Winds of Change - Part 2

By ginamr

Rating: PG-13

Genres: virtual season general drama au adventure romance

Keywords:

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Star Trek-The Continuing Voyages of the Enterprise
A Virtual Season 5 Series-Revised

By ginamr

Rating: PG-13

Disclaimer: Only new characters and 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.

Author's Note: Hoshi's regained her hearing, yay! And, of course, Erika's back in action!

And I know I keep changing which canon details I'm including...But I don't think I'm breaking too much from canon...the only things in These Are The Voyages that are wrong in my universe is that T'Pol has met Trip's parents before and that Trip isn't really dead.

Also, I'm sorry if the dates from previous stories are confusing. I had to rework some things to make my series fit certain events in the Earth-Romulan War. I will be posting a timeline of events for my series at this web link.

 

Last time on Star Trek: Enterprise...Winds of Change, Part 1

5.11-Winds Of Change, Part 2

Summary: The winds of time are changing lives in irreversible, unforeseeable ways. The crew of the Enterprise fights to track down a mysterious murderer while keeping the talks for an alliance alive. Will they be able to keep their plans from falling through?

 


 

Earth-San Francisco, California-Outside Starfleet Headquarters
October 2nd, 2155-1343 hours

As the hovercar approached Headquarters, its passengers saw a large mob of hundreds waving signs. They were unable to read the words from this distance, but the crowd's sympathies weren't hard to guess. The seven exchanged looks of concern. This rally likely would turn violent, as past protests by xenophobes had.

They exited the vehicle and began their walk toward the front entrance. The noise level was so great that Archer couldn't make out a word of their escort's cautions. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw T'Pol covering her ears. It must be her more acute hearing. He couldn't imagine the jumble of voices being much louder than it was.

His gaze shifted to Trip, and he noticed that the engineer was wearing noise-eliminating earpieces. T'Pol took the pair that Trip offered her and slipped them into her ears, nodding her thanks.

Grinning wryly, he wished that he'd thought to bring his. Then again, he hadn't been expecting a mob of protestors that sounded like a nest of loud, angry hornets, or he would certainly have made sure he slipped them into his pocket.

Suddenly, the voices came together as one, chanting something over and over. He couldn't quite make it out no matter how hard he focused. A touch on his shoulder startled him and he turned to find Hoshi standing there.

'Terra Prime forever,' she mouthed.

Archer frowned and looked around the crowd as they fought through. It seemed that Paxton's exile had drummed up a lot of support for Terra Prime's cause and he had no doubt that Paxton's right hand men and women had instigated this rally.

From where he was standing in the crowd, he could see the angry scowls of several men and women, all of whom looked like puffed-up pigeons ready to attack. The mob was pushing against the gates that had been set up, trying to shove their way through them.

Without warning, many dozens of faces turned toward them, shouting obscenities and hissing at them, a few shoving at them. Archer grabbed Erika's arm and jerked his head to the left, indicating for her to walk behind him. She gave him an exasperated look, doing as he said.

Archer looked over his shoulder to see T'Pol struggling against a man's grip on her arm and moved to help her. Trip beat him to it, driving his fist into the man's face and pulling her away.

At last, they made it through the front gates and through the entrance doors. Archer enveloped Erika in a hug and she returned it, causing her crutches to fall to the floor. He looked over her shoulder to see Trip offering comfort in much the same fashion to a shaken T'Pol, hugging her tightly to him and brushing his lips over her forehead in a soft, lingering kiss. Moments later, she regained her composure and pulled away, blushing slightly. Trip grinned sheepishly, staring at his feet as he rubbed the back of his neck.

"Admiral Greene will see you now," their escort offered.

Archer nodded, returning Erika's crutches to her before the group followed him to the briefing room.

 


/p>

Earth-San Francisco, California-Starfleet Headquarters-Briefing Room 6Alpha
October 2nd, 2155-1359 hours

Greene looked around at the six people in the room. "You all know that our first official encounter with the Romulans was through Enterprise in the minefield. However, there were some other occurrences that, until recently, remained secret, even to me. A couple of months before the encounter in the minefield, United Earth Intelligence received indications of a previously unknown race that was expanding into Earth occupied space." He paused. "Our survey ships were picking up readings of manned stations where before there had been none, and alien starships appearing out of nowhere. A joint United Earth Space Navy and United Earth Space Probe Agency mission was sent to make sense of these readings. A message probe was sent from the Kursk after picking up readings of several unknown vessels on the extreme edge of sensor range. It isn't known exactly why the unknown ships engaged them. We believe that they mistakenly took the launch of the message probe as a sign of aggression. All of the survey vessels, with the exception of the UES Cortes, were destroyed."

