparation for the injured crew that would no doubt pour in after the battle had helped focus her erratic, anxious thoughts. Travis had crept in on the edges of her daydreams for the last hour and she found herself wanting more.

Her cheeks flushed as she realized she was lusting after the young, fantastically fit helmsman. Reserved and shy men weren't her usual quarry, but her and Travis's shared loneliness had revealed a different side of him last night.

Her dedication to her career hadn't ever left much time for harmless flirtations. But last night there'd been no expectations of a tomorrow and for the first time she'd felt free to be herself. His kisses and caresses had made her feel alive. She longed to feel that way again.

"Elizabeth, are you all right?"

Phlox's query startled her and she nearly dropped the box of hypos she was holding. Fortunately, she saved the box before it tipped. She sighed in relief. "Don't sneak up on me like that."

Phlox shrugged nonchalantly. "I would hardly call it sneaking. I made myself quite noticeable."

Cutler froze. "How long were you there?"

He chuckled. "Long enough. Who's the lucky man?"

Her cheeks burned in embarrassment. "Is it that obvious?"

"Perhaps only to an old Denobulan romantic who spends far too much of his time observing Human behavior patterns," he replied with a grin.

She opened her mouth to reply, but at that moment the Sickbay doors opened to reveal Travis. Her gaze broke from Phlox's and she turned, offering the new arrival a wane smile. She noted the curious expression on Phlox's face and knew she'd been caught.

Phlox moved toward his office with the excuse of finishing a letter to a colleague, leaving Liz with her patient.

"What can I do for you, sir?" she asked, approaching the bed Travis had hoisted himself up onto.

He massaged his temples, a grimace crossing his lips. "Got anything for a migraine?"

She nodded and moved to get an acetaminophen hypo. Moments later, she returned and pressed it to his neck. Travis sighed in relief as the medication took effect almost immediately.

"Come back in another six hours if the migraine is still bothering you," she said, adding the details of the visit to a PADD containing his medical record. She turned to walk away only to have his hand catch her arm.

"I-I had fun last night. Do you want to come to my quarters tonight after-?"

After we battle an entire fleet of Romulan ships, if we survive that is? She grimaced at the morbid nature of the thought, but from the look in his eyes she knew he was thinking the same thing.

She forced a weak smile onto her face and nodded. "I'd like that." He flashed a wide smile at her and she almost forgot why she was so afraid.


ENTERPRISE-BRIDGE
APRIL 8
TH, 2156-1209 HOURS

Archer sat in the captain's chair massaging his temples. The lack of sleep and a throbbing head made the wait far worse. His stomach churned and the thought of consuming anything only added to his nausea. He inhaled and exhaled slowly several times, attempting to direct his focus away from the symptoms.

"Anything, Lieutenant?" Archer queried.

Reed sighed heavily. "No, sir. No sign of any enemy vessels on short or long range scanners."

"I'm not picking up any subspace radio chatter either," Hoshi added.

T'Pol arched an eyebrow as she observed her commanding officer's distress at the news. She recognized the symptoms well, as she had seen such behavior many times in the Delphic Expanse.

"Captain, may I speak with you in your ready room?" she inquired.

Archer frowned at the unexpected request, but agreed nonetheless. He stood and moved toward the ready room with T'Pol following closely behind.


ENTERPRISE-READY ROOM
APRIL 8
TH, 2156-1213 HOURS

Once the doors had closed behind them, Archer slid into the chair behind his desk then looking, waiting for the lecture that he was certain his science officer and second in command was sure to give him about the importance of a good night's sleep.

T'Pol allowed herself a moment's thought before proceeding. "I am concerned for you, Jonathan, as are Lieutenant Reed and Ensigns Sato and Mayweather." Archer grunted, indicating that he understood and for her to continue. "Your insomnia in this instance is understandable; however, it is in the best interests of this ship and her crew that you are rested and in a good frame of mind to make decisions."

He grinned wryly. "I see where this is going and I appreciate your concern. But I won't rest easy until this is over."

T'Pol arched an eyebrow. "Again, understandable. Yet I must insist that you see Phlox about your headache. I also assume, knowing your behaviors as I do, that you have not eaten in some time. Perhaps you should acquire a bowl of plomeek broth from Chef. I find that it reduces nausea." Archer parted his lips to argue, but T'Pol spoke before him. "Should they appear while you are not on the bridge, I will notify you immediately."

