When Humans Attack

By MaryContrary

Rating: PG

Genres: humour

Keywords:

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Summary: T'Pol had been forced to endure many things since joining the Enterprise, but she never thought she'd witness their descent into madness, never thought she'd be fighting for her life against the very Humans she'd associated herself with.

Disclaimer: The characters and setting of Star Trek and all related intellectual property are indisputably owned by Paramount.

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They'd touched down on Ctari VI hours ago, and had spent six hours so far exploring the long abandoned settlement on the outskirts of the larger, and presumably more dangerous, urban center several kilometers away. T'Pol found the dry heat quite comfortable, but the Humans in attendance did not. They'd complained about it often and consistently so far, even jokingly commiserating with the inhabitants of the planet who'd long since abandoned the world. Whatever the strange stellar phenomenon had been that had caused the local planet-wide temperatures to slowly escalate until the people of Ctari VI had eventually fled; the Humans enjoyed some humor and took some comfort in sympathizing with them.

"God, it's like getting baked alive in a big planet-sized oven." Trip said at one point. "No wonder these people just up and left."

That was somewhat disagreeable for a variety of reasons.

First, and least importantly, she found the temperature quite comfortable, even to the extent of electing to don the thinner Starfleet issued excursion uniform in order to participate in this expedition rather than any of her normally very well thermally insulated suits. The environment was quite agreeable to her. But it illustrated certain stark differences between herself and the rest of the crew which she preferred not to have illustrated so sharply at times.

Second, and more importantly, the people of this planet had not 'just up and left'. This was the entire point of their exploration. The vast majority of the Ctarians had resettled elsewhere, but a small portion had proven stubborn, staying on to attempt to wait it out, hoping something would change. From what the landing party had been able to gather so far here, there had at least been some indication the Ctarians had expected it would. Many theories had been bandied about in their media suggesting the phenomenon might reverse itself. None of them very well grounded in science, and all of them were quite obviously illogical rationalizations. Very poor rationalizations.

But that had been quite enough for many of the people who found relocating and the dangers of open space not preferable to retaining their home world. They'd elected to stay - refused, in fact, to leave even when strongly encouraged to do so by their respective governments. What became of those people, whether they eventually met their end here or, more likely, finally were forced to relocate as well, that is what the Enterprise had been ordered to determine.

The most disagreeable point she found herself considering, as she bore witness to the Human's unique ability to empathize even with others who were not physically present, was that the situation illustrated the mentality of emotional species, specifically that part of such an emotionally undisciplined mentality that was self-destructive, inefficient, and counter-productive.

She was not comfortable with the Humans in attendance so aptly empathizing with the Ctarians. The Ctarians had proven remarkably illogical, even to the point of risking self destruction. It would have been perfectly logical to relocate and abandon the planet, perhaps establishing a research center somewhere in the system if retaining their home world were found to be that important to them. But so many of the original inhabitants electing to stay under conditions even the Humans found intolerable clearly illustrated the inferior and frankly dangerous tendency of species like the Humans toward emotional decision making.

It was a form of madness, in fact; she was quite sure.

She could easily imagine the Humans doing much the same had this phenomenon occurred in the Sol system, to Earth, and could just as easily imagine a Vulcan crew being assigned, centuries later, to visit the abandoned Earth and investigate, attempting to uncover what had happened to those Humans who'd so illogically and…yes, insanely…refused to relocate. She had no doubt the Humans would react as illogically as the Ctarians had in a similar situation.

She found that very disturbing.

Musing upon these things, she nevertheless divided her attentions between that and scanning the building they now occupied: scanning, collating information, and determining the most likely purpose and character of the structure they now occupied.

"It is an education center." T'Pol decided. "A school for young Ctarians."

Beside her, Trip scowled more than a little grumpily.

"Kinda figured that," he said, nodding at the large, colorful Ctarian alphabet logos emblazoned along the wall before them, with the now faded, yet also colorful, illustrations of Ctarian children shown at play beneath.