Archer frowned. "From what I can see, this is all simply a misunderstanding." He paused. "There's something missing. It just doesn't fit. Why would they be so on edge?"

Greene grimaced. "I know, but we have the information that we have. Also, one of our ships observed a Romulan vessel surveying Galorndon Core in September of 2153. Following this, a freighter, the Nakajima Maru, reported some strange readings in their wake last January. And, of course, there's the disappearance of the Balboa last October."

Reed frowned. "With all due respect, sir, why hasn't Starfleet taken action before now?"

Greene paused, looking rather uncomfortable, and cleared his throat. "The President wanted this kept under wraps until he saw cause for any further concern."

Trip sighed. "In other words, 'Let's ignore it and hope it goes away'."

This earned Trip a rather sharp look from Greene. "It was the President's decision, Commander."

Reed snorted. "Again, sir, with all due respect, Commander Tucker is right. If we've learned anything, it's that ignoring a situation only makes it worse. I could understand not wanting the situation to cause a public panic, but something should have been done after the first attempt at peace failed."

Greene turned to Archer, seemingly looking to him to silence his crew. Archer said nothing, giving the Admiral a look that indicated he clearly agreed with them.

"As you can see, Admiral, this course of action has proven illogical. Ignoring this situation has obviously driven the Romulans to view Earth as a threat."

He turned his attention toward T'Pol and something in his eyes unsettled her. It went far beyond anger at her for speaking against him. She held his gaze unwaveringly, despite the chills running through her.

"They've attacked Starfleet vessels without provocation! They've made the first aggressive movements! We've tried negotiating, but to no avail. We have only one option! We need to push them back before they destroy Earth!"

The other six in the room gazed at him, frowning. "Admiral, did you not say that they mistook the launch of the Kursk's message probe as a sign of aggression?" She paused, allowing the others to take this in. "Is it not then us, in their view, whom have made the first aggressive movements?"

Greene stared at her. "Well...yes...I suppose..."

T'Pol's eyebrows shot up. "You most likely also know from the information in the Vulcan database that has been provided to you that the Romulans, or the Rihannsu as we call them, do not attack first...that they observe their enemy to gauge what they are dealing with."

"Well, yes, naturally I..." Greene grunted in frustration, narrowing his eyes at her. "What are you suggesting, Commander?"

She tilted her head slightly. "I am merely suggesting, Admiral, that perhaps this decision should be based on more sound motives if, indeed, we are responsible for the first act of aggression."

"We can't sit around and wait for them to attack us! The President refuses to have a repeat of the Xindi attack!"

Archer grinned wryly. "The President or Starfleet?"

Greene stiffened. "You're out of line, Jon."

"I think the President hasn't said anything either way, so you're taking matters into your own hands," Erika observed.

His cheeks flushed with anger. "You have your orders and you WILL follow them. Meanwhile, the UES Voltaire has been dispatched to the sector where the attack took place. They'll return in ten days. Be finished with your investigation into the Vulcan junior ambassador's murder by then. Dismissed."

The six people moved toward the exit, Greene's gaze narrowing as he watched T'Pol leave.

"Commander Cross!" Greene barked.

Cross turned and walked back toward the Admiral, seeing the puzzled look on his Captain's face as she left.

"Yes, sir?"

Greene grunted. "I want you to keep an eye on Commander T'Pol."

Cross gave him a confused look. "Sir?"

"That's an order, Commander. Follow it or you'll find yourself busted back to crewman before you can say 'unfair'."

Cross swallowed and nodded. "Yes, sir."

Greene waved a hand glibly. "Dismissed."

Again, Cross nodded and strode from the room. Once he had left, Greene sat back down in the chair massaging his temples. "She's trouble," he muttered before finishing his notes of the briefing.