Archer shook his head, a wane smile crossing his lips. "Logical. How can I argue with that?" He stood and laid a hand on her shoulder. "Thanks."

Without another word, he left the ready room.


ENTERPRISE-SICKBAY
April 8
th, 2156-1321 HOURS

Archer entered sickbay massaging his throbbing temples. He grimaced as the throbbing grew gradually worse.

"Headache, sir?"

Liz Cutler stood in front of him with a hypo already in hand. He nodded and she pressed it to his neck, the medicine entering through the tiny puncture with a hiss. His headache immediately began to fade and he sighed in relief.

"A lot of people have come in complaining of migraines and nausea," she continued. "Most of them also hadn't eaten or slept in a few days."

Archer grunted. "I guess I'm not the only one who had a rough night, then."

She nodded. "All I can recommend, sir, is that you get something in your stomach. That'll keep your headache from coming back as strongly, will restore your energy levels and will cure your nausea."

"You don't have anything for the nausea?"

"I do," she replied. "But I think that food would be better for your system in the long run."

As Archer was about to reply, a violent shudder ran through the deck and the room tilted to one side, catching him off guard. He was tossed to the floor, landing hard on his back. With a groan of pain, he sat up slightly just as another shudder rocked the deck.

Cutler lost her balance and with a shout of surprise went tumbling to the deck. Archer's hand shot out just as her head was nearing the deck. The cushion his hand provided softened the blow. He pressed his lips tightly together to keep from shouting as pain coursed through his hand. As soon as Cutler had regained her shattered senses, she rolled off of Archer's hand and felt it carefully for broken bones.

"Captain Archer to the Bridge," came T'Pol's voice over the ship's comm system.

Archer grunted in annoyance when Cutler rose and hurried toward the cabinet where the scanning equipment was stored. "I have to get to the bridge," he protested, his voice thick with pain.

He stumbled to his feet, careful to avoid putting pressure on his throbbing hand. Cutler grabbed his uninjured arm and dragged him toward the nearest biobed.

"I don't have time! I have to get to the bridge!" he shouted.

Cutler shook her head boldly and began to scan his injury. "No, sir. You're not going anywhere until I take care of this injury."

Archer stiffened and tried to jerk his injured hand from her grip, but she held firm. She looked into his eyes, her expression defiant. "Your hand could be broken. Commander T'Pol is perfectly capable of dealing with the situation until I can assess the damage to your hand."

She wasted no time in reviewing the scans and quickly diagnosed a moderate fracture in his wrist. Grabbing a newly-released portable healing device, she passed it over Archer's wrist several times. Within moments, the pain was gone and the injury was healed.

Archer nodded his thanks before hurrying from Sickbay toward the bridge.


ENTERPRISE-BRIDGE
APRIL 8
TH, 2156-1359 HOURS

Archer strode toward the chair at the center of the bridge, gripping it for support as another deep tremble rocked the ship. "Report!" he called out.

"Shields are down to 32 percent," Reed shouted. "We've lost two of the rear phase canons."

"Hoshi, send out a top priority distress signal!"

Hoshi grimaced in frustration. "I'm trying but they're blocking all subspace communications."

Archer turned to Reed. "Get those shields back up!"

"Rerouting emergency power to the shields," Reed replied. Several moments later, the lights on the bridge dimmed slightly. "Shields back at 61 percent."

"Hoshi!" Archer shouted.

Hoshi grunted in annoyance. "I can't break through!"

Archer's heart raced. If they couldn't signal for reinforcements, they didn't stand a chance.


ENTERPRISE-ENGINEERING
APRIL 8
TH, 2156-1403 HOURS

Engineering was chaos as everyone darted back and forth attempting to protect the warp core from the surges passing through the conduits. If this kept up, they'd have to shut down the core down to prevent a breach leaving them sitting ducks.

"Commander!"

He turned. Hess was on the ground clutching her stomach, a pained grimace on her face. Fearing the worst, he hurried toward her and dropped to her side. A nearby conduit exploded and he brought up a hand to shield eyes. After the sparks faded, he returned his attention to Hess.

