The Last Full Monty

By E.M. Theis

Rating: PG-13

Genres: humour

Keywords: sickbay

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This story has been read 3313 times.


Chapter 1

Disclaimer: The characters, plot, and places of Star Trek: Enterprise are the property of CBS and Paramount. No profit was made from this story, and no infringement was intended. This work was produced solely for entertainment.

Rating: PG-13 (mild language, sexual content)

Genre: Humor

Mission Date: February 16, 2152

Summary: An accident in Engineering seals the main engine room from the rest of the ship, cutting it off from life support even though Malcolm, Trip, and Archer are still inside. There, they must wait for rescue and attempt to survive the heat and each other’s company while the rest of the crew attempts to cut them free.


CHAPTER ONE


“You’ve got to be kidding.”

Commander Charles “Trip” Tucker the third shook his head fervently, though there was no possible way either of the men with him could see the gesture. He’d been working in the tight crawl space beneath the warp engine for the better part of an hour, talking about random topics of varying interest while he attempted to realign one of the secondary emitters for the containment field. He supposed he was being too meticulous. The field was scarcely off by a hundredth of a micron – and it was still well within standard operating limits – but he, quite frankly, had nothing better to do.

Judging from his company, neither did the ship’s Captain or the ship’s Armory Officer. “’Course I’m not kidding, sir,” he said finally. He shifted his feet slightly, wincing at the ache in his lower back before he reached once more into the small panel above his head. He suspected the problem originated not with the emitter itself but was the result of the influence of an electric-magnetic source from somewhere around it. If the insulation on any of the surrounding circuitry had been compromised, he suspected that that would be just enough to cause the fluctuation. It wasn’t a problem now, but it very well could erupt into one.

The possibility was unlikely. But he was bored. “I have the letter back in my quarters,” he continued as he raised his small scanner to the first of the many clustered wires in the opened panel. “From A.G.”

He heard his best friend laugh disbelievingly. Jonathan Archer had always been his closest companion during his years in Starfleet, and that the other was sitting with him in Engineering at nineteen-hundred hours on a movie night only reaffirmed what Trip already knew. For all the tough scrapes they’d gotten into so far on their mission, the Captain would always be his friend.

“I don’t believe it,” Archer declared, still fighting his chuckles. “He couldn’t have… crashed… the Shenandoah, Trip. I think A.G.’s pulling your leg.”

“I don’t think so, Cap’n.”

“Now, wait.” That was the voice of Lieutenant Malcolm Reed, breaking into the conversation. If Trip turned his head slightly, he could see Malcolm’s boots. The tactical officer had been helping as best he could from one of the consoles to the side of the engine, tracking Trip’s diagnostic from there. “Who is this again? Captain Duvall?”

“Yeah,” Trip replied, fingering through the wires. They were all perfectly fine according to his scan. He jerked them gently, and none of them fell free of their connectors. He stifled an irritated curse. “I have the engineering reports, too. From Jupiter Station, signed by Captain Jefferies. The accident report calls it a ‘collision’. Apparently obtained while attempting to dock at one of the orbital platforms there. He crashed, sir, into spacedock.”

The Captain laughed again, and even Malcolm couldn’t stifle a snicker. “But who is he?” the Lieutenant pressed. “I’m afraid I’ve never met him.”

“He worked on the NX-Test project,” Archer explained, after clearing his throat. “He was one of the pilots, and he wasn’t exactly . . . top-notch.”

Trip barked a laugh. “Sir! He was terrible, Malcolm. The guy wouldn’t know the pitch control from the guidance system.”

“Neither did you,” Archer interjected laughingly.

He scowled, hearing Malcolm join in. “That was a Suliban cell ship!” he irately rejoined. His words did little more than garner more laughter, and he was forced to smile as he started scanning another bundle of wires. The insulation on each of them was also perfectly fine, and another tug yielded nothing. That had been the last of the suspected bundles. This time, he could not bite back a curse as he simply dropped the scanner to the deck plating.

He was hot and tired and frustrated. He’d been working on the problem for hours, looking through endless field calibrations before he decided it had to be a hardware malfunction. To make his day even more tedious, there had been nothing else that required his attention. Enterprise was (once again) en route to the resort planet of Risa – and he could only hope that they would actually make it there this time. They were two days away and traveling at a steady warp three. And he probably should have turned in hours ago. The doctor had said light duty. He figured sitting at a desk qualified. He’d been wrong.

“Are you okay, Trip?”