 


 

Earth-San Francisco, California-Starfleet Headquarters-Gardener's Office
October 2nd, 2155-1445 hours

There was a knock at the door and Admiral Gardner looked up from the reports he was reading. "Come in."

His secretary smiled weakly. "The ambassadors of Vulcan, Andoria, Tellar, and Betazed to see you, Admiral."

"Escort them in, Ms. Carr."

The woman stepped inside followed by Shran, Soval, Kestra, and Gral.

"Admiral," Shran greeted.

Gardner inclined his head. "What can I do for you, Ambassadors?"

Kestra sighed. "I regret to inform you that the Betazed Ruling Council has chosen to withdraw Betazed from the talks." Gardner frowned. "I'm sorry, Admiral. There's nothing I can do. I've been overruled. But know that you will always have my support should you need it."

Shran and Soval exchanged glances. "I'm afraid that's why all of us are here, Admiral," Shran offered. Gral nodded his agreement. "But though our governments have withdrawn from the talks, Ambassador Soval and I have chosen to stay behind to support your planet and to support Archer in the elimination of the Romulan threat."

Again, Gardner frowned. "If you withdraw, you'll only be giving them what they've wanted. Without an alliance, we are all vulnerable to the Romulan thirst for conquest."

Shran nodded. "Though I agree completely, Admiral, I cannot change the decision of the Andorian government. But I can set an example for my people. Hopefully, the governors will soon see reason."

Gardner sighed. "I understand. I appreciate your support, Ambassadors." He turned to Kestra. "It is Earth's hope that Betazed will rejoin the talks when they resume."

A smile spread across the young woman's lips and she nodded. "I do not doubt that the council shall see the error of their decision much sooner. Perhaps it is time for the blending of a new council with the old. The older members are rigid in their ways and will not conform to changing times."

With a nod of recognition, Admiral Gardner gave his thanks. Kestra and Gral left while Soval and Shran stayed.

Gardner grinned. "You'd like the details of Enterprise's mission, no doubt?" The two men nodded, taking the pads that Gardner offered them. "Jon and Erika could use all of the help they can get." He grinned wryly. "Jimmy didn't want Erika back just yet, but he was overruled, thank God. We can't have Jon flying around half-cocked because he's worried about his fiancée."

Shran's lips turned up, while Soval merely raised his eyebrows at the colorful picture the expression painted. It was Soval's deduction that there was more to the decision than personal concerns, however. He had had the opportunity to review the female captain's record and had been quite impressed. She, to borrow a human expression, put even some of the Vulcan High Command's officers to shame.

"If that's all, Admiral, Commander Shran and I have several things to discuss."

Gardner grinned and nodded. "Of course. Again, thank you."

The two men nodded, leaving the room.

 


 

Captain's Starlog~October 3rd, 2155

I've been thinking over Admiral Greene's behavior yesterday as well as doing some research into the recent rallies on Earth. Something isn't quite fitting with his or Starfleet's story. I have a feeling this goes far deeper than a misunderstanding. Lieutenant Reed has made a small amount of progress with determining a good place to start.

 


 

Enterprise-Captain's Ready Room
October 3rd, 2155-1123 hours

Reed sighed. "Unfortunately, sir, there isn't much to go on at the moment. We have some sensor readings of an unidentified tachyon signature detected entering Earth's orbit the day the talks began. It disappeared soon after the Ambassador's death. It gives us a possible set of destination coordinates, but no more."

A slight frown spread over Archer's lips. He'd been hoping for more than some faint sensor readings. "Work with T'Pol to match the coordinates to the starcharts. See if you can't find out where they were off to in such a rush."

Reed nodded. "Aye, sir."

He exited Archer's ready room, leaving Archer alone to think. Archer hoped that his two best investigators would find something. A set of coordinates could mean everything or nothing. He only hoped that they proved useful in their manhunt. Thus far, they hadn't detected the stolen ship on sensors and they hadn't gotten any unusual readings. God only knew where the coordinates would lead them.


 

Earth-Los Angeles, California-Foxton Studios-Live Recording
October 3rd, 2155-1700 hours

The young female news anchor shuffled the papers in front of her and cleared her throat, clasping her hands together on the desk in front of her.