And the rows of desks and chairs, where the Ctarian children presumably had once studied.

And the podium at the end of the room, where the instructor must have stood to lead the children in those studies.

"I am simply confirming what would otherwise seem obvious." T'Pol suggested. "An alien culture would be easy to misinterpret…"

Trip grumbled, irritably. "T'Pol, I just want to get out of here, get this over with, and get back to the ship. It's hell here."

T'Pol was immediately alarmed, of course. Hell was a religious construct implying eternal torment. So, as she'd begun to suspect, the Humans, and Trip in particular, were becoming all the more irrational and emotional the longer they stayed on this planet. She considered suggesting to Captain Archer that they take a break and return to the ship to pursue their investigations again later, once the team had a chance to recover themselves somewhat. They were, all of them, becoming emotional here.

Emotional and…somewhat psychotic.

"Damn it, Hoshi!" Archer suddenly barked, from somewhere in the adjoining room. "How long does it take to translate? You said you had the descended dialect already…"

"Well, I'm trying! It's not easy with you breathing down my neck! And it's horrible here! How am I supposed to concentrate…?!"

"Just translate the thing!"

T'Pol suppressed some measure of dread. The Humans were beginning to lose even the ability to manage impulsive behavior. And Captain Archer's mild profanity suggested high levels of aggression.

"Bloody hell!" Malcolm suddenly exclaimed from the far side of the room. "What was the matter with these people? I've only been here a few hours and I'm almost ready to choke someone. I can't imagine living under these conditions!"

A clear, verbalized threat.

T'Pol was concerned. Gravely concerned.

She left Trip's irritable company to confront the captain right away. The mission would simply have to be interrupted until the team was able to adjust themselves and regain self control again.

Trip followed, and T'Pol was alarmed again, disturbed at the prospect of the Human engineer stalking her in that manner. He could lose control of himself, do anything. He might grab her from behind, perhaps, or express his frustrations and poorly suppressed emotions in a physical manner, perhaps…express some other impulses she was perfectly aware that he…

"T'Pol!"

It was the captain, up ahead in the next room. She took the excuse to hurry a little, to put greater distance between herself and the predatory Human pursuing her.

She couldn't resist a quick glance back, to be sure…

He was drenched in sweat and his golden hair was askew. And he was examining her posterior, 'ogling' her. He caught her eye immediately, though, and smirked, wickedly, perhaps even…maniacally.

She suppressed a shudder and quickly arrived, thankfully, in the presence of the rest of the team, where Commander Tucker would at least be less likely to…misbehave. They stood together there, Archer and Hoshi. The communications officer was busily, and irritably, hard at work trying to translate the faded writings on the base of the strange device they examined.

The room itself was remarkable, a large chamber interspersed randomly with simple constructs of some sort, basic geometric shapes of various kinds cushioned in now partly deteriorated foam. They were rectangles and squares mostly, each the size of a person, some standing upright, some lying lengthwise on the floor. They didn't serve any obvious purpose. Perhaps they were merely decorative, however odd they were.

The device that Archer and Hoshi examined, however…that was striking.

Trip came along beside her in moments, even as Malcolm finally caught up and joined Hoshi, so she focused on scanning the device despite the scent he was beginning to exude right next to her. The palpable levels of tension in the room were only increasing now that the entire team was in such close proximity to one another.

The device was long, perhaps as long as ten meters, and covered in cushioned foam, as everything else in the room seemed to be. That made sense, now that she considered it. It was a school, and it therefore behooved the instructors and the supervisors of the school to minimize risks to emotionally undisciplined children, but that risk mitigation stood in stark contrast to the nature of the device, once she began to intuit its purpose.

She reviewed the data again, and again, a third time hoping that she was wrong, even risking the increasing agitation and impatience of the Humans in attendance in delaying her pronouncement.