"What happened?" he shouted.

The two men beside her shook their heads. Hess let out a cry of pain, releasing several short breaths. When the pain had passed she spoke. "The baby," she groaned. "It's coming."

Trip's eyes widened in panic. He turned to the two men. "Rostov, get her to Sickbay!"

"No!" she shouted, grabbing his arm. "Where's Ethan? He can take me."

He laid a hand on her shoulder. "It's going ta be all right, Anna. I'll find him and send him straight there."

She nodded reluctantly and Rostov lifted her into his arms making a break for Sickbay.

Trip turned to the other man. "Go with him in case he needs help," he ordered.

The man nodded and exited Engineering. Trip watched for a moment before sighing and diving back into the melee.


ENTERPRISE-BRIDGE
APRIL 8
TH, 2156-1405 HOURS

A jolt ran through the deck causing it to creak loudly from the stress. Archer was nearly thrown from his chair by the impact.

"We're down to impulse!" Reed shouted.

Archer cursed. Without warp, they were an easy target. "Archer to Engineering."

Static.

"Archer to Engineering! Can anyone hear me!"

A moment later, Trip's voice came through the comm. "Tucker. Go ahead, Cap'n."

"We need warp drive, Commander! Now!"

"I'm workin' on it! Tucker out!"


VULCAN SHIP SH'RAAN-BRIDGE
8
TH DAY OF RE'T'KHUTAI, YEAR OF THE SET'LETH -14.05 HOURS

Soval gripped the handrests of his seat tightly as the ship was rocked from side to side by blast after blast. "Have you had any success with sending a distress signal, sub-lieutenant?"

The Vulcan female looked up from her work. Etched into her normally soft features were the signs of the stress she'd endured. Her hair was dark like most of those of her race and shaped like a bowl atop her head.

Her deep blue eyes, so unusual for a Vulcan, almost seemed empty as she replied coolly, "No, I have not. The Rihannsu persist in blocking all attempts at exterior communications."

The entire bridge crew gripped the nearest stable object as the helmswoman performed what the humans called a barrel-roll maneuver. The hull creaked from the stress as the ship tumbled end over end in a full 360 degree spin.

He inclined his head. "Continue your attempts, sub-lieutenant." He then turned to his weapons officer. "Have your attempts to uncover the Rihannsu ships' weakness prevailed, sub-commander?"

The man looked up from the readouts coming in to his station. His hair was shorter than that of his female counterpart and his features were rough as though he'd just endured Kans Wan. "I believe that I have nearly located a flaw in the plating on the underside of their vessel. I will need but another few moments."

A console exploded near the communications and the sub-lieutenant dropped to the ground to avoid the sparks. Once the sparks had died, she jumped to her feet and returned her attention to the console in front of her.

"Hull stress is reaching critical limits," the sub-commander from weapons reported. "Breaches on decks two and three."

"Evacuate all personnel from those decks and seal them off," Soval ordered.

The sub-commander nodded. A few moments later, he replied, "I have also found the fault in their hull. The target is locked and weapons are ready."

"Fire."

All five particle beams and a photonic weapon struck their target, causing the ship to explode in bright flare.

The sub-lieutenant at communications looked up from her station, an eyebrow arched in interest. "The signal blocking communications has been weakened significantly. I believe I may now be able to communicate with the Human ship."

Soval nodded. "Send them the information regarding the Rihannsu ships' weakness. This will no doubt assist in their attempts."

The sub-lieutenant nodded.


ENTERPRISE-BRIDGE

APRIL 8TH, 2156-1414 HOURS

"They've blown out the port nacelle!" Reed shouted over several blaring alarms. "Phase cannons are offline!"

Archer opened his mouth to reply when Hoshi cut in. "I'm receiving an encrypted message from the Sh'Ran! They've found a weakness in the Romulan hull!"

Archer sighed in relief. "Malcolm, target the coordinates and fire with everything we've got left!"

Travis resisted the urge to whoop in victory when two of the ships exploded in brilliant balls of fire.

Despite Reed's superb targeting, they still had two ships on their tail that they couldn't shake. They needed to be in just the right place if they were going to have a clear shot at the coordinates. Smoke began to fill the bridge as Travis tried every maneuver he could think of to give them the advantage.

