Brainstorm

By justTrip'n

Rating: PG-13

Genres: drama

Keywords: E2 Lorien marriage

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This story is number 4 in the series (E2) Squared


Chapter 1

Rating: PG-13 (for all kinds of stuff)
Spoilers: My saga draws on“E2” and “Chosen Realm.”

Disclaimer: I am indebted to the actual writers and owners of Star Trek Enterprise for 4 wonderful seasons. THANK YOU. No infringement intended.

Author’s Note: This is the conclusion of the saga that began with "Forwards or Backwards"and continued with "Heresy" and "Reunion" (To understand this story, you should at least read “Reunion.” Those who have followed me this far might want to take a peek back at the both the beginning and end of “Reunion” to refresh their memories.)

MOVIE TRAILER OF My E2 SERIES!:

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Believe it or not Escriba has made a movie trailer of my stories!!!! THANK YOU ESCRIBA

Summary for beginning Brainstorm: By the end of “Reunion,” Trip had returned from his captivity on the Triannon missionary ship and had reunited with T’Pol. . . twice! (Thus the R rating.)

However some plot lines were dangling:
1) T’Pol had begun a risky pregnancy.
2) The psychic “bond” is still “offline.”
3) Trip resents Malcolm for whatever happened (or almost happened) between him and T’Pol.
4) At the same time, Trip struggles with real feelings for the younger Triannon woman who aided his escape.
5) Lorian is coming of age.
6) And the crew is anxious to find and destroy the “central sphere” of the expansionist Sphere Builders, before the transdimensional species renders the galaxy uninhabitable.

Warning: Anything can happen, including character death (but this conclusion covers a long time period so perhaps I can be excused.)

Other stories in the series:

"Forwards or Backwards" (PG-13) is a “mystery.” It is my Trip n’ T’Pol get together story.

"Heresy" (PG-13 with a T’Pol/Reed pairing) describes how T’Pol moves on with her life after Trip’s death in a canon-based E2 universe. It is tragic, with a hopeful message.

"Reunion" describes Trip’s return to T’Pol in a parallel universe that branched off from the canon E2 one. Reunion is my promised “happy ending” to “Heresy.” It is T’nT-shipper-friendly and you can jump in without reading “Heresy,” thanks to “Scenes from previous episodes.”

Thank you: To my consultant, Black ‘n Blue.


Brainstorm
Chapter 1


Trip sat in the brig, eyeing his distrustful teenager. The door wasn’t locked; still, there was no escape from this duty. Recalling his promise to T’Pol, he gathered the courage to proceed.

“You see, Son, when a man loves a woman, they want to create a child together as an expression of their love.”

Lorian threw up his hands, then covered his face. “Dad, I’m almost seventeen. I know where babies come from. I’m sorry you were gone for two years, but I’m afraid it’s a little late for this.”

“I know  you know where babies come from, but I still got someth’n to say, and you’re damn well going to listen!” Trip took a breath. This was going about as well as he had hoped. “We’re not get’n out of here that easy.”

“OK, but can we just skip the fairy tales?”

Now Trip threw a hand to his face and scrubbed at his forehead, as if to wipe off the sweat and grime from a long day’s work.

Yeah, things had gotten a little messy. So where to begin?

Lorian, . . . when men and woman are thrown 117 years into the past, they pair up to create the next generation of crewmen to run the ship and fight the Xindi. Except your mom and dad, who are genetically incompatible for that kind of thing. Still, an unbreakable bond developed between them, based on companionship and recreational sex. Then Phlox bailed them out by engineering YOU in a lab.

Then, when your dad was kidnapped by the Triannons, your mom avoided the pon farr by inseminating herself with your dad’s frozen sperm, against doctor’s warnings. And meanwhile Dad seduced one of his captors to arrange his escape . . .

Trip groaned in frustration. Now he understood his wife’s discomfort when scolding her son away from Trellium. Trip looked across at his boy—the “expression of our love”— slouched on the adjacent bench.

“Look, Son. I love you and I don’t want you to get hurt. I don’t want you to hurt anyone else, so . . . we’re gonna talk about this stuff if it kills us . . .”

@@@

20 minutes later they were finishing up. Trip had covered the essential topics, including ones he’d had to research: the warning signs of pon farr and the evils of nonconsenual mindmelding:

“It can disrupt neuroelectric pathways in the middle brain, leading to Panar Syndrome, a permanent loss of emotional control.

In fact, it’s best to avoid the mindmelding altogether,” Trip concluded. “It’s taboo on Vulcan, ‘cause it’s so invasive, a lot more so than the bond, I’m told. One can do a whole lot of damage accidentally. . . . Just imagine an electrical current fry’n your brain.”

Lorian’s was wincing at this point. Of course he’d been wincing through the entire conversation.

“Oh, Son, I almost forgot: your mother and I never would have hooked up if it wasn’t for Vulcan neuropressure . . .”