He sighed softly and shook his head to clear it. But the movement only managed to make his vision blur, and he closed his eyes until the fuzziness left his head. He swallowed and moved his tongue around his suddenly dry mouth in an attempt to moisten it before he spoke. “Yeah, fine,” he replied. “Just out of ideas.”

“Why don’t you call it quits?” Archer suggested. “The movie’s only half an hour in. And I think the rest of your crew abandoned you.”

“I’m still here, Captain.”

Trip couldn’t help but smile when he heard Rostov’s muted voice. Judging from the sound, the crewman was manning the main station on the warp engine, watching the warp field fluctuations for any possible problems. Also a tedious job, but that was one that Trip could do all day. There was something about tweaking the intermix ratio and making minute adjustments to the plasma flow that just contented him. He viewed it as a challenge to see how smoothly he could get the engine to run, particularly at the higher speeds. He should have spent his day doing that and delegated this task to someone else.

“I appreciate that, Rostov,” Trip declared, smiling a bit. The later shifts in Engineering were as minimal as they could be with only two or three people in the main engine room at any given time. Michael Rostov was, other than Trip, currently the only engineer in the place. Ensign Hart had been sent to repair a faulty communications grid on B-deck. The other people on duty had been sent to the bowels of the ship to finish the last of the work in purging the impulse manifolds. He wanted to have the impulse drive in top condition when they arrived at Risa. “Not a problem, sir,” the crewman replied jokingly.

“Well,” Trip remarked, “if Ensign Hart gets back here and is looking for something to do, have him take a look at this. Otherwise, I’ll just track it down in the morning.”

“Aye, Commander.”

He shifted in the crawlspace, rolling slightly on his side so he could reach the cover for the electrical panel. He grabbed up the cover and rolled back. The bundles of wires were hanging loosely, and he frowned in irritation as he made to push them back into the opening. His frown deepened as they simply refused to follow his wishes, so he jabbed them back into the panel violently.

He saw the spark before he felt it, but it didn’t prepare him for the shock or the pain. He jerked his hand back from the panel, though he wasn’t fast enough to avoid the hurt. “Son of a bitch!” he exclaimed. His spastic movement had had the opposite result than he wanted, and he felt the belated agony race from the spot where his elbow had violently collided with the floor in addition to the stinging numbness from the electrical shock.

But he didn’t have time to think about it. A heartbeat after the shock, an alarm sounded that made his blood run cold and the pain seem inconsequential. He knew that sound. He knew it, and he knew that it signified very possibly the worst thing that could happen in the engine room short of a breach in the containment field. For a split second, he didn’t know what to do.

Then reason broke through his paralysis, and he moved. “Rostov, shut her down! Everyone, out!”

He heard the sound of footsteps, and Captain Archer barking a command, but the words were indistinguishable above the buzz in his ears. He smelled the ozone from the shorted wire, felt incredibly hot as his heart pounded in his chest. But he didn’t have much of a plan other than to get out of the crawlspace. They had a little over sixty seconds to clear the room before the environmental safeties kicked in and sealed the area. After that, they’d be dead, anyway.

He heard Malcolm call his name, and a glance towards his feet revealed a pair of boots that weren’t his. The damned fool was waiting for him! “Malcolm!” he snapped, tossing the panel aside and pushing himself back toward the entrance to the tight space. “Get your ass in gear!”

“Sorry, sir,” Reed replied; his tone sounded adamant despite the fact that Trip could scarcely hear him above the harsh alarm. “I’m not going to leave you.”

Trip gritted his teeth, feeling his foot catch on one of the struts that help to support the warp reactor. “Then help me!”

Malcolm didn’t waste much time after the words had left Trip’s mouth, and the Commander felt a hand tighten around one of his ankles before he was pulled. The force bent his other leg painfully, however, as he hadn’t yet freed his caught boot from the strut. He felt his knee strike the reactor and sucked a sharp breath in through his teeth.

“Malcolm!”

The Lieutenant stopped, detecting something unspoken from his tone, and he attempted to sit up in order to pull his foot free. The space wasn’t enough to enable him to contort his body and free his foot, and he inwardly cursed his lack of flexibility. The seconds were counting down with each thundering beat of his heart. He wasn’t going to make it. If he wasn’t out from under the reactor in fifteen seconds, he’d never make it to the door in time.

Leave, Malcolm!” he yelled, barely able to hear himself over the claxon. “That’s an order!”