"Good evening, United Earth. We interrupt your regular programming to bring you a Foxton News special report."

Suddenly, an image of protestors appeared in the upper right hand corner of the screen with the headline "Protestors Die In Violent Uproar".

"Early this morning, a protest against the interstellar alliance was held outside of Starfleet Headquarters. Protestors were in an uproar over the recent initiation of talks for an alliance with four alien planets: Tellar, Betazed, Andoria, and Vulcan. Twelve protestors were killed in the violence and several dozen others were seriously injured, two dozen of those in critical condition."

She paused, glancing down at her notes. "The question that all of United Earth is asking: Why hasn't Starfleet done anything to prevent further deaths? An even better question would be: Is an interplanetary alliance what Earth needs, or will these talks spell disaster for United Earth citizens?"

 



Earth-Starfleet Headquarters-San Francisco, California-Admiral Greene's Office
October 4th, 2155-0834 hours

 

"You just...can't," Admiral Greene protested weakly.

He'd been exchanging communiqués with the alien Ambassadors all morning, doing his duty in trying to convince them to reenter the negotiations.

Shran sighed. "I'm sorry, Admiral. My people haven't changed their minds about allying with Earth. As I told Admiral Gardner, Starfleet and Archer have my full support. Not only that, but Ambassador Soval is, for once, in full agreement with me."

Greene nodded. "Let me know if your government has any change of heart."

Shran inclined his head, acknowledging the human idiom. "You have my word, Admiral." The Andorian then cut the comm, leaving a slightly exasperated Admiral Greene staring at the screen.

 


 

Enterprise-Archer's Quarters
October 8th, 2155-2001 hours


Trip stared at the glass in his hands, his tongue pressed against the inside of his cheek. "I take it you heard from Columbia."

Archer nodded, pouring himself another glass of amber liquid. "I did. I'm happy to say the message was from Erika herself. I've been worrying about her since we left spacedock. Apparently, Admiral Greene was getting impatient, so he decided to send her out after us with a battle fleet in tow."

Sighing, Trip shook his head. "Damn, Jon. This just keeps sounding more and more like a war."

Archer nodded. "We need more time," he said, frustrated.

Again, Trip sighed. "You knew we weren't going to get the time we needed. Starfleet doesn't want to talk with the Romulans. They want a reason to fight them."

Archer took a large gulp from his glass and closed his eyes, leaning his head back. "Something isn't right here, Trip. Something just doesn't make sense."

 


 

Enterprise-Command Centre
October 14th, 2155-0232 hours

"Here," T'Pol said, indicating an empty region of space on the Vulcan starchart.

Archer frowned. "You're sure? It looks like empty space to me."

She paused, nodding. "I am certain." This time, she pointed to a star a short distance up on the map. "The coordinates are located near the Zeti Reticuli star system."

Moving forward, Archer's gaze flitted over other nearby star systems in an attempt to find out what significance Zeti Reticuli could have. "Why there?" Archer said, more to himself than to her.

"The coordinates could be to a space station bordering known space," Reed theorized.

Archer frowned. "If that's true, they're probably expecting us."

Reed nodded. "Of that I have no doubt. I'm having Em work with a few of the engineering personnel to be sure that our weapons are up to snuff."

"Also, Commander Tucker and I have been working to increase warp drive efficiency so that power may be diverted more equally to other systems."

Archer inclined his head. "Good work." He paused. "How much longer will it take us to reach the coordinates?"

Trip sighed. "At warp four, at least another week."

"Can you pull any more speed from the engines?" Archer asked.

Frowning, Trip shook his head. "I don't know, Cap'n. We're already pushin' it. The calibrations T'Pol and I made to the power conduits are causin' 'em to use up a lot of energy that would normally be devoted to stabilizing the warp field at higher speeds."

Archer sighed. "Do your best. Dismissed."

 


 

Enterprise-Mess Hall
October 15th, 2155-1237 hours

Trip picked at his lunch, occasionally looking up at T'Pol. She'd been oddly withdrawn the last couple of weeks. He frowned. Things had been awkward between them lately, and it frustrated him to no end, as he had no idea why.

He paused and cleared his throat, causing her gaze to lock with his. "Are you all right?"

"I'm fine," she replied coolly, returning to her lunch.