“Please no more,” the boy interrupted, “I promise I’ll watch the video . . . ”

“Uh . . .sorry. Your mom had to teach those techniques to me personally. I’m afraid there’s not much in the database.”

Lorian rolled his eyes in silent distress.

“Hey, champ. I got your back.” Trip reached over and clapped his son on the arm. “I’ll write it up! Just like the engineering documentation.”

“Yeah, Dad.”

“Uncle Jon says you started read’n that, after I left?”

“Yep.”

“Does it seem clear . . . and complete?”

“It’s pretty good. There’s some crazy stuff in there about plasma injectors . . .”

“I should have put a note beside that: For emergency use only. Heh. We were pretty desperate when I wrote that . . . Look, I know this stuff is embarrassing, but it’s all natural. Anyway . . . do you have any questions for me?

Lorian gave his dad a furtive glance:

“Will you help me find a mate?”

Trip supressed his surprise—to the best of his ability. "Well, . . . sure,” He began hesitantly. It’s a natural question; He’s half Vulcan, T’Pol tried to prepare me . . .

“I’ll tell you what. Worse comes to worse, Son, I promise . . . . But I’m sure things will just fall in place. Especially after Cap’n starts sending you new Recruits down to the surface. I could give you some tips for meeting women, but, I gotta tell you, Son—it looked like you were doing pretty good without a dating service. And if you don’t my mind my asking—what was wrong with Paris?” Trip shook his head in wonder at his son’s most recent female companion. “Geeze oh man, Lorian! That girl is gorgeous.”

“Mayweather?” Lorian sounded incredulous. “We were just friends.”

“Well, I’m sorry to hear that.”

“Besides, now she says she’s ‘bonded’ to Carlos.”

“Bonded? But they’re not even Vulcan.”

“I know. It’s ridiculous . . . They 'play house' like fricking kids.”

IRRKK! IRRRK! IRRRK! The alarm was sounding.

Lorian and Trip jumped to their feet, on high alert.

“Could be pirates,” Lorian called over his shoulder as he activated the door.

“Run! Hide in the core of the ship,” Trip instructed as the door slid open.

“No Dad, . . .battle stations!.”

Lorian took off, bolting to his post. And Trip was right behind.

@@@

T’Pol returned from battle stations and gingerly sat herself on the bed. She seemed to be sick as usual.

Trip might have been more curious about her condition, but he was still too pumped with adrenaline. Pirate ships were a constant nuisance out here in the Expanse. Jon had scared off this last one from the bridge, without firing a shot, pulling off yet another diplomatic miracle.

But Trip was prouder still of the engineering crew. “Our boy’s grow’n up!” He exclaimed. “It took a siren going off for me to realize. Lorian runs straight to Engineering. And just, in case the shit hits the fan, he’s already remodulating the power matrix to the hull plating. He noticed a patch that wasn’t polarizing.”

“I am also pleased with his performance. And before the alarm, were you able to talk to him about mating?”

“Uh . . . I still wish you wouldn’t put it that way, . . . but yeah, we were just finishing up. It went well.”

“So your talk was appreciated?”

“Well, it was tolerated. I hope you give me credit. I don’t remember my old man going into details. He’d keep after us, though ‘Treat the ladies with respect!’ He set an example and we were expected to follow . . .”

“Your example will likewise be beneficial to Lorian.”

“I’m no Henry Archer, but I guess it’ll have to do. They say, you practice on the first kid. With this second kid, we just might get it right. I’m sure looking forward to . . . that chance.” he glanced at his wife, who seemed to be fighting off a wave of nausea. “Are you alright?” he asked belatedly, afraid to hear the answer.

“Trip, there is no easy way to say this . . .”

“No, T’Pol. Ahww no . . ”

“ . . . I had an appointment with Phlox this morning. . . We discussed the possibility of ending this pregnancy.”

Trip flew to her side and found himself kneeling in front of her. He was gently holding both her arms as if she might break: “Hon, I know you’re sick. But you made it through a trimester! If you could stick it out just a few more weeks, . . . I promise. I swear it. I’ll find a way to move it, move her, move our baby into a biocylinder.”

“It is not a baby yet; and it can’t be moved.”

“It IS a baby. You said you could feel it; that it felt like butterflies . . . “

“I warned you not to hope for an outcome that is unlikely.”

“As far as possible, do not kill . . .”

“Surak’s words cannot decide this case. The fetus’s blood type is not compatible with mine. Increasing the anti-rejection dosage to compensate will also be quite dangerous . . . for me.”

“How dangerous?”

“The drugs are suppressing my immune system. I can’t fight infection. The doctor has been treating me for an infection. He warns that without an immune system my body could be overwhelmed—in a matter of days. He puts the odds at 80% . . .”

“That the baby will be born . . . ?” Trip asked hopefully.

“That I will survive on immunosuppressants.”

“Then you’re right,” Trip agreed, abruptly. “It would be suicidal. You should stop now . . . Hell, you should have stopped yesterday . . . ” You should have never started, he added silently. He got up in a daze.