The device was long, waist-high and rectangular, and set into the floor. Down the center of the top surface, extending the entire length, a still stream of liquid coolant lay dormant, coolant with unique properties. It did not seem to dissipate or evaporate at all, or even to deteriorate in any other manner. It was still present, still filling the reservoir, despite the passing of some centuries now. That was quite remarkable. More remarkable were the readily identifiable cooling properties of the liquid. It was cool, yes. And it absorbed heat without apparently becoming heated itself. But once activated by disturbing the liquid in any manner, those cooling properties would only increase exponentially and remain persistent for long periods of time. The heat absorption properties would last practically forever, for all intents and purposes, and the effect was quite notable. Which, considering the other devices along both sides of the trough resting in the integral holders readily at hand…

She scanned them again, to be sure.

Yes. They were weapons designed to project the coolant liquid in long, flowing streams. And those streams, striking their targets…

Helpless children.

In only moments after having been struck with that coolant…

T'Pol was uncertain how to report what she'd discovered here.

"T'Pol." Archer groused, irritably. "You have anything?"

"I…am uncertain how to…"  T'Pol hesitated. She would have to word this carefully.

"Any time today, Commander!"

"Alright," Trip frowned, irritable himself. "Take it easy, Captain."

"It's hot as hell in here, Trip!"

Again, references to violent, eternal torment.

They had to leave here and return to the Enterprise immediately, because T'Pol understood now. She understood what had happened here, understood the desperate measures these emotional and illogical Ctarians had been driven to, understood the disturbing thing that they'd done here…this final effort to end the misery, to relieve the torment of the children in their charge.

Perhaps it had seemed logical to them at the time. And she supposed she could understand the twisted thinking behind it. A coolant, fired in a stream in that way, the children would likely have found that…enjoyable.

But she understood. Just as she understood what would happen when the Humans in attendance perceived what she had perceived. They were already on the edge, at the very cusp of losing the last of their meager Human self-discipline. It would take very little for them to succumb to hopelessness here, to succumb to the crushing heat and oppression they suffered, to the realization of just how far that same desperation had driven the Ctarians. And they could very well succumb to that themselves. They could easily fall prey to that same madness, having confronted that desperation.

If they discovered the nature of this device, she was suddenly certain that they would.

"Captain…I think it would be best if we relocated…"

"Damn it, T'Pol!" Archer interrupted, explosively. "What is this thing? We've been trying to figure it out forever!"

Utterly irrational and entirely psychotic.

They had been in this building for less than thirty minutes, yet the captain was already unable to accurately judge the passage of time, already succumbing to the maddening effects of the environment on his Human system.

Trip was scanning the device now with an engineering scanner. He would understand the device instantly, and he was very intuitive and empathetic. He would understand, be struck by the horror of the thing, and fall prey to the madness…

She almost panicked as he stepped forward, brow furrowed, irritable and impatient, to examine one of the weapons.

"Trip…" She said, trying to warn him, even forgetting and putting aside the inappropriateness of referring to him in so intimate a manner in front of everyone. She had to stop him…

"What's…?" He asked, puzzled and frustrated, with the weapon already in hand, examining it, and suddenly he understood. She could see the realization dawn in his eyes, and he stared in shock at what he held in his hand, glancing up at those around him, realizing they didn't yet understand as he did, meeting her eyes, and realizing that she did.

The wheels turned in his mind. She could see it happening, and he succumbed, fell into utter madness just that easily, understanding the desperation of the Ctarians, understanding it, welcoming it…approving…

Entirely as she had feared.

He was lost, giving himself over to it immediately, his eyes taking on a sinister aspect. He smirked, in so evil a manner.

And turned that smirk on her.

"Trip…" She said, imploring him. "Control yourself. Consider your actions…"

He was already raising the weapon, grinning wickedly, his face twisted in a rictus of sadistic delight. Before the other Humans could even begin to understand what was happening she dodged, nearly diving to the side as the stream of super coolant flashed past her, barely missing her shoulder. She could almost feel the liquid snatching the heat from the air as it missed impacting her torso.

