Into the Lion's Den

By ginamr

Rating: PG

Genres: general drama virtual season romance au adventure

Keywords:

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Into the Lion's Den
A Virtual Season 5 Series-Revised

By ginamr

Rating: PG

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

Genre: Science Fiction/Angst/Action/Adventure

Possible spoilers: Broken Bow through Imminent

Author's Note: the ' ' are sign language translated or are mouthing.

Last time on Star Trek: Enterprise... Conflict Imminent


 

5.07-Into the Lion's Den

  

Summary: On the way to the Alliance conference, Kestra Grax is kidnapped and it's up to the Enterprise crew to save her.

 

 


 


Captain's Starlog-September 17, 2155

We have received orders from Starfleet Command to escort the Betazoids, Vulcans, Andorians, Tellarites, and the Centaurions to Earth for continued alliance talks. The hope is that these talks will be essential to the success of the campaign to defend ourselves against the Romulans.

 


 

Enterprise-Kestra's Temporary Quarters
September 17th, 2155-2200 hours

Kestra took a deep breath and slowly closed her eyes. Suddenly, she heard the door chime. "Enter."

Her eyes opened to see T'Pol enter the room. "Am I disturbing you?"

"No, please."

T'Pol sat softly on the cushion on the floor that she was offered. "I understand what it is like to lose a mother."

Kestra wrinkled her nose. "But you did not lose your mother to your aunt's greed."

T'Pol was silent for a moment. "I still miss her."

"I will never forget her and I will never stop missing her."

T'Pol nodded. "Trip has said that as time goes on, I will miss her less."

"Time will do nothing," Kestra replied bitterly, wiping the tears from her eyes.

"I am deeply aggrieved for your loss."

Kestra looked up, smiling faintly. "Thank you. I am sorry for your loss as well."

T'Pol paused. "You will do well...your Eminence." With this, T'Pol stood exiting Kestra's quarters.

 


 

Enterprise-Bridge
September 18th, 2155-1100 hours

"Sir, I'm getting sensor ghosts across the board. Someone's following us."

"Who?"

"I don't know, sir. Something's throwing the sensors off. All I can tell is that it's 5,000 meters to stern matching our every course and speed adjustment."

Archer frowned. "The Romulans?"

"Possibly, sir."

"Perhaps a concentrated burst of plasma will reveal the vessel's exact location."

Archer nodded. Archer to Engineering.

Tucker.

Trip, we're being followed; but something is creating multiple sensor ghosts and it's interfering with the scans.

I'm on it, Cap'n. Tucker out.

Archer raised his eyebrows at T'Pol, who merely raised her eyebrows in return.

Engineerin' ta Bridge. We're ready down here.

"Releasing the plasma wake."

Archer paused for several moments. "Anything?"

Reed shook his head. "Nothing yet."

"The wake is dissipating," T'Pol reported.

"I'm not picking up anything on sensors. They're gone."

 


 

Enterprise-Travis's Quarters
September 18th, 2155-2100 hours

Kestra lay in bed with Travis next to her, saying nothing.

"Everything okay?"

"Hmm?"

"You seem kind of distracted."

She sighed. "What am I going to do, Travis? I'm not ready for this."

"You seem ready to me."

"I wasn't expecting to take over for my mother this soon. I thought I would at least have a mate and a child on the way."

"Well," he began wrapping his arms around her. "Things don't always turn out the way we plan." He brushed his lips gently over hers. "I'm here if you need me."

"For how long? Until I return to Betazed and your ship continues its mission?"

He sighed. "I've been thinking..."

"Travis..."

"No, really. I've been moving around my whole life. It's time I stayed in one place...at least for a while."

"Will you not miss your ship? Your friends?"

He shrugged. "I'd miss them, yeah." He turned to her smiling. "I'd miss you more if I stayed aboard."

She laughed. "This is crazy. We've known each other three days and we're acting like we've known each other for months."

"Certainly feels like we've known each other for months."

She paused. "Travis, there's something I wish to speak with you about."

"What is it?"

She paused. "Many women on my world do not consider men as life partners. In fact, many I know do not marry. But I have always held all men as possible life partners. I have never met a man quite like you," she said softly, cupping his cheek. "No one has ever made me burn or laugh the way you can." Again, she paused. "Sexual intimacy holds more to me than satisfying primitive needs. We didn't simply have sex. There was an element of telepathic bonding."

"Kestra..."

"That is why it feels as though we have known each other for many cycles. When we were intimate, there were no barriers. I suppose your race would call it 'a binding of minds and souls'."
He said nothing, unsure of what to say. "Please, do not be upset."

He shook his head. "I'm not upset. I just-it's a lot to take in."

She frowned. "You do not want-"

"No, no. I never said that I didn't want to be with you. I just-it's weird to think that-"

"You do not think that is what happened."

"Doesn't it seem odd at all to you?"

"I suppose growing up with your mind open to strangers and their minds open to you tends to make things like this a little less shocking. As children, we learn that there are no secrets."

"Isn't it the least bit terrifying to you that this happened without us meaning for it to?"

She looked away. "You do not need to say anything further. I can see your thoughts. This isn't what you want."

"No, I-" He sighed. "Look, this is just happening a bit fast is all. I mean, I'm finding it hard to deal with the fact that I've fallen in love with you in just three days."

Her head snapped. "You...you love me?"

"As hard as it is to believe, I think I do."

She smiled faintly. "It is confusing, I know. I...I think I've fallen in love with you as well."

He laughed, bringing a hand up to cover his eyes. "Listen to us. We sound like a couple of teenagers."

"Love can do that."

He grinned. "Yeah, it can."

"So you want-?"

"More than anything."

"Let us not rush into anything. We will need time to be sure this is what we both want."