“I did this so I wouldn’t hurt you.”

“Look, I appreciate your sacrifice. But, what do you want me to say?” He threw up his hands, “That this pregnancy was a good idea?”

“I didn’t want to go through the pon farr without you.”

“Well, why the hell not? It’s not like we’re Vulcans here on Enterprise—fighting for the right to mate—like a herd of . . . elk.

T’Pol, whatever you and your . . . friend . . . would have done, it’d all been all over by now. Water under the bridge! You should have known that. You could have trusted my loyalty. We’re married. We can both overlook a few minor, . . . . totally anomalous . . . . incidents?”

Trip was still needy for reassurance. It’d been a teeny bit rocky when he’d first returned to Enterprise with a young Triannon “girlfriend” in tow.

As often happened in the cold cruel Expanse, comfort and reassurance would not be forthcoming.

“This situation is so messed up,” Trip muttered to himself.

“We can’t change the past,” T’Pol answered stoically. “It is indeed ‘water under the bridge.’”

Trip returned to her side. He sat on the bed with his back to hers. He was thinking out loud: “You tried your best. Now what happens?”

“I don’t know. I stop the drugs and we wait.”

“How long?”

“Phlox is unsure. There is no precedent for this case.”

“Perhaps we’ll get lucky.”

She turned now and gripped his hand.

@@@@

It was a big day. Trip and Malcolm were taking the Recurits out on the hull for their first spacewalk.

“If you expose your body to the vacuum of space, it freezes instantly!” Carlos warned his fellow Recurits.

“Then when your dead body floats around and your frozen head bangs back into the ship, it shatters into a million pieces . . ,” Glenn added helpfully.

Paris made a face, and the group erupted in snorts and giggles.

All except Lorian. “Guys, it’s a VACUUM. To freeze you need to radiate your body heat into space. That could take awhile.”

“I know for sure your eyes would explode,” Carlos countered.

Tiva, the only Triannon on Enterprise, watched the scene with amusement.

“Your son is just like you, Charles: always setting the class straight.”

Anxious playmates and family members had not been allowed follow their loved ones to the airlock—it would have just been a distraction—but Tiva fell into neither category. So she had tagged along.

“I had a cool religion teacher,” Trip replied. “I can’t believe you let me go on like that, undermining your lessons.”

“I never knew what you might say next! But it was always a lot more interesting than the lesson plan.”

“I was driven to it by boredom. How did you survive in that job?”

“I thought I was helping the Makers gather Believers into the Expanse.” Tiva cocked her pretty blond head, looking wistfull. “Looking back, I believe I was somewhat deluded . . . Still, I feel nostalgic. A few months ago, with my people, my life had a purpose. There was something good there, on that missionary ship.”

“As I recall, the only good thing on that ship was you.

She rewarded his rash statement with a brilliant smile. God, she made him feel like Superman.

“Attention, Recruits!” Malcolm called, calming the chatter. “No one’s eyes will explode as long as the helmets stay on. The joking stops now. We must keep our wits about us during this and every EVA. Yes, it’s exciting, and yes we need to beat a deadline; but one can never loose focus. One misstep and you or your buddy could be floating off into the void.”

Once you check and recheck the seals on your suit, your partner will check them. Then Commander Tucker or I will triple check them. Protocol requires a triple check for every EVA.”

Trip turned his attention to the triple check. What the hell is wrong with me? Why do I care if I have fans. The woman was half his age and a recovering religious fanatic. And Trip was bonded . . . yes bonded to the woman of his dreams . . .

He needed to focus. The Recruits were crowding into the airlock. Malcolm would lead them out; Trip had his back. He would help any stragglers.

@@@

Lorian felt the artificial gravity release its heavy grip. The hatch above their heads opened and Malcolm jumped and floated out the hole, catching the opening and smoothly maneuvering himself outside. Soon he was staring back at Lorian through the open hatch, beckoning him forward. Lorian jumped and floated out into the darkness of space. Malcolm caught him by an arm and held him steady until Lorian had planted two boots against the dull metal surface.

Lorian looked up and felt a sudden exhilaration. Much like an Andorian who climbs onto the surface of his planet after a childhood of living underground, Lorian’s was stepping into a whole new world. A concave field of coppery plating, stretched out for hundreds of meters—a distant horizon. Lighting from the nearest star (it was reddish) cast stark shadows. Above them nothing but the blackness.

His body floated weightless over his feet. Out here, Newton’s first and second laws of motion were all that mattered; that and the magnetism in his boots. He tested the physical laws and the strength of the magnetic fields by shifting his mass from side to side and pealing one boot on and off the hull. If he were to jump, he’d drift forever.