He sighed, laying a hand on top of hers. Flinching, she pulled it away. "T'Pol-what's wrong?"

Once again, she met his gaze and he could see the dark circles beneath her eyes. "I'm fine."

"You sure don't look it," he said sternly.

She paused. Her gaze dropped to her hands. "It is a stressful time. I have been having difficulty sleeping."

He frowned. "It's the bond, isn't it?"

She nodded. "I have-missed you."

He laid his hand on top of hers again and smiled. "I've missed you, too." Her hand shook on the tea cup as she raised it to her lips to take a sip. Trip paused and lowered his voice. "I'll tell you what-why don't you sleep in my quarters with me tonight?"

"Trip-"

He shook his head. "You need sleep, T'Pol and frankly, so do I. If sleeping in the same bed will get us that, I think it's the most logical thing we can do. We can't keep runnin' on zero sleep. Like you said, let the rest of the crew think what they like."

Reluctantly, T'Pol nodded in agreement. "And perhaps a neuropressure session."

Trip smiled, nodding. "We haven't had much time for those lately, have we? Sounds good." He stood and picked up his tray. "See you at 1900 hours." He then set the tray down on the stack of dirty ones before exiting the Mess Hall."

 


 

Enterprise-Trip's Quarters
October 15, 2155-2342 hours

"It's almost midnight, T'Pol," Trip grumbled. "Quit squirmin'."

T'Pol turned toward him, both eyebrows raised. "I am not squirming."

He sighed. "Just go to sleep."

Several moments later, he groaned softly and rolled over onto his back. "You're doing it again," he said, scrubbing his hands over his face.

"I'm not squirming. You are."

He turned to her, frowning. "This isn't working, is it?" Sighing, he shook his head. "I'm sorry. You were right. This is a bad idea."

She paused for a moment before leaning toward him, brushing her lips over his. Pulling back slightly, she stared into his eyes.

He swallowed. "What was that for?"

"Was the gesture not appropriate?"

He hesitated. Such a loaded question with such a complicated answer. "It was just...unexpected." He smiled slightly. "It was nice."

T'Pol nodded her agreement. "Yes, it was."

They gazed at one another for several moments before Trip leaned forward, pressing his lips gently against hers. Her body relaxed against his, her lips parting, and she sighed softly. He raised a shaking hand and cupped her cheek, his eyes drifting closed. Several moments later, he pulled away slowly, releasing a deep breath. The lighting of the room reflected in her brown eyes, stealing his breath.

"We'd better get some sleep," he said breathlessly.

She nodded, pursing her lips slightly. "Yes. We have a great deal of work ahead of us tomorrow."

The two lay down and Trip hesitated for a moment before wrapping his arms around her waist from behind. She tensed at first, but slowly relaxed in his arms. Within moments, the two were drifting in the world of dreams with contented smiles upon their faces.

 


 

Enterprise-Reed's Quarters
October 16, 2155-1823 hours

Hoshi sighed as she snuggled closer to Malcolm. They lay together partially clothed on his bunk, the reading light glowing above them. He pulled his hand from her hair to turn the page, his fingers once again stroking through her hair as he read.

"Malcolm?" she said softly.

"Hmm?"

"What happens if we die?"

Frowning, he inserted the bookmark and set the book down, turning his full attention to her. "What do you mean, love?"

She sighed. "What happens if we run into a Romulan ship, but this time we don't survive?"

Reed brushed his lips softly over her forehead before looking into her eyes and twining the fingers of his free hand with hers. "What brought this on?"

She looked at their intertwined fingers and swallowed roughly. "If they can get past Starfleet security and kill an ambassador, who's to say they can't destroy Enterprise without so much as lifting a finger?"

"Shh," he said reassuringly. "Everything's going to be all right, Hoshi. We're not going to die."

Her lower lip trembled, the moisture glistening in her eyes. "I hope not. I can't imagine not being here tomorrow."

Reed sighed, wrapping both arms around her and hugging her tightly to him, rocking her gently. "Neither can I, love. Neither can I," he whispered.

 


 

Enterprise-Main Engineering-Trip's Office
October 19th, 2155-0156 hours

Trip looked up when he heard a knock at the door. "Come in."