The geometric shapes… whatever their purpose had been, there was one purpose that was obvious now. They were for taking cover, for avoiding being shot.

Try to reason with them…try to make them embrace logic…

"Don't run, T'Pol!" Trip laughed terribly. "It won't hurt, I promise!"

She was already behind the first cushioned pillar, hiding behind it, trying to work up the nerve to dodge to the next, to not only take cover but put distance between them, and she heard the stream impact the pillar, sizzling as it struck and flowed down the length on the far side…

That could be useful. He was so entirely given over to madness that he'd wasted a shot, clearly having no hope of impacting her through cover but simply too eager to resist. She ran. And she dodged.

Another shot, as Trip laughed all the more insanely.

And another shot…but not from Trip.

She could tell where he was precisely: in pursuit, trying to overcome her cover, trying to catch her and shoot her with that horrible weapon. That third shot…that had come from the device itself. One of the other Humans…

Hoshi screamed, and Archer laughed, every bit as madly as Trip had just a moment before. It was spreading. Already they were falling prey to it. She had no hope of eluding them all…

…and indeed she did not.

She'd forgotten about Malcolm, and perhaps had entirely overestimated his discipline and self-control. She’d even assumed she might have some chance of reasoning with him over all the others, but she was wrong, because he was there, stepping out, grinning madly and wickedly, stepping out from the purple pillar she’d used to seek protection from the horror, his own weapon leveled at her instantly, the stream of coolant flying out to strike her before she could even think to dodge.

It struck her chest and she stumbled. Already the coolant took effect. She could feel the heat being drawn from her body with nothing but the thin Starfleet excursion uniform to protect her. She stood in shock, staring at Malcolm. He'd…shot her.

She almost couldn't believe it.

Behind her, Trip finally caught up, and he shot her as well, the coolant impacting her back and saturating the entire rear portion of the uniform shirt. But it didn't matter. It was all over for her now.

"Aw, you got her!" Trip said, disappointed in having his evil intentions thwarted by another. Malcolm only laughed.

"I saw she was heading for the big square back there." Malcolm laughed. "All you had to do was cut her off!"

"Well, that's real interesting, Lieutenant." Trip said, suddenly and with obvious evil intent. "Let's see if you can get there before I get you!"

He was already firing, striking Malcolm on the left arm, and Malcolm started moving, dodging and running as he fired back.

Streams of coolant filled the air as the two saturated one another, laughing hysterically and madly, even as Archer and Hoshi laughed and screamed on the other side of the room where they were busy exchanging fire as well.

It was madness. Utter and complete madness.

T'Pol could only stand there, suffering the effects of the coolant on her body. She was cold now. It wasn't comfortably warm in here at all anymore.

She sighed. Humans. They were impossibly illogical and irrational, all of them, and very difficult to work with.

"Aw, we've got to take some of these back to the ship!" Trip was saying. "Alien water guns! Man, I love exploring!"

The fight continued for some time. She was finally forced to arm herself and participate in the end, if only to minimize the damage she took in return, firing first and more accurately, taking advantage of the initial shock to avoid return fire. It continued for nearly half an hour, and she suffered through it. The Humans eventually regained their sanity so that she was able at last to comport herself in a more rational and logical manner. She hadn't had any sort of fun at all, of course. That would be illogical. She’d merely done as she was forced to do in adapting to the Human crew. They had at least relieved themselves somewhat and stopped empathizing with these illogical, self-destructive Ctarians, which had been her primary concern all along.

Trip laughed suddenly, still drenched with the liquid coolant from the water weapons.

"I don't know who these people were," he grinned, laughing. "But I love them!"

T'Pol was immediately concerned.


Comments:

Linda

This was cute. 

Transwarp


Hmmm.  I wonder if you can fill a balloon with that liquid...

Hummingbird2

I know I've already reviewed this at ff.net, but I really enjoyed this. Absolutely hilarious, thank you! :D

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