But he would never jump. Not when his life was just getting good. Suddenly everything was going exactly right for Lorian. He was a de facto crewman in Engineering! And a valued one at that; his peers looked up to him. Dad had escaped from the Triannons and was back with the family. His twin sister and best friend, Destiny, had been rescued from her kidnappers, so Lorian finally had someone to confide in, if he so chose. And he finally had something to confide about : . . . that he actually cared in a crazy, irrational way, about another sentient being.

She liked him. He was convinced of it now. It was a whole lot of nothing that added up to something. Whereever Lorian went, this woman would happen to show up. Like right now she was “watching” his space walk. And what the hell for?—there weren’t even any windows! She was waiting outside the airlock for no good reason, just to congratulate the Recruits when they returned. And he couldn’t help but notice that she was always listening in on his conversations.

Of course Lorian’s sharp ears were mointoring hers as well. He had definitely caught that compliment: that he was smart, “always setting the class straight.” Her praise was certainly meant to be overheard.

Weird that his fifty-two year-old dad seemed just as smitten with the woman. Did Dad even realize he was hitting on her? Not that it mattered much; he and Mom were bonded for life. It’s just that Dad had never learned to hide his emotions; “he wore his heart on his sleeve” as some of the adults liked to say. Like today, the results were often . . . embarassing.

Lorian sighed and excused his father: It’s been hard enough for me, being half human; Dad is one hundred percent.

Lorian switched off the light in his helmet. He hoped to see the stars once his eyes dark-adapted. He was alone with his thoughts in the silence of the environmental suit, listening to his own breath, and waiting for the sky to sparkle. It was like a meditation. He could make out a few star clusters, but the Milky Way was not apparent.

Of course, the distant stars were never that bright. Damn thermobaric barrier. It blocked 50% of the light coming from outside the Expanse—

—And trapped people inside for years at a time.

One day I’ll undo this mess, he vowed—for the hundredth time.

He thought of Tiva waiting inside. I wish she could see me now. He switched his light back on before anyone could scold him.

@@@

There was something soothing about space, Trip considered. The stars burn on, converting hydrogen into helium, rolling blindly into the gravity wells of space-time. You feel small, insignificant—and alive by comparision. Being alive was a remarkable achievement way out in the total emptiness of space. And that went double for the Expanse with its treacherous anomalies. It was quiet in the locker room, as Trip and Malcolm inspected the environmental suits. They were worrying over a worn patch in the elbow of Trip’s suit.

“Better have the quartermaster take a look at it. It might hold for another five years, but better safe than sorry. We don’t want one of the Recruits wearing it and springing a leak.”

“Your’re good with those kids, Lieutenant.” Trip said, absently.

“Thanks, Trip.” Malcolm answered, “You can stop using my rank now. The kids are gone.”

“Right.” He’d been keeping the guy at arm’s length for some time. “Sorry, Mal.”

“Look, Trip. I’m sorry too.”

“What’d you got to be sorry for?” Trip asked belligerently.

“I’m not entirely certain. On the one hand, I’ve tried to act honorably through this whole . . . recent affair.”

Trip snorted softly and shook his head. “Affair . . .”

“On the other hand, I’ve obviously pissed you off.”

“You haven’t . . .” Trip answered firmly, wishing now he hadn’t given that impression.

“Trip, she said it was the only way. T’Pol said this pon farr condition would kill her.”

“I don’t want to talk about this.”

“Just tell me: what else could I have done?”

Malcolm's prodding was starting to get him angry. “You could’a told her to go find someone else.” Trip suggested. “Someone who wasn’t . . . my best friend!”

“Yes . . .” Malcolm agreed. “And I did—. . ..”

A locker slammed shut and Trip was stunned into silence. He had assumed . . . . Well, it was natural to imagine that T’Pol called all the shots . . .

Malcolm continued more gently, pleading. “Look Trip. She’s your wife. But I care about her too—as a friend. Is it so hard to believe she would want to pick me?”

Trip sat down on the bench. For the first time he thought through T’Pol’s mating choices—really thought it through—and shivered. Some of these single guys were single for a reason: He turned to his friend.

“You’re the most eligible bachelor on the ship,” he announced in surprise.

“Thanks,” Malcolm responded. “Someone finally noticed.”

Trip laughed out loud and Malcolm chuckled back, pleased with his little joke. Trip’s friend was a notorious womanizer, but mostly on the planets. He would never settle down with a wife on Enterprise.

Trip felt a little better. Maybe it was good to air this stuff. Trip looked back at the Armory Officer. “Honestly Mal, even more than the . . . ‘recent affair’ . . .another thing’s been bugging me.”

“Well then, out with it.”

“That whole time I was rotting on that ship, learning my prayers, I kept expecting Enterprise to roll up with guns blazing and haul us both outta there.”

Malcolm shrugged an apology. “Sorry Trip, I led the rescue effort. We weighed the pros and cons of a direct attack. We had too much too lose. My security assessment told us it was best to wait—pursue quiet diplomacy.” Malcolm nodded towards Trip, sitting on the bench. “And it seems I was right.”

“How very Vulcan. That’s what T’Pol said. Suddenly I get how you and my wife make a perfect couple.”