He nodded. "We have all the time in the world and if it comes to it, I'll stay with you wherever you decide to go."

She sighed. "Thank you. What would I do without you?"

He grinned. "I don't know. But how about I show you what you can do with me?"

She laughed. "Mmm. I'm always ready for more of that." She smiled kissing him sweetly.

 


 

Enterprise-Archer's Quarters
September 18th, 2155-1800 hours

Archer sighed, scratching Porthos behind the ears as he read The Martian Chronicles. Ray Bradbury was an insightful author and Archer would often read his works when he wanted to go back to the naivety of his childhood.

He looked up, slightly surprised when he heard the door chime, wondering who would be visiting him. "Enter."

To his surprise, T'Pol stepped through the doors. To him, she seemed so out of place compared to the surroundings of his quarters. As a matter of fact, he couldn't remember the last time she had stopped by his quarters for a casual chat. Of course, it could just as well be business.

"Here is the report you asked for on the incident this morning, sir."

Archer nodded. "But couldn't this have waited until in the morning?"

"I thought you would like to review it as soon as possible."

Archer smiled. "Of course." He skimmed the contents of the pad for a few moments before he realized she was still standing in front of him. He gave her a questioning look. "Was there something else?"

"You've seemed-easily distracted-as of late."

"I've had a lot on my mind," he replied dismissively.

"The crew is concerned-I am concerned."

Archer raised his eyebrows. "What exactly is it you're trying to tell me?"

"Captain, I feel that it would be prudent for you to take 24 hours to rest."

"The conference-"

"-is not for another 36 hours. You are distracted, agitated, and prone to daydreaming. Your mind is not fully on the mission. A day of rest should give you time to sort out your affairs."

"T'Pol-"

"The ship will operate smoothly without you for one day. You need the rest, Captain."

Archer sighed. "You're not going to let this go, are you?"

T'Pol raised her eyebrows. "No, I'm not."

Archer shook his head in defeat. "All right. You have the bridge."

T'Pol nodded, turning to leave. She paused for a moment before turning back to him and gently laying a hand on Archer's lower arm. "I am sure she will be fine, sir."

Archer nodded and smiled, gripping her hand with his. "I hope so."

After a few moments, Archer released her hand and watched her leave his quarters before returning to his Ray Bradbury novel with Porthos reclaiming his spot next to him.

 


 

Enterprise-Captain's Ready Room
September 19th, 2155-1100 hours

T'Pol looked up only a moment before Trip entered. "Here are those specs ya wanted, Cap..." Trip froze upon seeing T'Pol sitting in Archer's chair. "Ya actually got him to agree to it?"

"I simply did not give him the opportunity to refuse."

He grinned. "That's the best way ta talk him into something, ya know. Guess ya finally picked up on that, huh?"

"It would seem so." She paused. "There is no reason to disturb the Captain unless the information is of extreme importance."

He nodded and handed her the padd. "I managed to pull a subspace frequency from the data. It matched the Romulan ship exactly."

She nodded. "So this confirms our suspicions."

"I wonder if the others have picked up anything on their scanners."

"I will have Ensign Sato contact them."

"Well, I better get back to Engineering." Trip then turned to leave.

"Commander...Trip."

He stopped, turning back toward her. She hesitated. She didn't wish for him to leave, yet she could not think of any reason for him to stay.

"I spoke to the Captain this morning. He would like us to join him for an evening meal in the Captain's Mess."

Trip nodded. "I'll try ta find the time." He then exited the ready room.

 


 

Enterprise-Bridge
September 19th, 2155-1220 hours

"Anything, Ensign?"

"I sent them the frequency. They'll need time to look through their scans."

T'Pol nodded. "Are there any disturbances matching the frequency in the vicinity, Mr. Reed?"

Reed shook his head. "No, ma'am. Nothing."

She nodded. "Continue scanning, Mr. Reed."

"Yes, ma'am."

"Maybe they know we nearly caught them and they're backing off for the time being," Travis suggested.

"Perhaps. But we should be cautious nonetheless in case they haven't."

 


 

Enterprise-Captain's Mess
September 19th, 2155-1830 hours

"Status report?"

"The vessel was indeed Romulan. On Commander Tucker's suggestion, I had Ensign Sato contact the other ships to see if they had also picked up the vessel on their scans, but had not recognized it at the time for what it was. They reported anomalous readings matching the subspace frequency given off by the Romulan cloaking device, but were unable to pinpoint its exact location."

"Did our Romulan guests make an encore appearance?"

T'Pol shook her head. "Mr. Reed didn't pick up anything on the scanners after the previous encounter."

"Sounds ta me like a game of hide and seek, Cap'n."

"Orders, sir?"

Archer paused. "We continue as planned until they engage us."

"That is unlikely," T'Pol replied.

Archer's eyebrows shot up. "They did last time, didn't they?"

"The commander of the vessel most likely acted against his government's wishes. As I have explained to Commander Tucker, it is unusual for a Romulan fleet to make the first move. They usually wait and observe their enemy."

"What do you suggest?"

"I did not say that continuing was an illogical course of action. I was merely providing that it is unlikely that they will engage us."

"All right. Enough shop talk. You're supposed ta be relaxing, Jon."

Archer frowned. "I am."

T'Pol arched an eyebrow. "Talking about duty is hardly what I would call relaxing."

Archer smiled. "Why, T'Pol, I do believe you're becoming more Human every day."

T'Pol's eyebrows shot up. "You assume that all Vulcans discuss off-duty is what they did on duty?"

Trip shrugged. "I thought so, too. Ya don't seem ta talk about much else..."

T'Pol paused. "I have become more practiced in small talk since I first came aboard."

Trip chuckled. "It's all about effort, darlin'."

Both Trip and T'Pol avoided the Captain's gaze, knowing he must have a curious expression on his face.