The door opened and T'Pol entered carrying a small stack of pads. "Are the modifications going well?"

He sighed, shaking his head. "I haven't made any more progress. These numbers just aren't balancing out.

Her brow furrowed slightly and she moved forward, taking a seat next to him as she, too, looked over the numbers on the pad. "Perhaps if you were to adjust this calculation by .25 mega joules-"

Trip paused before making the change to the number, the screen displaying a 'Loading. Please wait' message while the miniature computer reworked the equations.

A grin spread across his features as the equations reappeared on the screen, perfectly balanced. "Well, I'll be damned." He looked up at her, his eyebrows raised. "I could have used that an hour ago."

T'Pol raised an eyebrow in return. "The adjustment might not have solved the dilemma an hour ago."

He sighed. "Well, it doesn't really matter now. We've got it. Now we just need to make the modifications to the engines themselves."

T'Pol nodded. "I will report to the Captain and return in an hour to assist you with the modifications."

"With any luck, we'll be able to increase engine efficiency by 15%."

 



Enterprise-Reed's Quarters
October 24, 2155-1123 hours

 

Reed frowned slightly, his eyes narrowing at the screen as he tried to find a backdoor to the UESPA's database program. The tachyon signatures had been traced by a probe set on the outer edges of Earth's space, and he thought perhaps the satellite would have captured some photos of the craft that Starfleet, for some reason, didn't want to share with them.

"Passcode accepted," the screen read.

He then did a database search for stardate September 30th, time index 2201.43. When he didn't find any matches, he searched the following day, time index 0100. This time, he found several photos taken very close to that time. He opened them all one at a time, looking for any important details. The fourth picture made him pause. It was a photo of a Mars transport. Looking closely at the image, he saw some writing toward the port end. Upon magnifying the image and focusing in on the area, he saw the words 'Intelcraft, Inc.' written clearly on the metal of the hull.

He paused for a moment, and then did a search of Enterprise's database for the company. There was nothing but a short little blurb stating that the company manufactured crafts for mining operations on Mars.

"Time to call in some favors," he muttered, opening a blank communiqué.

 


 

Enterprise-Reed's Quarters
October 24, 2155-1623 hours

They've done a bit more than build mining transports, Gannett said wryly. According to the reports I've got here, they filed for bankruptcy a few years ago, but withdrew the claim a week later.

Reed frowned, looking up at the screen again. Any idea why?

She shook her head. None, but Section 31 suspects foul play. She paused. Come to think of it, the claim for bankruptcy was withdrawn just after Greene was promoted.

Leaning back in his chair, Reed stroked his chin and narrowed his eyes. So it's possible that this goes fairly high up?

Another wry grin crossed her lips as she looked through the pads on her desk to confirm her assumptions. Yes, it's very possible. Something definitely isn't right here. Starfleet is for sure hiding something-and I don't think it's just Greene trying to cover this up.

Have other officers been acting strangely?

She nodded. Now that you mention it Admiral Duke, Captain Jameson, and Lieutenant Washburn have been taking unexplained time off. No one has any idea where they've been going, not even their spouses and children.

Reed paused about to reply when the Captain's voice over the comm interrupted him.

All senior officers report to your posts.

I'll contact you again as soon as I can, Reed said.

She nodded. In the meantime, I'll see what else I can dig up for you.

He nodded, cutting the comm and straightening his uniform before exiting his quarters, headed toward the bridge.

 


 

Enterprise-Bridge
October 24, 2155-1632 hours

Archer frowned as he looked out on the massive shipyard. There were at least a hundred ships out there. Earth didn't stand a chance against a fleet of that size, especially considering Starfleet still hadn't figured out a way to get past the Romulans' seemingly impenetrable shields.

"Malcolm..." he began.

Reed looked up, confirming what Archer already knew. "Yes, sir. They're Romulan. The particle signatures match exactly."

"Are they aware of us yet?" Archer asked.

Reed shook his head. "No, sir."

Archer turned to Hoshi, whose brow was furrowed in concentration as she listened to the unencoded communications. "It's an invasion fleet." Her eyes widened. "They're planning to move against Tomed."

"Several light-years from Vulcan," T'Pol observed with a raised eyebrow.