The noise from the alarm changed slightly, signifying how little time he had left. He knew Reed hadn’t moved, and he desperately tried to push himself deeper beneath the warp reactor to give himself move room to maneuver. His ankle and knee were throbbing, but he scarcely felt the pain. He could hear the Captain ordering that Rostov leave the room while he could, and Trip clenched his teeth angrily. If they hadn’t shut the reactor down yet – and judging from the throbbing hum above him, they hadn’t – they weren’t going to be able to stop it themselves. Not fast enough to prevent certain death for anyone who remained in the main engine room.

The alarm signified that some of the shielding on the reactor had been breached. The ship itself wasn’t in any imminent danger. But the radiation leaking from the machine would become fatal shortly. He had a little less than thirty seconds to get out of his current situation, and fifteen of those were needed to run the few meters to the door. He wasn’t going to make it!

Another surge of adrenaline rushed through him, and he jerked his foot back toward him viciously. He felt his heel pull free from his boot and found himself thankful for small miracles as the rest of his foot followed shortly after. The boot remained caught between the strut and reactor’s casing, but he ignored it, moving as fast as he could to the exit.

He clung to the hope that he’d make it, but he found it unlikely. It took him twenty seconds to get completely free from the crawlspace. Malcolm grabbed his arm as he sat up, and he looked at the man, unable to keep his irritation off his face. He bit back a comment about obeying orders and insubordination and instead let the other man pull him to his feet. His gaze landed on the main controls for the reactor, where the Captain was still feverishly attempting to shut down the reactor, and he couldn’t help but pause to wonder if everyone on the ship was simply insane.

“Captain!” he snapped. “Leave it!”

“It’s locked,” Archer countered. “If we don’t shut down the reactor, the ship’ll be out of control!”

“Captain! We don’t have time! If we don’t leave now, we’ll be dead.”

“Go, then!”

Trip reached out to grab Archer by the heel, willing to drag the man out by the feet, if he had to. His hand tightened around the Captain’s ankle, and he pulled viciously enough to nearly knock Archer on his ass. “Leave it!” he repeated angrily. “And, Malcolm, go, goddamn it!”

But it didn’t matter. Trip turned sharply as he heard the last blaring tone of the alarm, realizing that he’d either pitifully misjudged how much time they had or that he’d squandered too much of it. He watched the door slam shut, feeling suddenly very cold despite the sweat that was pouring down his face. He closed his eyes and waited silently for the end.

Malcolm’s hand was still tight around his arm, and he realized that the tactical officer was as scared as he was. Radiation poisoning was not a pleasant way to die. With the levels that would be radiated by the warp reactor cruising at warp three, they would likely feel the pain and disorientation in a matter of seconds and, if they were lucky, simply pass out a minute or so later.

All three of them stood in absolute silence; the alarm had stopped now that the doors and hatches were sealed. The warp engine was thrumming in its usual manner, timing the moments with its rhythmic reverberations. Trip counted them in his mind, adding the seconds that passed for each sound to the previous. When two minute’s worth of pulsing had passed, he frowned slightly. Other than the stress of the adrenaline rush, he felt perfectly fine. The only aches were the result of careless injury. The only disorientation was caused by the fact that he’d nearly hyperventilated during his rush to get out from beneath the reactor.

So he took a chance and opened his eyes. Nothing had changed. The lights were dimmed, and a warning lamp was spilling red throughout the room. He looked at Malcolm, who was watching him, equally flummoxed. Then he glanced to the Captain, and Archer was also looking at him.

“Aren’t we supposed to be dead?”

Trip grimaced when he heard the Captain ask the question they all were thinking. Technically, if the alarm had been correct and the containment field that protected them from the radiation emitted by the matter/anti-matter reaction in the warp reactor had been compromised, they should have been dead. Technically.

Trip sighed. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

He pulled his arm free from Malcolm’s grip and walked unsteadily toward the computer on his desk. His gait was uneven, and he regretted wasting the time and effort to get his foot free. He wanted his damn boot back, but he wasn’t about to go crawling back under the warp reactor – not yet, anyway.

“Trip?” Malcolm asked uneasily.

He tried to keep the chagrin off his face as he sat at his desk. The computer was locked, as the safety measures shut down all the systems in the main engine room when it was sealed from the rest of the ship. He rolled his eyes and pressed one of the buttons to engage the computer. Nothing happened, and he didn’t expect that it would. To the computer, every human in the main engine room was dead. It was only a useless security measure. If by some twist of fate, an alien race managed to take over the ship and flood the main reactor room with radiation, well, then Trip didn’t think for a minute that the rest of the crew would be in any condition to render assistance.