'Trip-'

'Sorry. It slipped.'

'Perhaps it would be prudent if you were more cautious.'

'Maybe he won't  make anything out of it. I mean, unless he knows exactly what's going on, he doesn't have any reason ta make anything out of it-'

"All right, you two. What's going on?"

"What do ya mean? There's nothing going on."

Archer raised an eyebrow disbelievingly. "You've been having moments like this for months...you say or do something odd and then you both go quiet."

"There's nothing going on. We're allowed ta not say anything when we want to, aren' we?"

Archer sighed, dropping the subject as he knew he couldn't force either of them to give him a straight answer. "Whatever it is, make sure it doesn't interfere with your duties."

Both nodded and there was a moment of silence before T'Pol spoke. "Captain, I am curious. What novel were you perusing when I came by your quarters yesterday?"

Archer smiled, sensing her attempt to change the subject. "The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. It was written around the 19th or 20th century. A great many Earth authors used to create books about what was deemed science fiction. Space flight had scarcely come about as a possibility when the novel was written. I read it when I was a kid. It was a large part of the reason I wanted to become a starship captain and an explorer."

"I just liked fiddling with machines and a warp engine that could take me through the stars sounded like a worthwhile challenge. Now look-starship engines are my life."

Archer chuckled. "What about you, T'Pol? How did you end up serving aboard a starship?"

"My uncle. He was an Engineer aboard the S'Vien. I spent several months aboard the ship as a child and became fascinated with traveling at the speed of light. The fascination faded for a short period after my uncle's death aboard his ship in a warp core breach. Later, however, I found it to be a logical choice as I had an aptitude for ship's operations."

"So why didn' ya go inta Engineerin' instead of science?" Trip asked.

T'Pol paused. "I was not gifted with mechanical skills. I found that my gift was as a scientist."

Trip chuckled. "I was good at math, but I wasn't that great with English. I can speak it just fine, but I'm no writer. So many God damn rules-nothing is ever simple."

Archer laughed. "I remember revising his papers our last year at the Academy. I spent more time making sure he passed English than I did writing my papers."

Trip shook his head and chuckled. "Ah, shove it. I did most of your math assignments for ya."

Archer frowned. "You're exaggerating. You only did about three of my math assignments."

Trip raised an eyebrow. "Three assignments for every six ya had, ya mean."

T'Pol watched their banter with an expression of curiosity and a slight amount of amusement, the latter scarcely noticeable.

"I must admit that learning your language was my greatest challenge. One word in your language has several others to describe the exact same word."

Trip nodded. "Believe me, some of the other languages we used ta speak are a lot more complicated than English. Like in Spanish, ya have ta worry about not only using the right word, but using it with the right gender."

Archer smiled reminiscently. "I remember trying to learn French to impress a woman I was dating. It took me four months just to learn the basics and by that point, we'd broken it off. But I'm glad I tried it."

"Yeah, you were tellin' me that was how you met Hoshi," Trip added.

Archer nodded. "She was still in high school, but she came highly recommended as a language tutor from a friend."

"I know I was impressed when I first met her. Damn brilliant-if a little afraid of small spaces and space travel."

"To this day, I've never regretted choosing Hoshi as Enterprise's linguist."

Bridge to Commander T'Pol.

T'Pol stood, making her way toward the comm. panel. T'Pol.

We've got several ships on sensors matching the Romulan cloak frequency.

On my way. T'Pol out.

Then the comm was cut. Trip stood to follow T'Pol out with Archer behind him. The other two raised their eyebrows at him, but said nothing. Archer and T'Pol headed to the bridge, parting ways with Trip whom was heading toward Engineering.

 




Enterprise-Bridge
September 19th, 2155-1912 hours

 

"Report?"

"Picking up six ships on sensors, sir. All but one of the ships are concentrating fire on the Andorian, Tellerite, Vulcan, and Centurion vessels."

"Are there any weak spots in their shielding?"

"The shielding around their main power conduit is fluctuating, sir. Looks like they missed a spot when they increased their shielding."

"Target the vulnerable area, Mr. Reed."

"Aye, sir." There was a pause and Reed shook his head. "Minimal damage."

Enterprise shuddered as she took several hits in succession. "It would appear that their hull is made of a material that our weapons cannot penetrate."

"How are they able to make all of these modifications so fast? It would take months for us to make the same modifications at Jupiter Station."

"Mr. Reed, give them everything we've got. Travis, evasive maneuvers."

The ship quaked and rocked under the strain of the hits she was taking, pitching from side to side when hit at a particularly critical juncture. Panels sparked wildly and Hoshi was hit in the face by a particularly nasty explosion from her console. Phlox was called immediately to help her to Sickbay.

"Weapons are down, sir, and we only have minimal thrusters."

"We're dead in the water, Captain. Helm isn't responding," Travis shouted.

"There is an unauthorized transport in progress, sir!"

"Where?"

"Kestra Grax's quarters, sir. She's gone."

Travis felt his throat constrict, a look of pure terror on his face. "Kestra," he whispered hoarsely.

 


 

Enterprise-Engineering
September 19th, 2155-2322 hours

T'Pol strode across engineering toward the console where Trip was working. He seemed not to notice her approach.

"The Captain requested I offer my assistance," she said.

Trip nodded, not looking up from the console. "All that nearly caused a warp core breach. Eighty percent of the main circuits are fried. It's going ta take days ta fix this at Jupiter Station, much less out here in the middle of nowhere. Best I can offer is full impulse. The warp core is going ta be dead until we can repair the damaged circuits," he muttered.

Trip looked up and appeared surprised to see her as though he had not been fully aware of her standing there. "I suppose ya could help me replace some of the damaged circuits." T'Pol nodded and followed Trip toward the main circuit conduit. "I heard Hoshi got burned pretty badly when her console exploded. How is she?"