Trip made a comical scowl and Malcolm smiled happily. Only Trip was allowed to joke about his alien wife, so Malcolm knew to back off.

Trip was packing up the final suit, when Malcolm broke the companionable silence.

“She’s pregnant isn’t she?”

“Yeah,” Trip admitted, “but it’s not looking good. I mean . . . I really want this baby, but . . . anyway.”

“So . . . who’s the father?” Malcolm asked carefully.

“ME!” Trip shouted. “I’M the father.”

“Oh, . . . but . . .”

“It’s the twenty-second century!” Trip exclaimed, exasperated. “Or at least it used to be. How do you think we had Lorian?”

Trip rolled his eyes at the ceiling. “Phlox still had my . . . genetic material lying around in stasis.”

“Of course,” Malcolm agreed. “ . . . Actually, that’s brilliant!”

“Yeah, maybe. Anyway, T’Pol thought so . . . But the way things are going now, she’s probably going to lose this baby—I mean, fetus. Phlox says miscarriage is very common. Even among same-species couples.”

Malcolm nodded, reluctantly.

“Don’t tell T’Pol I said anything about her being pregnant”

“No I won’t.” Malcolm caught his eye. “Trip?”

“Huh?”

“I’ve been there.”

“You have?”

“Yeah. On two separate occasions. One time with Shendra.”

“Sorry Mal, I didn’t know.”

@@@

Lorian clammered down the access tube, his friend crawling right behind him. It was noisy and cramped. Lorian’s hands and knees clanked on the grating, and they could hear and feel the engines hum nearby. The pretense for this excursion was that Lorian would teach his friend Vulcan mediation—But if it really came to that, Lorian was in trouble; Lorian was way too excited to meditate.

It was plausible that Tiva would be into meditating. She had been religious her whole life; she still prayed. And Lorian had absorbed much of the Vulcan worldview: the ideals of self-discipline and logic; the commitment to the greater good. It made total sense that his friend would want to learn Vulcan meditation from the only Vulcan willing to teacher her, except . . .

. . . she’s giggling, Lorian noted with relief.

“You doing OK back there?” he called over his shoulder.

She didn’t answer immediately and when she spoke, her words were jibberish:

Git’ khluk grif—xhuah! Xhua!” she called ahead, still laughing.

“Shit, the translators don’t work in here!” Lorian realized.

The woman replied with yet more jibberish. All he could understand was that she wasn’t at all discouraged by the sudden impossibility of verbal communication. He stopped to see if she would want to turn back, but she waved him on.

“So we keep moving?” Lorian asked. She couldn’t understand him, but he asked it anyway.

He flashed back to his fifteenth birthday. His friend Paris had given him a “present.” It had all begun like this—a scramble down an access tube . . . . And yet, he hardly dared compare the two adventures. That encounter had been playtime; now he was serious. His relationship with this newcomer was based on something other than basketball. He was 17, an adult; the woman across from him confirmed it.

They’d arrived at their destination. A blanket was spread out over the rough grating. Sometimes he really did come here to meditate. He sat himself cross-legged on the blanket and invited her to do the same.

She didn’t sit, but she stopped crawling and rested back on her feet. She gave him a mischievous smile.

“I can’t believe we’re doing this,” Lorian said for no good reason.

Tiva rocked forward on her knees and Lorian caught her by the shoulders. They were nose to nose for a second, then their foreheads met. Acting on a deep and primative impulse, Lorian raised a hand to her chin, felt along the contours of her face, and locked on her temples.

@@@

Outside the ships titaniam hull something big was happening—something cosmic. Even more than usual . . .

Destiny was at that moment working in the nursery with her mother, Amanda, caring for her younger brothers and sisters and three other babies. It was 20:00. If she could just get this last one down . . . She jiggled a baby in her arms as he valiantly fought off sleep.

“Twinkle twinkle little star . . .”

She sang yet another verse of the lullaby as the baby’s eyelids floated shut again, then fluttered.

“Mom, let’s dim the lights.”

The lights went down and the baby’s sweet little face relaxed. With one long sigh, he gave up his fight and lapsed into happy, weightless dream. Destiny gazed down at the contented face, feeling almost as satisfied as the baby. With this last one out of the way, Destiny had earned herself a quiet break. Still bouncing the child, she paced to the window just to daydream . . .

Staring out the window, she grew puzzled, then excited. “Mom, come look! There’s something glowing in the sky!”

@@@

Lorian detached his hands and fell backwards. Tiva looked startled, even shaken. Then she smiled. Lorian smiled back, shyly. It was a little too late to be shy. They had just been rummaging around inside each other’s brains.

Lorian held up a finger, then a hand, a signal to wait one minute. She seemed to understand. He got up off his butt and crawled to the nearest access panel, removed the panel, and started fiddling.

“There, can you hear me now?”

“Yes,” she answered. “Not like I could a minute ago! What was that? What did you do?”