He cursed and tried another route, trying to remember if it was possible to override the security system or if the computer simply ignored any input from these consoles. He thought it was the latter, and, when all attempts to gain access failed, he figured he was probably right. “Trip, what just happened here?” Archer asked, drawing his attention.

The Commander glanced to his left and noticed that the two men were critically watching him. “Well,” he replied with a tired sigh. “We’re not dead. So my best guess is that the shielding didn’t fail; the sensors did.”

“That’s not so bad,” Malcolm intoned.

Trip pressed his lips into a thin line, biting back a comment that would have been sure to simply irritate the other man. “The system’s locked from these controls,” he declared grumpily. “There’s nothing I can do to reset the sensors from here. Son of a bitch. Let’s find a communicator.”

“I’ve got one.” Reed produced a communicator from one of his pockets without fanfare. Trip knew the Lieutenant was familiar with the protocols in Engineering and was no doubt well aware that they would have access to very little in terms of equipment. Malcolm flipped it open and offered it to the Captain.

Archer took it gingerly, as though he wasn’t quite sure how he was going to explain this to anyone. He pressed the button to transmit and raised it to his mouth. “Archer to… Sub-commander T’Pol,” he said haltingly. Trip almost laughed at the ridiculousness of it.

It took some time for them to get a reply. For a moment, Trip thought he would rather be dead. This was about the most mortally embarrassing thing that had ever happened to him – and he’d been mortally embarrassed many times in the past. But, no such luck on that front, and the Vulcan’s careful tone reply with an even: “T’Pol here, Captain.”

The Captain met Trip’s gaze, obviously at a loss for words, and Trip raised his brows helplessly. Archer grimaced. “We’ve encountered a… slight malfunction in the main engine room. The safety systems have locked Commander Tucker, Lieutenant Reed, and… myself… inside.”

There was a slight pause before T’Pol replied. “Captain, Lieutenant Hess is reading a major malfunction in the containment system for the warp engine. What is your status?”

Trip licked his lips. “Cap’n, Hess’s on the bridge. Let me talk to her.”

Archer nodded in acquiescence. “In a minute, T’Pol,” he said. “Trip wants to talk to Lieutenant Hess.”

Archer handed him the communicator, and Trip took it as he stood and headed back toward the reactor. “I’ll be right back, Cap’n,” he said. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Archer nod, and he turned his attention away from his companions. “Hess,” he barked into the communicator. His tone was a little more severe than he intended it to be, but he felt no need to apologize for crankiness. “What are you reading from internal diagnostics?”

He heard the soft noise that his second-in-command often made when she was reading. He could imagine her shaking her head as he crouched and began to make his way back under the warp reactor. “Magnetic containment is stable,” she replied. “Though I’m reading a breach in the radiation shielding around the reactor. That can’t be right.”

Trip laughed humorlessly. “No,” he agreed. “But it’s done a helluva job locking down the main engine room. I need you to reset the sensors from there.”

“Already on it.”

He waited in silence for her report, crawling back beneath the reactor to the place where he’d hastily dropped his scanner. He snatched it up and began the backwards trek, pausing only once when he was about to pass his boot. He made a face as he set the scanner aside to grab at the leather shoe, tugging on it viciously. It certainly was wedged, and he wiggled it around, trying to free it from its confines.

He was still working on it when Hess spoke again. “Commander, I can’t reset the sensors. There must be a short in the command controls.”

Trip stopped working on his shoe and resisted the urge to curse. “Can you track it?”

“I’m trying. No luck so far. What do you suggest we do?”

He sighed and released his boot, taking up the scanner. “Stand by.” He took a moment to recalibrate the scanner, and then he held it to the reactor. He felt the heat from the machine and frowned, trying to blink the sweat from his eyes. He was lying beneath the section of the reactor that had minimal heat shielding around it, and he grumpily thought of what the room would be like if they didn’t solve this problem. But the scanner’s analysis of the warp core was exactly what he thought it was going to be. “I’ve got normal readings on the reactor,” he said finally. “Ah, damn it.” He shifted and jammed the scanner into one of his pockets. “I would recommend that you get someone with a plasma torch working at one of these doors, Hess, until we can come up with a solution. Keep trying to track that malfunction from your end. I’ll see if we can jerry-rig something on this side.”

“Chief,” Hess ventured cautiously. “It’s going to take hours to cut through the door.”

