Hope

By Eireann

Rating: PG

Genres: angst

Keywords: Baby Elizabeth Tucker

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Disclaimer: Star Trek (plus all its intellectual property) is owned by Paramount.  No infringement intended. 

Rating: PG

Genre: Drama, tragedy

Summary: In the struggle to save baby Elizabeth, an extraordinary expert’s services are called upon.

Author’s Note: Dedicated to Rosa, who gave me the idea for it.

Beta’d by Distracted, to whom all due thanks as always.

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“Soong.”

The name was whispered down the corridors, so quietly that a falling snowflake would have made more noise. The name conjured up so much: memories that were better forgotten, memories of a madman who wanted to play God with the human race and had conjured up devils instead.  But this madman was a genius of a calibre far beyond most of his fellows; one who had delved further than anyone else living into the mysteries of genetics, the same mysteries that had produced the child now dying before her parents’ eyes in Sickbay, so that their anguish penetrated every corner of the ship and hung over it like a pall. The whispers said that Archer had pulled strings, had called in every favour that was owed him and some that weren’t. They said that the ship’s crew who had bought Earth’s survival with their efforts deserved some extraordinary gesture in return. 

The ship’s tactical officer wore a worried frown and was even more taciturn than usual. When a small and nondescript Starfleet shuttle slipped up to dock with Enterprise he summoned four members of his own team and six MACOs to meet whoever was on board, escorting the unannounced arrival swiftly and with a minimum of fuss to the realm of the Denobulan MO.  The MACOs remained outside the doors, but he and his team vanished silently back into the shadows, doubtless to keep watch elsewhere.  It was noticeable that Corporal McKenzie had stationed the remainder of her MACOs at key positions around the ship, where they waited, calm but alert, for whatever might happen.

Madman or genius or both, Arik Soong did not lack humanity.  His eyes softened visibly as he gazed into the incubator where baby Elizabeth clung on to life by a thread that grew thinner every hour. During the journey from the maximum security facility where he’d been confined since being recaptured by the people who now surrounded him, he’d been given access to every detail that could be gleaned about the process by which the infant had been created.  He’d even been given a specially modified PADD on which to work, and that, for a man who was hardly trusted with a ream of paper, was a gesture whose desperate munificence was hardly likely to escape him.  Needless to say, he’d run a lightning-swift check to see whether any line of communication was open to him. He was neither surprised nor disappointed to find that none was.  Not even the most forgiving of his captors would trust him that far.  But they’d been right in thinking that a challenge of this magnitude would be one he’d be incapable of refusing.  He was so intrigued by it, indeed, that it was questionable whether he’d have made a run for it even if he’d been given the chance.

He wouldn’t be given the chance.  The implacable gray eyes into which he’d stared as he entered the ship told him that.  But there were too many memories of the helpless Augment children he’d created, who had grown and matured and finally proven to him that every one of humanity’s strengths was a vice in disguise, so that he’d turned in despair and indefatigable hope to the creation of a life form immune to the temptations of super-humanity, as humans themselves were not. 

But this child was not that hoped for creation. Some would call her a miracle, others a monstrosity created to foment hatred and distrust.  He was acutely aware of her biological parents, who had risen simultaneously at his entry and were now standing watching him, begging mutely for him to prove himself stronger than fate.  The Vulcan was the more composed of the two, but even she was steel-taut, that beautiful face struggling for self-control.  The human obviously felt no such compulsion. If he was controlled it was because he was trying to be strong for both of them.  His soul was naked in his eyes, and a thousand questions stood on his tongue, of which only one mattered.

Can you save her?

Somehow he hadn't expected the baby to be beautiful.  The tiny pointed ears were like delicate, perfect shells, the infinitely fine upswept eyebrows hardly more than suggested on the small sleeping face.

The ship’s doctor was standing behind the incubator.  Beside an intellect like Soong’s his was no more than average. How wonderful it would have been if just for once his conclusions could have been found to be wrong.  The rather eerie blue eyes saw far too much, however.  The low light did not hide the welling up, though he blinked it resolutely away.

Nevertheless, they tried.  Every blind avenue, every hopeless modification, every remedy that could not stay the inevitable, while little Elizabeth’s breathing grew slower and shallower and the two silent sentinels at her incubator watched her seconds slipping away, one by one, into history.

The time came when every possibility, however remote, had been exhausted.  To prolong the struggle further was only to prolong a useless hope.  It was time to allow the parents peace to come to terms, as best they could, with the inescapable truth.

Their daughter was going to die.

The death of their last remaining hopes, however, was a blow so personal that only a friend should inflict it.  Soong admitted defeat at last with a tiny shake of the head and drew back a little into the shadows.  It would have been better, perhaps, if he had not been summoned, but those who had done so hadn't known that at the time.  There had always been the chance – that faint, treacherous chance – that he could work a miracle.  And as a parent himself (at however strange a remove), he knew that he too would have grasped at any straw, however frail, in the struggle to save one of his Augments.

His failure here gouged the wounds of their deaths open again.  It was hardly a similar case – they had been the agents of their own defeat and eventual demise, whereas this child had done nothing save be conceived – but he’d reared them and loved them, and he knew all too well the agony of loss.  He averted his eyes from a moment that could be nothing but shattering for the human and the Vulcan, but he couldn’t shut his ears to the Denobulan’s gentle, pitying murmur.

“T’Pol.  Trip.  I’m so sorry.”