"The Doctor reports that she is experiencing a temporary loss of her auditory capabilities," T'Pol replied. "Fortunately, he was able to repair the damage to her vision. It seems that the explosion caused her to fall and the impact bruised her auditory cortex. The Doctor believes he can repair the damage there as well, but would like to allow it to heal at least partially on its own."

Trip shook his head. "Man, that's rough. A linguist who's lost her ability ta hear-even temporarily. That's got ta be devastating for her."

T'Pol tilted her head. "She is handling the situation remarkably well. Mister Reed requested that he be allowed to stay with her until she has recovered."

Trip grinned wryly. "I suppose it's lucky it wasn't your console that exploded on ya."

She paused. "Perhaps."

 


 

Enterprise-Sickbay
September 19th, 2155-2325 hours

"Hoshi, I don't understand sign language," Reed insisted.

Hoshi rolled her eyes. 'Learn it!' she signed.

He took her face in his hands, forcing her to look directly at him. "Everything's going to be all right. I promise."

Suddenly, Hoshi's eyes lit up and she smiled. 'Maybe you should get Trip to translate for you,' she mouthed. 'One of his old friend's daughters is deaf. He asked me to teach him about two years into Enterprise's mission.'

"Trip is working on the repairs in Engineering," Reed replied.

"You seem to be doing just fine on your own, Lieutenant." Reed turned, startled to see Phlox standing right behind him grinning widely. "I have heard that some Humans are rather adept at lip-reading."

Reed grimaced. "Well, I never considered myself to be one of them-until now."

Phlox frowned. "I think it would be best if Ensign Sato was removed from duty until she regains her hearing."

Reed nodded. "I agree, Doctor."

'No!' Hoshi mouthed and signed simultaneously. 'I'll be all right!'

Reed looked at her surprised. "How did you...?"

'I could read your lips!' she mouthed. 'It's not as though I'm blind on top of being deaf!'

Reed sighed and looked her directly in the eye. "Hoshi, how are you going to do your duty when you can't hear?" Reed said slowly.

Hoshi sighed, closing her eyes and tipping her head back in frustration. 'But the Captain needs me.'

Reed cupped her cheeks in his hands, causing her to open her eyes and look at him. "I know, Hoshi. But there's nothing for you to do except to recover from this and to do that, you need to rest."

Hoshi sighed and nodded reluctantly. 'All right,' she mouthed.

Phlox nodded. "Well, you're free to go. However, I'd like to see you tomorrow for a check up."

Hoshi nodded before sliding off the biobed and exiting Sickbay. Sighing, Reed followed behind her.

 


 

Unknown location-Romulan Homeworld
2oth day of
et'Khior, Year of the Sark-Time Unknown

The room was dark and cold as Kestra sat huddled in the corner. She didn't know how long she'd been captive, but she estimated it had only been one day as they had only given her two meals.

A man had come in earlier, obscured by darkness, and had tried to coerce information out of her. What kind of information the man wanted hadn't been clear at the time. She wasn't even sure why they'd taken her captive in the first place. What did they hope to achieve? Of course, she was the head of the Betazed ruling counsel, but what information would her position of authority give her that would be crucial to them?

She knew not what the Romulan's words had meant; but they had been so harsh that it gave her the notion they meant to torture her until they achieved their ends. She only prayed help found her before achieving their ends constituted her imminent death.

 


 

Captain's Starlog-September 20th, 2155

We've had little luck tracking down the ship that we believe was responsible for the kidnapping of Kestra Grax. However, Commanders Tucker and T'Pol believe examining the sensor logs from the incident will give us a great deal of insight into her kidnapping.

 


 

Enterprise-Archer's Ready Room
September 20th, 2155-1400 hours

"What do you have so far?" Archer asked.

"It looks as though they've made further modifications to their engines," Trip replied.

Archer frowned. "What kind of modifications?"

Trip shrugged. "Whatever they did, it changed their warp signature. It's like they installed a completely different engine."

Archer frowned. "How is that possible?"

Trip sighed, running a hand through his hair. "I don' know, Cap'n. It shouldn' be possible. Either they're very advanced, or a very advanced culture is helping them. But that still doesn' explain how they're making these upgrades so fast. The upgrades should still take at least a couple of months between installation and testing."

"The Romulans are not any more advanced than Earth," T'Pol countered. "Clearly, another race is providing them with this technology."

Trip grinned wryly. "Then the million-dollar questions are whose providing them with the technology and how is it being installed so quickly?"

Archer nodded. "Do you have any idea who could be providing the Romulans with this technology?"

"The only races that we have encountered with even near this level of technology are the Suliban and the Sphere Builders," T'Pol added.

Trip sighed. "From the sounds of things, whoever it is doesn't want an alliance anymore than the Romulans do."

T'Pol raised an eyebrow. "The Suliban have attempted to destroy Enterprise on two occasions and have taken you captive thrice, Captain."

"I don't think it was the Suliban," Trip said. "It was more likely the Sphere Builders."

Archer frowned. "But they can't exist in our dimension."

"I do not believe that even the Sphere Builders have achieved this level of technology," T'Pol replied.

"If not the Sphere Builders, then who? Could we be dealing with a new species here?" Archer asked.

T'Pol inclined her head. "It is possible. However, we will not be able to determine much about them."

Trip nodded his agreement. "Their technology-the details of it, anyway-didn't show up on sensors. I'm guessing they created some kind of subspace interference to stop us from getting scans and targeting' their weakness. So we'll need ta calibrate the sensors so that they can get through the interference."

Archer nodded. "Will we be able to track them down?"

Trip shrugged. "It shouldn't be a problem. The particles stick out like a sore thumb."