Trip shrugged, wincing at a twinge of pain in his neck. “Better get on it, then. Because I’m already hot.”

“Aye, Chief. I’ll have Rostov start on it.”

“Good.”

He was about to sever the connection, putting his mind once again to the task of freeing his boot, but T’Pol spoke again and halted both actions. “Commander, I would like a report. Is the Captain there?”

Trip rolled his eyes. “From what I can tell, T’Pol,” he started breathlessly, “there’s some damage on either a connector or some insulator on the wiring for the diagnostic and alert systems. I was trying to track down a glitch, and something got fried. That’s all I know. The safety measures have command control locked out in here. I might be able to isolate the problem, if you give me some time.”

“Commander, is Captain Archer with you?”

He yanked viciously at his boot, and it pulled free, surprising him. But he shook off the shock and collected himself before he started the awkward crawl backward toward the exit. He grunted and nearly dropped the communicator. “Keep your shirt on,” he muttered. “Gotta get back to him.”

He inched his way along, and it seemed to take far too long for him to remove himself from the crawlspace. When he was finally free, he held up the communicator blindly, focusing more of his attention on ensuring that his head was nowhere near as of the support structures as he slowly pushed himself off his stomach. Someone took the communication unit from his hand, however, and he rose carefully, snatching up his boot.

He felt the blood rush from his head as he straightened, and he blinked away the fuzziness that momentarily plagued his vision as he tried to focus on the words being spoken by his captain. Archer was explaining their situation to T’Pol, as he understood it, which made Trip feel somewhat irritated. This was his department; these were his systems. If T’Pol wanted a report, well… it would be logical to ask him – not the Captain.

But she was more interested in what Archer had to say, so he sidled back to his desk and sat down. Archer continued to talk to T’Pol as Trip set to getting his boot back onto his foot. Being so tightly crammed into the small space had deformed the leather slightly, and it took some negotiating to fix the steel toe so it properly fit his foot. All the while, he felt Malcolm’s gaze on him, and he finally looked up to the tactical officer questioningly.

“What’s our status?” Malcolm asked quietly. “I assume the reactor isn’t leaking dangerous levels of radiation.”

Trip smiled. “No,” he replied. “The reactor’s leaking nothing. I think I shorted something in the diagnostic system and triggered the alarm. Except for scaring the piss out of us, I don’t think I did any lasting damage. Provided the crew gets the door open in a few hours, we should be perfectly fine.”

“Should be?” Malcolm echoed dubiously.

He shrugged in response. “As long as they don’t start the decontamination protocols, everything will be fine for at least ten hours.” He pursed his lips and set his foot on the floor, shifting in his boot in an attempt to get comfortable.

“And after ten hours?”

“Well,” Trip said, “I think we’ll have to worry about carbon dioxide poisoning before we run out of oxygen. The whole room is cut off from all the life support systems at the moment. Unless Hess can reset the sensors, it’s going to stay that way since I don’t particularly care to sit here and get blasted by everything we use to decontaminate a room full of radiation just so we’ll have life support back. But the room’s pretty big. Should be plenty of oxygen floating around here to last us.”

“Still, you don’t sound exactly pleased,” Malcolm countered.

Trip supposed the Lieutenant was correct. He wasn’t pleased. In fact, he was annoyed beyond all belief. “Malcolm,” he said finally, careful to keep his tone more neutral than it had been, “do you have any idea how much air is cycled through this room in an hour?” Reed hesitated and then shook his head. Trip tried not to frown. “We push, on average, sixty percent more cool air through the main reactor room than the rest of the ship combined – not because we need the fresh oxygen. It’s to keep this room near twenty-two degrees.”

Malcolm sniffed and crossed his arms. “I always rather thought this room was hot and stuffy.”

Trip raised his brows. “Exactly.”

It took Malcolm a moment to understand the implications of that – a moment in which Trip wiped at the sweat beading on his brow. But then Reed understood, and his arms dropped to his sides as he rolled his eyes and sighed.

“You have to be kidding me.”


Comments:

lunex
[b][/b]enjoyed the story very much. Really like the dialogue between the guys and am looking forward to seeing wherer you go with this fic.
Reanok
I really like this story so far.;)
Blacknblue
I can see right where this is going. Beautiful.
justTripn
Two thumbs WAY up! I love this one. Very exciting. The dialog is perfect. And the story has been finished and sumbitted! I have all six chapters. I will be posting new chapters every few days. :D

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