“And so am I,” Soong told them. Phlox didn’t deserve to shoulder all the blame for the failure.  If anything, the lion’s share was his.  He was the one who was supposed to have been able to work miracles.

“Thank you for tryin’, Docs.”  The father – Trip – had taken the blow quietly, but his eyes were shining with unshed tears.  “If you don’t mind, we’d...”

He couldn’t finish the sentence, but his meaning was obvious.  They would want privacy for the last few minutes.  The baby’s breathing was growing so difficult now that it was unlikely she’d survive for long.

Sickbay had a small separate room for use at need.  The two doctors stepped into it.

“I’m sorry, Doctor Soong.  I have extremely specific orders.  I have to inform Security immediately once your presence is no longer required.”  Phlox looked absurdly embarrassed by this obvious precaution.  He stepped to the comm link.  “Sickbay to Lieutenant Reed.”

“Reed here.”

“Doctor Soong has completed his work on board ship.  Please collect him from the auxiliary room door as soon as possible.”

“I understand, Doctor.  Reed out.”

The link closed.  The silence was heavier than despair.

Phlox broke it; it was unlikely that they would be granted much time for the formalities.

“I must thank you, Doctor Soong, for agreeing to come here.  I am sure nobody could have done more to try to save her.”

Soong shrugged, trying to conceal his genuine sorrow.  “Maybe with more time I could have.  And from here on in I’ll have plenty of that. Maybe one day I’ll come across something that will save some other baby.  Not that anyone will ever read it,” he added a little bitterly. 

“I’d like to think your efforts won’t all be wasted,” said the Denobulan gently. 

He handed over the PADD.  He wouldn’t be allowed to keep it, and there was material on it that might be helpful in other, less hopeless situations.  At a guess the hard-faced Head of Security would take it from him and throw it out of the nearest airlock, so it was better to hand it over freely than have it demanded of him.  “If you’re allowed to look through that, you may find it useful.”

“I’m sure Captain Archer will trust my discretion.”  Phlox pocketed the PADD.  “I will mention it to Lieutenant Reed, if he asks.”

As though conjured up by the mention of his name, the door hissed open to reveal the man in question, flanked by the same escort as before.

“The shuttle’s ready, Doctor.”  He was speaking to the prisoner, but his gaze went to the other doctor, with a question in it.  He evidently received the answer, for something in his face that was not quite hope flickered and died, so that he looked grimmer than ever.

“Thank you, Lieutenant.”  The ship’s MO extended his hand, a gesture that for a Denobulan was far more significant than for a human.  “Someday, Doctor Soong, I believe your work will be of enormous benefit to Starfleet.”

“Prescience, Doctor Phlox?”  A faint smile.  He took the offered hand.

“Call it – an educated guess.”

“Let’s hope you’re right.  Goodbye.”

He left Sickbay and was escorted rapidly and in silence back down the corridors.  All too soon they were back at the airlock where the shuttle waited. Cautious as ever, the lieutenant exchanged prearranged codes with the shuttle crew to make sure that the situation was unchanged before he activated the door control.  The connecting door hissed open.

“Thank you for trying, Doctor.” The gruff, unexpected words followed him through. 

He glanced backwards.  At a guess there was a deep friendship between this man and one or both of the child’s parents, for the signs of grief were now unmistakable.

Grief.  Another burden of humanity of which his dream would be free, if ever it came to fruition.

The airlock disengaged, and the shuttle parted from the starship, taking him back towards captivity and his dreams.

 

The End


Comments:

Mary


Eireann. This was beautifully written.. The hope was tangible, concrete if for only moments. You captured their pain and desperation so acurately, I could "feel" the sadness. You showed a wonderfully tender side to Soong that was only hinted at  before. A masterful piece of sentiment!

Linda

Wow.  Soft, quiet, touching.

Transwarp

I was struck by Soong's initial reaction to Elizabeth:

    Somehow he hadn't expected the baby to be beautiful.  The tiny pointed ears were like delicate, perfect shells, the infinitely fine upswept eyebrows hardly more than suggested on the small sleeping face.

To me, this single paragraph brings Dr. Soong fully to life.  Beautifully written!

Cogito

The image of the 'anguish penetrating every corner of the ship' is beautifully poignant, and shows a depth to their distress that was barely hinted at in the original show.

Soong is a character that we're obvious supposed to dislike, and it's a testament to Brent's acting abiity that he managed to portray the character so convincingly, so it's something of a surprise to have an insight into his character that shows a very human side to him, well hidden behind the ascerbic comments and snide remarks. The dichotomy of the closing line was also a surprise but on reflection makes perfect sense: you'd think that he'd dream of freedom, but his incarceration hasn't really changed his dreams at all.

Hummingbird2

You did a beautiful job here, and it's quite plausible that Soong would be the one they turn to for help.

Thank you very much!

Weeble

Ouch, I heldbout hope for a miracle, none came...

 

Beautifully written though

Asso

Poetry.

Lt. Zoe Jebkanto

Compassionate, wistful perspective.  Soong as more hu-man than mad-man.  I'm with Alelou- a rich connection to TNG Thank you!

panyasan

Very good! I liked how you stayed perfecty with Soong's POV and how you stil managed to let the other persons in this story (Trip, T'Pol, Phlox, Reed) come to live. I also enjoyed your almost poetic way of telling a story. Great work. 

Alelou

Okay, I cheated by reading this one before my current backlog of fic to read, but it was promised to be short!  It's beautiful, if sad, and really quite plausible, and provides as nice a connection to TNG as I've ever seen in fanfic. Thank you!

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