Travis shook his head. "I can't shake them, sir!"

"Keep trying, Travis!" Archer replied. "We'll eventually catch them offguard."

"I'm detecting another ship approaching," Reed reported urgently.

Archer swallowed roughly, fearing that the Romulans had managed to call for reinforcements.

"Sir, it's Columbia!"

Archer breathed a sigh of relief. "Hoshi, send them the same message the Sh'Ran sent us. That should even the odds."

Enterprise took another hit and the bridge lighting faded, the intensity of the blast sending Reed careening into a nearby wall. Just as Archer was about to call Sickbay, the Lieutenant jumped to his feet clutching his right arm to his chest and weaved back to his post.

"Malcolm?" Archer barked.

"I'm fine, sir," Reed replied, focusing his attention back on the screen before him. "Four of the enemy ships have been destroyed and the two remaining ships are retreating on impulse power."


ENTERPRISE-SICKBAY

APRIL 8TH, 2156-1427 HOURS

 

Hess gritted her teeth, grasping Ethan's hand tightly as she struggled through the contraction.

"You're nearly there, sweetie," he whispered, brushing the wet hair back from her forehead. "Just hold on."

"God, it hurts!" Hess screamed.

Phlox checked the readings on the biosigns monitor, which indicated that neither mother nor child were presently in danger. "You're dilated 8 centimeters, Lieutenant. At this rate, you'll be fully dilated in ten minutes."

Cutler took Phlox's place as he moved to check on another patient. "Breathe, Anna. Nice, deep breaths. Hee hee hoo."

The doors to Sickbay opened and a greasy Trip entered supporting a crewman who hopped along on one foot. He helped the crewman to the nearest unoccupied biobed.

"How's Anna doing?" Trip called to Novakavitch.

"She's nearly there," Novakavitch replied.

Hess screamed as another powerful contraction hit her. "I'm never letting you touch me again, you bastard! As long as I live, you're never touching me again."

The young man beside her paled. "Shh. It'll be okay, sweetheart. I'm here. It'll be okay."

Phlox then moved to check on the young crewman Trip had helped in and began scanning the lad's ankle and lower leg.

Trip's lips tightened as he fought his churning stomach. He couldn't even imagine how Novakavitch was feeling, but the thought of Hess in that much pain was enough to make him nauseous.

"You're fully dilated, Anna! Now push!" Cutler commanded.

Hess screamed breathlessly as she pushed with all her might. Sweat covered her forehead, causing blonde hairs to stick to her face. Novakavitch brushed them aside and kissed her forehead. "You're doing great, sweetie."

"Again!" Cutler shouted.

Hess gritted her teeth and squeezed Novakavitch's hand as hard as she could. A moment later, she collapsed back on the bed gasping for breath.

Cutler smiled. "The baby's head is out. You're almost there. One more big push, Anna."

"I can't," Hess moaned weakly.

"Yes, you can! Now push!"

Hess tensed as she pushed with all her strength. Cutler frowned as she noted Hess floating in and out of consciousness. The intense labor was taking its toll. Just when Cutler feared Hess would pass out, the baby slid the rest of the way out and into her waiting hands. She turned the baby over and tapped its buttocks several times. At last, a weak wail pierced the air and grew stronger.

Hess collapsed back against the bed and the biosigns equipment beeped several times in warning.

Cutler looked up immediately, noting low blood pressure. She motioned to Novakavitch to cut the cord and handed him a pair of surgical scissors. Within moments, she moved to clean the infant up and wrapped it in a pink blanket. "It's a girl," she shouted.

As Cutler moved away from Hess, Phlox moved to examine her. "She's merely weak and dehydrated from both lack of fluids and the stress of her labor. Elizabeth, she will need intravenous fluid and electrolyte replacement."

"Is she going ta be okay?" Trip asked as Cutler laid the baby in her bed and moved to administer the fluid IV, poking the IV into Hess's arm. Once the monitor indicated the fluids were being pumped into her arm, Cutler returned to examining the baby.

"Birth weight is 8 pounds, 2 ounces; birth height 23 inches," Cutler called out happily as she recorded the information on a PADD. "Perfectly healthy."

Phlox nodded. "Certainly. Once her system rests and begins to recover, she will be perfectly all right."