"Inform the other ships and have Travis follow the warp trail," Archer replied.

T'Pol nodded. "Yes, sir."

Trip and T'Pol exited the ready room, leaving Archer to ponder why the Romulans would have taken Kestra Grax.

 


 

Unknown location-Romulan Homeworld
September 20th, 2155-Unknown time


"Let me get this straight. You want me to convince my people that an alliance with the very species that attacked us is what is best for everyone?"

The Romulan smirked. "Yes. You see? I knew you were more intelligent than you were making yourself out to be."

"What makes you think I would EVER do anything of the sort?" she snarled.

"If you want to leave here alive, you will do as I say," he replied.

Kestra snorted. "You need me. You wouldn't kill me."

The Romulan's eyebrows shot up. "No? I'm sure they would find someone to replace you. Why would they want to be ruled by a child at any rate?"

"I'm not a child! I'm 40 years old!"

The Romulan chuckled. "In my culture, 40 is quite young."

Kestra glared at him. "Enough of your games. I will not be toyed with!"

He frowned. "Then we shall try again tomorrow."

The man exited the room and slammed the door, the noise echoing loudly in the cold, empty room. Kestra shrunk back against the wall once again, hugging her knees to her chest.

 


 

Captain's Log-September 21st, 2155

Commanders Tucker and T'Pol have managed to readjust the scanners to cut through the subspace interference on the frequency the Romulans used when they kidnapped Kestra Grax. Trip is confident that even if the Romulans use a different frequency this time, we should be able to adjust them to any frequency with only a little bit of fine-tuning. We've been following the warp trail the Romulans left behind, though they might have picked up on the fact that they were leaving a trail too late after disappearing. The trail is beginning to disappear at random spots as well as seemingly double back. Fortunately, Trip has been able to determine that we're still on the right track and is attempting to find another way to trace the particles.

 


 

Enterprise-Command Center
September 21st, 215-1100 hours

"The particles leave behind an energy signature that a normal sensor scan wouldn't pick up," Trip observed. "But with the modifications we've made ta the sensors, we should be able ta follow that energy signature even after the particles aren't visible ta the sensors."

Archer nodded. "Good work." He paused. "Any theories on why the Romulans would want to kidnap her in the first place?"

Trip shook his head. "It's as much of a mystery ta me as it is ta you, Cap'n."

"Perhaps the Romulans see Betazed's participation in the talks as a threat to their plans," T'Pol offered. "It is quite possible that if the Sphere Builders have found a way to meddle in the timeline again, the Romulans have conceivably been told that Kestra Grax's disappearance will cause discord between Earth and Betazed, thus ending the threats of an alliance."

Archer's lips tightened. "Well, I'll be damned if I'm going to let a kidnapping destroy the chance of an alliance. We need to find her before they hear that she's been kidnapped."

Trip nodded. "We're getting close. We should have a better idea in four or so hours."

Bridge to Captain Archer

Archer moved toward the comm, pressing the button. Archer.

We have several ships on sensors, sir. They're Romulan.

Archer frowned. On my way. Archer out.

 



Enterprise-Bridge
September 21st, 2155-1109 hours

 

Archer arrived on the bridge and moved toward the Command Chair, T'Pol moving to her station, both stumbling as the bridge lulled from side to side, occasionally lurching sharply. "Report?"

Reed frowned. "They came out of nowhere, sir, and started firing on us."

"Do we have weapons, Mr. Reed?" Archer asked.

Reed shook his head. "Barely, sir. Aft canons are down as well as one of the forward canons."

Archer straightened his shoulders. "Give them everything we've got."

After a few more shots, Reed frowned. "Captain, the ships appear to be-repairing themselves."

Archer's eyebrows shot up. "Repairing themselves?"

Reed nodded. "Yes, sir."

"Captain," T'Pol began. "I believe a low-yield burst of concentrated energy could disable their ships."

Archer nodded. "Do it."

Silence filled the bridge for a few moments. "It worked, sir," Reed reported. "We've disabled their weapons and their warp capabilities. It should take them a couple of hours to repair."

Hoshi frowned. "Sir, we're being hailed. Audio only."

"Put it through." Hoshi nodded, acknowledging the connection. "This is Captain Jonathan Archer of the Earthship Enterprise. I believe you're holding a friend of ours captive."

"She is not on board our ships, Human. You have wasted your time in pursuing us."

Archer raised an eyebrow. "Maybe not. According to our sensors, we're only two hours' journey from your homeworld at Warp three."

"You know nothing!" the man hissed.

Hoshi gave an exasperated sigh. "He's cut the connection, sir."

"See if you can get him back." He turned to Reed. "Options, Lieutenant?"

Reed paused. "If we try to board their ship and take them captive, I have the feeling that they'll destroy their ship before they'll let us take it over. Their shields are down; so we could try the transporter, but I don't know if it would reconstruct their molecules correctly."

Archer paused. "Try, Lieutenant. Ask Doctor Phlox to help you modify the transporter to recognize the Romulan biopatterns based on Vulcan physiology."

"Captain, I believe I may be of assistance as well."

Archer nodded. "Have Trip work with you."

She nodded and left the bridge just as Archer called down to Engineering to have Trip meet the others at  the transporter.

Already on my way, Cap'n. Tucker out.

 


 

Enterprise-Transporter
September 21st, 2155-1212 hours

Archer stopped behind Trip, glancing at the console on which Trip was working.

"Any luck?" Archer asked.

Trip looked up at Archer and frowned. "Nothin', Cap'n. They must have some way to prevent themselves from being transported."

Bridge to Archer.

Archer.

Sir, the Romulan vessels have activated their engines.

Archer frowned. I thought we'd disabled their engines.

We did, sir. It seems they've repaired them.

Have Travis lay in a pursuit course and match their speed.