“I think it’s a mindmeld. Some Vulcans can link their minds with others. I shouldn’t have. But you were coming at me, and it kind of happened. Are you all right?”

“All right? THAT was one of the most spiritual experiences of my life!”

“’Spiritual’? He laughed at the irony. “Sorry, please don’t think I planned this—with the translators off and all. I swear, I like to come here to get away from everybody. I turned off their spy system in this entire tube.”

“It’s just sensors; all ships have them. They’re there for a reason. What happens if someone’s looking for you?”

“If it’s an emergency, I’ll hear the sirens. See, a while back I had a girlfriend. And somehow, everyone seemed to know my business. So I’m extra cautious these days.”

“So you and your girlfriend liked to mindmeld?”

“I’ve never done this before, . . . EVER. I hope it’s not wrong. And I don’t think it is, cause I respect you . . . ‘a course . . . But, I need to tell you, . . . Hell, you already know . . . .that I think you’re amazing . . .”

@@@

On the bridge T’Pol stared out her viewer. “I concur. It’s extraordinary.”

“In a good way, right?” Amanda’s sounded excited over the com.

“It does indeed seem fortuitous.”

T’Pol could hear Destiny whispering “YEAH!!!” from the background in the nursery.

“SHH!!! Quiet!” Her mother urged, in the tone of someone organizing a surprise party.

“I must notify the senior officers,” T’Pol continued, “I’ll report back as soon as I am able.”

“YESSSS!”

“T’Pol out.”

Vulcans do not get excited over novelties, T’Pol chided herself. But Humans do. I will be pleased to observe Trip’s reaction.

@@@@

“So Destiny is your twin sister in name only?” Tiva asked the boy. Lorian was lying on his back in the access tube, knees pointed to the ceiling. Tiva crouched by his feet. There was hardly room to sit up.

“You’re twins if you were once in the same womb,” Lorian answered, “and we were. Only it was an artifical womb.”

“And that’s how you feel?”

“That’s how it is.”

“I was just curious,” Tiva told him. “Your dad calls her his ‘niece’ and you both are so protective of her. I had her as a student; she’s nothing like you.”

“Well, she’s half Denobulan, if that’s what you mean,” Lorian answered evasively.

Tiva knew it was time to change the subject. “So . . . why do your parents disapprove of mindmelding?”

“Well, they say when a person invades another’s mind, neuroelectric pathways are disrupted. Someone could get hurt.”

“But it felt wonderful.”

“More importantly, you’re Triannon and I’m both Human and Vulcan. Our people don’t get along so well. Ms. Sato says I’m not supposed to even talk to you, about . . . certain stuff. Some would say our interests conflict.”

“I disagree. We are much more similar than you realize. You were born to carry out a mission—to save your planet . . .”

How did she know . . .? He was only beginning to realize it himself . . . .

“And I was born to save mine,” She finished, stunning them both into silence.

The silence was broken by a distant commotion: EEEERRKK . . . . ERK! ERRRK . . . .ERK!. Lorian sat up in confusion. The sirens were sounding, but in no recognizable pattern. They were just making noise. Lorian reluctantly crawled towards the exit to check. That’s when he heard the page:

“Lorian report to the Bridge. Lorian report to the Bridge.”

@@@@

As word spread, people across the ship had turned off their lights and rushed to the nearest window to see the sparkly bright glow.

Senior officers had gathered on the bridge, not to strategize or analyze the data, but to see the show on the widest possible viewcreen. Someone had the brilliant idea to look for the Sun.

“That’s definitely it,” Travis crowed. On the screen, a cursor pointed out the speck. It filled just one pixel.

Jon smiled broadly, “Well, we’re not going to get sunburn from that. Enlarge.”

Now they all gazed on a large yellowish-white blur.

“Spectroscopic confirmation.” T’Pol announced from the science station.

The Bridge erupted in cheers; there were hugs and high fives and even tears of joy.

Lorian and Tiva stepped off the lift and into the commotion.

“What’s going on?” Lorian asked bewildered. “I heard the page. The halls are dark.”

“There’s no emergency,” T’Pol assured him.

“Tiva!” Trip exclaimed. “Where were you, Son? We just wanted to show you something.”

“Sorry, Mom, Dad, I was off the grid.”

“The grid is down?” Trip asked.

“It shouldn’t be,” T’Pol said.

“Just one access tube. It’s no big deal. I can fix it tomorrow.”

Jon interrupted. “Lorian! So glad you could join us!” He waved a hand grandly at the screen. “That is our home!

“Sir, I don’t . . .”

“It’s the Sun!”

“But how? . . . it’s never visible . . .”

“The thermobaric barrier went down fifteen minutes ago, not just a clearing in the clouds. The entire thing just dissipated, in a matter of minutes!”

“Any idea why, Cap’n?”

“None whatsoever.”

“Whoa . . . So what does it mean? Our job here is done?”