ENTERPRISE-BRIDGE
APRIL 8
TH, 2156-1433 HOURS

Archer's gaze snapped to Hoshi and she had the channel open before he could even give the command. He then turned his attention to the viewscreen.

"Last I heard, you were helping to repair a Tellarite outpost," he stated.

Erika's smiling face appeared on the screen and Reed grinned when he noticed the look of adoration on his captain's face.

"We snuck away," she replied with an impish grin. "On the way, we made contact with the Challenger, Swiftfire and Dauntless. Besides, two ships against six isn't exactly a fair fight. I figured we'd even the odds a little."

Archer frowned. "How'd you know about-?"

Erika chuckled. "I have my sources."

"Not that I don't appreciate the extra help," he added quickly.

Erika sombered. "How many?"

"Dozens," Archer replied with a grimace. "Including two of Shran's three mates."

She nodded. "I'll be sure to offer him my condolences."

There was a tense silence. "Perhaps you should come aboard so that I can brief you on the situation thus far."

"Agreed," she answered. "My shuttle will dock with Enterprise in ten minutes."

The screen went blank and Archer entered his ready room.


CAPTAIN'S LOG
APRIL 11
TH, 2156

It's been three days since the last attack and there's no sign of any Romulan vessels on long range scanners. Starfleet has ordered us to return to Jupiter Station for repairs. In the meanwhile, we've set up a sensor grid that should allow the inhabitants of Gamma Virginis to detect any spacecraft attempting to enter the system. Also, the Sh'Ran and the SS Vulture will remain behind should the Romulans decide to stir up any more trouble. Ambassador Soval, Shran and Jhamel, however, have elected to return with us to Earth in hopes of helping convince the Andorian government to rejoin the Alliance.


ENTERPRISE-ARCHER'S READY ROOM
APRIL 11
TH, 2156-1502 HOURS

Archer paced the small width of his ready room. With the Gamma Virginis matter neatly resolved and the fleets' two best ships headed home for repairs, there was at last time for him and Erika to truly talk. He glanced up at the sound of the door chime. "Enter," he called.

The doors slid open and Erika stepped over the threshold with a baffled expression on her face. The moment the doors closed, he stood and strode quickly toward her, then pressing his lips to hers in a demanding kiss. A few moments later, he pulled back to take in the sight of her.

"What was that for?" she whispered.

"I had a lot of time to think last night." He smiled. "The next time we're on Earth let's get married."

She stared at him, stunned. "Jon-"

"I recall asking and I recall you saying yes," he teased.

"I did, but-" She paused.

Their miscarried child. Archer hadn't realized himself until last night the rift that their loss had created. He took her hands in his.

"It doesn't matter, Erika," he replied in response to her hesitation. "I only want you."

Tears prickled the corners of her eyes and she threw her arms around his neck, hugging him tightly. For the first time, she allowed herself to truly mourn their loss. In that moment, she understood. Life was too short to waste time.

"You're right," she whispered. "We'll plan a small ceremony and get married."

 

 

 


Comments:

FireWolfe

This is a wonderful story. I like it a lot.:)

Silverbullet

Nice story, nice ending.  You got everybody in it.

Good to see a well written  story like this.

Aikiweezie

Well done.  You've got everything in here, battles, love stories, suspence, live & death stuff etc. 

Asso

This story is what I'm searching for. It narrates of great epics intertwined with personal issues, of how people must deal with tragedy and of soft feelings which are the life's thread and support.
And Trip and T'Polare a part of all this, and their love enlightens everything.
Really beautiful.
Really well done.

Linda

I'm not sure if I have read the last chapter, thought this was a standalone story as I didn't see the chapter list insert where you could choose a chapter.  It is an exciting story, but I am missing a lot of the background. 

I like your technological discussion forshadowing sheilds.  And I like that you include other couples besides Trip and T'Pol.  Glad to see the Vulcans fighting in the Romulan War, like Transwarp also has.  It never made sense to me that they would not.  It was a rather abrupt change from the last Arpil 8 scene to the April 11th.  Columbia arrived, but did she do any fighting or did the Romulans just leave? How many Romulan ships were there in that battle?  If you had that in there - sorry I missed it.  I'm kinda tired at the moment. :s  

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