Aye, sir.

Suddenly, the ship shook twice violently.

Archer to Bridge. Report.

Weapons and warp engines are down, sir. It's almost like they knew exactly where to aim to take them out all at once.

Archer sighed. I'm on my way, Lieutenant.

"They've probably been sitting there taking scans of us while we've been trying ta rig a way ta get them onboard," Trip muttered.

"I have no doubt." Archer then exited heading toward the lift.

Trip frowned in dismay. Thinking about Kestra's kidnapping was reawakening some of the old big brother instincts within him. Kestra's fate, if she wasn't saved, was death, given over to it by greed and survival of the ruthless. Lizzie had died at the hands of the Xindi just because she had happened to be in the path of their doomsday weapon. Elizabeth had died because of Paxton's thirst for power as well as his supremacy complex.

He hadn't known Kestra all that long; but something in her face, the way she laughed, her carefree attitude, her seeming innocence, and her brilliance reminded him of his sister, whose life had been brought to a halt far too soon.

He felt the thirst for vengeance singing through his veins once again and he knew that though he couldn't change Lizzie's fate, he could change Kestra's.

 


 

Enterprise-Bridge
September 21st, 2155-1223 hours

Archer stepped from the lift and strode to the center of the bridge. He stared at the blank viewscreen for a moment before turning to Reed.

"Any sign of them?" Archer asked.

Reed shook his head. "No, sir. But we have isolated their weapons frequency through detailed sensor scans-the one they're using at the moment, anyway."

Archer nodded. "Good work, Lieutenant." He turned to Mayweather. "Travis, continue on our heading, maximum impulse."

"Aye, sir."

"I'll be in my ready room." Archer then left the bridge.

 


 

Enterprise-Archer's Ready Room
September 21st, 2155-1523 hours

Archer looked up when he heard the chime. "Enter."

Trip stepped through the doors with T'Pol, both holding padds. "Captain, we have reached the coordinates of the Romulan homeworld," T'Pol said, she and Trip handing him the padds that they held.

"We've been working with Malcolm on a rescue operation and we think we can get her out of there," Trip added.

Archer skimmed the information on the padds and nodded. "What information have you gotten on what we'll be facing?"

T'Pol paused. "Our sensors have discovered that the Romulans abandoned this planet long ago." She continued when Archer frowned. "However, they still use its compounds to house prisoners of war. It is logical that Kestra Grax would be transported and held here."

"The compound is run by hired hands, Cap'n. Looks like the Romulans have other people ta do the tough jobs fer them." Trip pointed to a location on a map that one of the padds was currently displaying. "We should be able ta get in here, but we're goin' ta need somethin' ta distract the guards."

Archer paused. "Did you have anything specific in mind?"

Trip paused. "Well, a fight amongst the prisoners should distract them long enough for us ta slip past."

Archer nodded. "Has Malcolm got a team together?"

"Yes, sir," Trip confirmed. "I asked him ta count me in."

Archer looked up, slightly surprised at his friend's decision to be a part of the rescue party. "You're sure? This is going to be dangerous, Trip. This isn't a game of cowboys and Indians."

Trip nodded. "Yes, sir. I know. I just-This is personal."

Archer's brow furrowed as he regarded his best friend. "Be careful, Trip."

"I will, Cap'n." With this, Trip and T'Pol exited the ready room.

 


 

Enterprise-Armory
September 21st, 2155-1539 hours

Archer entered the Armory to see Reed handing out weapons and issuing orders.

"Lieutenant," Archer greeted.

Reed inclined his head. "Sir. May I assume that you wish to join the rescue party?"

Archer grinned. "You read my mind, Lieutenant."

"No, sir-I just know you all too well," Reed replied, smirking and offering Archer a phase pistol.

"Is everyone ready to go?" Archer asked.

"Aye, sir," Reed replied. "We're just waiting for Commander Tucker."

At that precise moment, Trip entered the Armory dressed in Starfleet camouflage gear, like the others. The sight would have been rather clichéd were it not for the uncharacteristically serious look crossing his face.

Archer's eyebrows shot up in surprise, wondering where this new Trip had come from.

"I didn' know ya were comin', Cap'n," Trip offered as a greeting.

Archer grinned. "You should know by now that I don't like being left behind."

Trip nodded. "Yeah, I should have figured."

Archer paused. "Trip, what's going on?"

Trip seemed to pause for a moment before replying, "I'm doing what I wasn't there ta do for Lizzie and what I couldn't do for Elizabeth. I'm going ta make sure that Kestra doesn't die just because those power-hungry sonuvabitches can't stand ta have anyone tread on their turf."

Archer sensed more differences than just the air of seriousness about Trip. Something about Kestra's situation was making Trip vulnerable. He could see the hurt and fear in his friend's eyes, and was surprised to see it so plainly. Trip had become extremely emotionally withdrawn since his sister's death, but now it was almost as though he were seeing a glimmer of the old Trip.

He stood speechless, unsure of just how to respond to Trip's behavior. He settled for a nod and a hand gripping his friend's shoulder tightly in support.

A faint smile crossed Trip's lips as he acknowledged his friend's support, knowing that he would need it in order to think clearly about what he needed to do to get Kestra back on board Enterprise.

"All right, men. Let's move." The team made their way toward the Launch Bay.

 


 


S'avik Prison Complex-Romulan homeworld
September 21st, 2155-1559 hours

They stood just outside the entrance gates to the compound, hiding in a rather large bush, going over their rescue plan again.

"And then we exit this way," Reed said pointing to a back-door. "Everyone got it?"

They all nodded. "Now ta figure out how ta start a fight without getting seen," Trip muttered.

He stared at the ground, trying to think. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a pile of stones. Suddenly, he had an idea. He picked up one of the stones and poked his head around the corner, looking for the toughest guy he could find.