“Not so fast. It could be just a glitch. Or the spheres could be down for routine maintenance. It’s too early to tell.”

“Or it could be the Sphere Builders are f**ked,” Rostov added heartily.

Lorian grinned, he almost laughed, but then glanced to Tiva.

“T’Pol,” Travis asked, “You want to try for 40 Eridani A?”

“Vulcan’s primary star is relatively young and will sustain nuclear fusion for another eight billion Earth years. I am quite certain it is still there.”

“Then, let’s look at the Milky Way,” Trip suggested, trading a look with Jon, the amateur astronomer. The Captain beamed in anticipation. Lorian took a seat on a step.

The scene on the viewscreen changed to a thick panorama of stars. Tiva who already seemed a little weirded out, now gasped and turned to Trip.

“It’s beautiful, right?” Trip asked her.

“Beautiful . . . scary, the universe is suddenly so vast.”

“Travis pan starboard. See right there?” Trip pointed at the screen. “That’s the center of our galaxy. So many stars it looks like someone spilled milk.”

Tiva seemed embarrassed, “Milk? Like from a mother? How would it get spilled?”

Jon suppressed a smile, then explained: “On our planet we drink the milk of farm animals, cows . . .”

“Even the adults?” Tiva asked in horror.

“Yes, even the adults.”

“I see . . . .”

“The Makers are opposed to milk?” Jon asked.

“Very much so. It’s only for babies.”

“I’ll make a note: Next time the Prenom stops by, we don’t offer him ice cream. . . .”

“Not that we have any,” Hoshi noted mournfully.

“So, Tiva, what do you think?” Rostov asked. “Your people ever hear of anything like this happening before?”

“Actually, yes.”

The crew looked deflated.

“But not in my lifetime,” she added.

“So it’s unusual,” Jon said. “I believe that’s worth celebrating!”

“Last time, how long was the system down?” Trip enquired.

Tiva looked thoughtful. “They say, the last time the Makers dropped their Arms, many ships fled the Chosen Realm. I believe the ‘system was down’ for something like two of your weeks."  She noticed the strange looks. “Our people call the barrier the "Arms of the Makers,” she clarified. “If the Makers drop their Arms, it’s because they are angry with us.”

“Maybe they are angry you defected,” Rostov suggested with a laugh.

Trip scowled a warning at his fellow engineer, and T’Pol noted the exchange.

“This calls for a party,” Jon decided. “Someone’s got to make a run to the galley. What Earth food do we still have in storage? Just the spaghetti sauce?”

Just then, Amanda arrived with Destiny. “Uncle Trip,” Destiny said, “We also want to see Earth on the big screen! And maybe Denobula?”

“I’m not sure we can do Earth,” Trip apologized, “but we just did the Sun. Don’t worry, you didn’t miss anything. We’ll be here all night.”

“Wake up the chef,” Jon added, and Hoshi went to her post to make the call.

Destiny found a spot on the floor near her “twin brother.” The place was getting crowded. “This reminds me of that time the stasis unit went down,” she said, “and we ate the last of the . . . ice . . . the ice. . . ”

“Ice cream,” Amanda finished. “We had to eat all the perishable food.”

“Mmm . . . ice cream.” Hoshi said, lost in a daydream. “Why do we keep talking about ice cream?”

“And how do you remember that?” Amanda asked her daughter. “You were only three?”

“It’s kind of hard to forget. I remember the parents crying . . . and singing! ”

The crew exchanged glances. “Uh . . . that might be because of the drinking.” Rostov said, excusing them all.

Lorian chimed in: “And Dad tried to force me to eat some kind of pie with nuts in it.”

“Mmm, mmm!. . . Pea-can pie!”

“Mmmmm. . . Ice cream . . . with strawberries!

“Fresh plomeek.”

“Turkey . . . . with stuffing.”

“Pumkin pie! No! No! Pumpkin curry with cilantro. . . “

“Tea and biscuits . . .”

“Protien biscuits. . . the real kind. From Rigel 10.”

Lorian poked Destiny: “Here we go again,” he said with a half-laugh. Destiny rolled her eyes and giggled.

The kids knew these list-of-food conversations could go on for hours.

Lorian stood up, from his seat on the floor. “Thanks, Mom, Dad, Cap’n, Lieutenant! Thanks for let’n me know! I don’t care how many dimensions these expansionistic Sphere Builders think they need. We’ll mow ‘em flat!

Rostov looked appreciative. “Maybe someone already did.”

“Death to the Sphere Builders!”

“Earth Will Prevail!”

Lorian smiled and started toward the lift.

“Lorian aren’t you staying? This is historic!” Trip protested.

“Tiva is leaving. I’m going to walk her back.” Lorian studiously ignored his beaming twin sister. “You got the data. We can analyze it tomorrow, right?”

Jon looked incredulous. “Lorian, You don’t analyze this data. You scan it, explore it, enjoy it. You should be here for this party.”

“Will there be drinking, . . . Cap’n?”