The others watched, confused.

At last, he found him. The man was Klingon and about seven feet tall. He drew back and threw the stone as hard as he could, hitting the Klingon in the back of the head and ducked quickly back behind the wall.

"Bloody hell, Trip! Have you lost your bleedin' mind?" Malcolm whispered harshly.

They heard a shout in what Trip assumed was Klingon and Trip peaked around the wall to see the Klingon shoving a man who appeared to be Suliban. The Suliban hissed in his native tongue and pushed right back. The Klingon rushed forward, his hands grasping the man's neck. Some of the others watching raced to help one or the other while the rest cheered them on.

It was only after the fight had started to get unstoppably out of control that the guards came forward with weapons to break it up only to end up in the fight themselves.

"They're busy," Trip whispered. "Let's go."

With this, they slipped in and moved along the walls. Fortunately, they went unnoticed by the on-lookers who were too involved in their cheers to notice anyone on the fringe.

The doors were generally locked, but there were some that weren't. The guards that they came across they were able to take down with little force before those guards alerted the rest of the compound to their presence.

After having opened dozens of doors, Trip was beginning to fear that they wouldn't find her in time. Praying to any and all gods, he opened the next unlocked door. He saw a young woman flinch in a corner and rushed toward her. Getting a better look at her, he realized it was Kestra.

"It's me...Trip," he said softly.

"T-Trip?"

He nodded. "Yeah. Don' ya remember me?"

Kestra burst into tears and threw herself at him, hugging him tightly. "I was so afraid I would never see you again!"

He hugged her back, rocking her in his arms. "It's okay. It's okay. I'm here now. It's over."

The others burst into the room and stopped dead when they saw Trip holding Kestra and comforting her.

"We need ta get moving before the guards realize we're here." He turned to Kestra. "Can ya walk?"

"I-I don't know. My legs-I can't feel them."

Trip's features contorted slightly and he lifted her into his arms, carrying her like a small child. "All right, let's move."

The group was just about to leave the room when the door closed and locked. Trip squatted down, balancing Kestra on his knees, holding a flashlight up and using his free hand to tear the cover off the panel. He examined the wires.

He grimaced. "Damn. Motion sensors. Whenever someone gets near the door from the inside, it shuts it and locks it."

"That explains why the door was always unlocked," Kestra muttered.

Archer frowned. "Can you rewire it?"

Trip pulled a portable screwdriver and a pair of wirecutters from a hidden pocket in his jacket. "I can try."

Archer nodded. "Do the best that you can." He then pulled out a communicator. Archer to Enterprise.

T'Pol.

T'Pol, we've run into a snag. If we don't contact you again in ten minutes, get out of the sector.

There was a slight pause on the other end before T'Pol replied Yes, sir.

"Here. Hold this for a second," he said handing Kestra the pair of wirecutters. "And hold this flashlight for me." She took the flashlight, holding it so it lit up the panel.

He looked carefully at the circuit panel, squinting to read the numbers on the resistors. He held out his hand for the wirecutters and when they were handed to him, he used them to disconnect the 10K ohm resistor from the jumper. Sparks flew up, causing Trip to fall backwards, taking Kestra with him.

"Ya all right?" Trip asked.

She nodded. "What happened?"

"I guess they have it hooked up ta some kind of outside power source."

Reed rattled the door handle. "It's still locked."

"Yeah, I need ta cut one more wire."

Kestra stared at him in horror. "What if you cut the wrong one?"

Trip sighed. "It's a chance we'll have ta take. Everybody stand back. Hold the light a little higher, Kestra."

He knelt before the panel again, the wirecutters ready in his hands. He looked back at the others, giving them a half grin before his attention returned to the panel. He drew in a deep breath, sliding the cutters to what he hoped was the right wire and counting softly to three before cutting the wire.

He braced himself for another shower of sparks, but none came. He opened his eyes and released a sigh of relief.

"The door is unlocked," Reed said, opening the door. He peaked his head out and looked around to make sure that no one was coming. "The coast is clear."

Trip lifted Kestra into his arms once again and the group moved out. Just as they were rounding a corner, a weapon's blast impacted the metal beam right next to Trip's head. They pulled back around the corner and leaned against the walls behind the metal beams.

"We have four minutes, sir."

Trip sat Kestra down, leaning her against the wall and paused for a moment, listening. He then brought the weapon to ready and swung around the corner, firing and hitting one of the guards coming at them before returning to the safety behind the metal beam.

"I say if we're going down, let's go down fighting."

The others followed Trip's lead, shots occasionally hitting and occasionally missing their targets until there were no more guards coming. They were just about ready to move toward the exit when a guard attacked Trip from behind.

He struggled for a few moments before driving his foot back into the man's knee and flipping him over his shoulder with a heaving grunt. He rushed forward to pick up Kestra, ignoring the looks of shock on the others' faces and raced toward the exit. The others soon followed, occasionally firing shots off at approaching guards.

By the time they had reached the shuttlepod, they were ducking shots. Trip bolted inside, hurriedly strapping Kestra into one of the seats and jumping into the helm seat at the front, his fingers grazing the controls as Reed and Archer closed the shuttlepod doors. The other two crewmen took their seats at the back of the pod while Archer and Reed rushed forward to claim the remaining two.

Outside, they could hear the shots reverberating off the hull.

Archer to Enterprise.</I?

A moment later, T'Pol responded, sounding far less tense. T'Pol.

We're on our way back, but we might have a couple assailants on our tail.

Understood. We'll prepare for your arrival and the arrival of any enemy ships. T'Pol out.

"Was it just me or did Commander T'Pol sound relieved?" Reed observed.

"She thought we wouldn't make it," Trip replied. "We did cut that ten minutes awful close." The shuttlepod rattled violently. "We've got two enemy ships ten degrees ta port closing in." Again, the ship shook. "We're losing warp, but we're clearing the atmosphere. Closing in on the Launch Bay. Everyone hang on. This is going ta get bumpy."

The little vessel shook as it ascended into the Launch Bay, barely making it in intact.

The craft doors opened instantly and Trip bolted from them, carrying Kestra.

All officers and crew to their posts. I repeat, all officers and crew to their posts.

"I'll drop her off on my way to Engineering." Then, Trip was gone.

Archer nodded and Reed followed him, both headed toward the bridge.

 


 

Enterprise-Bridge
September 21st, 2155-1620 hours

Archer gripped the edge of the lift to keep from being knocked to the ground as the ship shook violently beneath his feet. Reed slipped past him, somehow managing to keep his balance as he quickly took his place at his station. The crewman who had been standing there strode toward the lift and exited the bridge.

Archer at last made it to his chair at the center of the bridge. "Report!"

Reed frowned. "Aft canons are down, sir!"

"Travis, get us out of here!" Archer shouted.

Travis frowned. "I can't, sir! Helm isn't responding."

A tense silence fell over the bridge before they became aware of a proximity alarm beeping.

"Captain, sensors are picking up two ships on an intercept course. They're assuming attack posture. They're...they're Andorian, sir. And there's a Vulcan ship behind them."

Archer let out a relieved sigh. "Mr. Reed, target the lead Romulan ship and give her all we've got."

Reed nodded. "Aye, sir."

Within moments, the rattling had halted and the calm of the bridge was restored.

Reed sighed in relief. "They're retreating."

Archer nodded. "T'Pol, you have the bridge. I'm going to Sickbay to check on Ms. Grax."

Archer then entered the lift with Travis slipping in behind him. "Is she all right?" he asked.

Archer nodded. "She was slightly shaken when Trip took her to Sickbay, but other than that she seemed fine."

Travis breathed a sigh of relief. "I'd like to speak with her, sir-if it's all right with Phlox."

Archer nodded. "You can ask him."

 


 

Enterprise-Sickbay
September 21st, 2155-1625 hours

Trip gazed at her sternly and Kestra sighed in annoyance. "I'm fine, Trip. Really," she insisted.

Trip frowned. "Ya sure don't look it."

She smiled faintly. "I've just been scared out of my mind is all. I'm fine."

He sighed. "You're sure?" She nodded. "All right."

She paused. "I remind you of your sister, Elizabeth."

Trip froze and was silent for a moment. "Yeah. Ya do."

"Is that why you joined the rescue party?" Trip grimaced. "It is not something you normally do, Trip. I know you, remember?"

Again, he sighed. "Yeah, that was part of the reason."

She paused. "Then what was the other part?"

He grinned wryly. "I guess I was getting tired of not being able ta protect my friends and family."

Kestra grinned. "You would do the same for T'Pol?"

Trip nodded. "In a heartbeat."

She smiled. "Does she know that you love her?"

Trip sighed. "I like ta think she does."

Kestra frowned. "Then why are you not wed?"

He paused. "Things aren't quite on our side right now. Our relationship has ta be kept a secret for just a while longer. I still haven't explained the whole thing ta the Cap'n."

"Hello, Captain. Ensign. They're right through here," they heard Phlox say.

The curtains were then pulled back and Archer moved toward the bed, followed by Travis, who took Kestra's hands in his and kissed her lips.

"Are you all right?" he asked.

Kestra rolled her eyes and let out an exasperated sigh. "Yes, I'm fine-as I've told Trip countless times."

Travis frowned slightly and looked up to see Trip standing there. He was acting as though he hadn't even realized Trip was in the same room.

"May I speak with Travis for a moment alone?" Kestra asked.

Archer and Trip nodded, giving the two their privacy. Trip sat down on the edge of one of the biobeds, rubbing his eyes.

Archer paused. "What aren't you telling me, Trip?"

Trip looked up, slightly startled and realized that he must have heard the last bit of his conversation with Kestra.

He sighed. "I can't, Cap'n. Not now."

"If it's something that could endanger you or someone else-"

Trip rolled his eyes. "It's nothing like that. It's just-kind of personal. And I promised, Cap'n."

Archer nodded. "So how is she?"

Trip grimaced. "She's insisting she's fine."

Archer paused. "You don't believe her?"

"Would you be?" Trip snapped.

Archer frowned. "Trip, she isn't Lizzie."

Trip buried his face in his hands. "I know, but I can' help but think she is. She's so much like her." He pulled his hands away and Archer was surprised to see the tears in his friend's eyes. "When I look at her, I see Lizzie."

Archer paused before placing a comforting hand on Trip's shoulder. "It's all right, Trip."

Trip wiped his eyes, avoiding Archer's gaze. "I'm sorry, Cap'n. Gawd, this is embarrassing," he said, laughing weakly.

There was a tense moment of silence between them.

Bridge to Captain Archer.

Archer moved toward the wall unit, pressing the button.

Archer.

There's a communication for you, sir. It's Admiral Greene.

Archer nodded. On my way.

He looked behind him one last time at Trip, smiling reassuringly before heading toward his ready room.

TBC...

 

 


Comments:

BnB
This is becoming increasingly interesting. I think the romance with Travis and Kestra is a bit rushed, and the Romulans are acting a little bit irrationally, but the rest of it is quite gripping. I'm really looking forward to the next one.
ginamr
Aww. Great to know I have a fan. More will be coming. I'm just about to send out "A Deadly Alliance" for editing. It should be done soon.
Asso
This series has always been among my favorite Fics. If you read this one, there's no reason to ask the why. Romance, angst, drama, adventure....what else want you? To not mention the wonderful style.

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