Jon snorted, softly. “Nice try. Not for Recruits: Regulation 409.”

“Sir, Regulation 409 is no drinking while on duty,” Malcolm reminded.

“Regulation 409 B,” Archer amended, winking at T’Pol. “(It was just added.)”

“Permission to speak freely.” It was Lorian.

“Permission granted.”

“If a Recruit is old enough to head out on the hull in one of your Apollo-era space suits, he’s old enouph to drink.”

“Hear, hear!” Malcolm called out.

“I risked my life.”

Jon grinned appreciatively: “Trip, T’Pol, it’s up to you.”

T’Pol glanced at her husband, “I don’t see why not . . . right here with us?”

“Hey, me too,” Destiny said, appealing to her own mother. “I’m as old as he is. And I discovered this phenomenon!”

“Great!” Lorian, exclaimed, as if the matter was decided. “I’ll walk Tiva to her door and be right back.”

Destiny gave him a thumbs up.

T’Pol raised an eyebrow, silently calling Lorian over to her side. In a low voice she said, “I fear Tiva may be uncomfortable with the overt hostility you and others expressed towards the Sphere Builders. She is our guest. Please see that she is reassured.”

“Yes’m.” Lorian answered quickly.

“And bring back some food,” Jon called as Lorian hurried to the lift.

“What a polite boy,” Amanda noted.

“Just like I taught him,” Trip bragged.

@@@

Lorian never returned with the food. The bridge crew had to send a second courier to the galley for snacks. Hours later, Lorian did wander back, quiet and disheveled. It was late and the party was winding down. Malcolm offered the boy a drink, and he took it. At his first sip of ale, Lorian frowned—Perhaps it was the bitter taste that cut short his first drinking spree. Still, Trip thought his son looked slightly buzzed as took up a seat on the floor and guarded his hard-won drink. Lorian leaned back against a bulkhead and took in the starry viewscreen and the conversation of his superiors:

“But if the system stays down for say a month, do we go home?”

“There is still the problem of pollution of the timeline.”

“But maybe this means that somehow time has already been polluted. Something we did, perhaps inadvertently, maybe rumors of our presence here, has caused the sphere builders to back off? And who cares if the timeline is polluted if it leads to a happier outcome. In that case I’m all for pollution.”

“We could go back to Earth and live quietly.”

“You remember Movie Night? Back to the Future? We could prevent our parents from ever meeting, blink ourselves out of existence.”

“I’d settle for a quiet life in a cabin in the mountains if it meant I could go back to Earth. Let’s head home and see if Daniels tries to stop us.”

@@@@


Comments:

Escriba
So much talk about food, now I'm hungry! :D Anyway, the beginning is hilarious, with Trip "giving advice" to his son. And awww... our Lorian is in love, so cute... I don't know what the phenomenon discovered by Destiny (such a smart girl :)) mean for the crew, but I'm curious to know.
Blackn'blue
Told ya so. :D You have a real gift for dialog.
Bether6074
I'm liking this one so far. Tiva and Lorian, huh? Interesting. Definitely realistic relationship stuff too. It's good that Trip and Malcolm were able to discuss what happened. I'll be looking forward to more. Maybe this can jumpstart me into reading again. :D
justTrip'n
I mean common misunderstanding . . . Freudian typo. Exploding eyes would constitute a BIG mispercetion.
justTrip'n
Carlos is wrong. According to my Internet sources, one's eyes would NOT explode, but it's a common misperception. EWW . . . is right!
Linda
Uh, what I wrote looks weird, one post back. I meant the image of eyes exploding that you suggested was yucky, not the story. The story is good!
Bandbabe
Wow. This is a great story! Am enjoying it very much. Looking forward to reading more! BTW, I loved "Reunion". That was an awesome story as well :D
Linda
I am glad you are posting again! I am just getting back into this story. I like the Trip/Lorian and Trip/Malcolm scenes. Eyes explode when exposed to space? Yuck, sure is nasty stuff, LOL.
Dinah
I'm glad Trip and Malcolm had this talk. It helped to clear the air. I'm looking forward to your next chapter.
Asso
Ah Ah!!! Great! I knew it! I knew it! Frankly you're the queen of angst, but... Well! There're many sorts of angst, and yours is great. Yes! Great! I look forward to your next chapter!:p
Distracted
I always expect unique viewpoints from you, justTrip'n, and you never disappoint. Tiva/Lorian is brilliant. What plot potential! I can't say I think much of T'Pol's opinion that her fetus "isn't a baby" yet, though. That's a completely illogical POV, IMO. The term fetus implies that the child has a functioning heart and neurologic tissue at the very least. Although independent existence apart from the mother is not possible at this point, and therefore a discussion regarding whether independent existence capability is a requirement for being a "person" is certainly possible, whether it's a "baby" or not is beyond question. What else would it be?
Alelou
So delighted to discover this was up! I really like this loving but realistically messy marriage and this also looks like a very promising plot.

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