Before Archer could reply, the ship shook violently and he gripped the chair to prevent himself from losing his balance. He tensed as he felt another violent shudder rip through the ship, nearly tossing him forward.

"Report!"

Reed frowned, his hands flying over the controls of his station as he interpreted the readings. "Romulan ship approaching off the port bow!"

"Polarize the hull plating and bring the phase cannons online! Travis, hard reverse! Initiate evasive maneuvers!"

"Aye, sir," Travis replied, his fingers gliding over the console.

Suddenly, an annoying beep sounded from Hoshi's station. Shudders racked the ship as it was tossed violently to one side. Grabbing the edge of her station, she steadied herself and frowned, entering a couple of commands. T'Pol dodged out of the way just in time as a console exploded into flames and smoke behind her. "Lieutenant!" Archer shouted.

"Hull breaches on decks C & E! That first shot just missed Engineering!" Reed reported.

"Aim for their main power conduits and fire!"

Reed frowned. "That last volley knocked out the targeting scanners. Switching to manual." He fired, holding his breath as the deck shook violently beneath him and his brow furrowed. "The ship has been disabled, sir!"

All was still and silent, an ominous air filtering through the bridge as the tension rose with each moment of silence.

Archer turned to Reed frowning, his brow furrowed. "Did you hit the main power conduit?"

Reed shook his head. "No, sir. I hit their weapons juncture."

Archer's frown deepened as he looked to T'Pol, who confirmed it. "How is that possible? The last time, we couldn't even get our weapons past their shields."

Hoshi shrugged. "Lucky shot?"

T'Pol's eyebrows shot up and she turned to Hoshi. "Highly unlikely."

 


 

Enterprise-Engineering
October 24th, 2155-1635 hours

"Anna!" Trip shouted, rushing toward her.

She lay on the deck, her leg trapped beneath a piece of bulkhead that had come loose during the last volley of fire. She gritted her teeth, trying to free herself.

"Don't worry. We'll have you out of there in a jiffy," he said.

He bent over and grasped the heavy piece of metal, grunting in effort as he tried to lift it.

"Rostov! Novakavitch!" he called in a strained voice. The two young men rushed over, both also grasping a side of the heavy metal. "On three. One...two...three!"

Straining, the three men at last managed to lift the bulkhead off of Hess's leg and dropped it as far away from her they could manage.

Ethan hurried back toward her, frowning as he saw her wince when he helped her to her feet.

"We'd better hurry up and get her to Sickbay," Trip said. "..before they start shootin' at us again." Trip turned to look over his shoulder and he felt torn. He hated leaving Engineering like this, but Anna needed immediate medical attention.

 


 

Enterprise-Sickbay
October 24th, 2155-1637 hours

Trip ducked, narrowly avoiding being clipped in the head by a flying bat as the ship rattled violently, which nearly caused the four to lose their balance.

"Oh dear," Phlox said as he watched the animal depart Sickbay via the open doors.

The doctor looked torn between chasing after his newly-liberated pet and caring for several people already housed in Sickbay, being treated for various burns. Phlox sighed, returning his attention to his newest patient.

"Have a seat, Lieutenant."

Trip and Ethan helped Hess toward the nearest biobed, Rostov behind them helping her up onto it.


 

Enterprise-Bridge
October 24th, 2155-1637 hours

Taking him by surprise, the next sharp lunge of the ship sent Archer toppling forward, causing him to bash his head into the hard deck plating. His ankle snapped sharply as he fell, twisting his leg into a painful and unnatural position. He could almost hear the violent rip as several ligaments tore.

Archer tried to get up, but was again knocked to the deck by another jerk beneath his feet. He gave a grunt at the pain in his leg and ankle. Deciding against any further attempts to stand, he just lay there indignantly sprawled on his stomach with the metal of the deck cold against his cheek.

"Forward phase cannons are offline and hull plating is down to ten percent. One more shot like that and we'll lose the warp drive!" Reed shouted.

Suddenly, the tremors ceased. He paused before pushing himself up into a seated position.

"Are you all right, Captain?" T'Pol asked, concerned.

Archer nodded, massaging a temple with one hand. He pulled it away shakily when he felt a wet substance. Looking down at his fingers, he saw his own blood.

He coughed harshly at the smoke now thickening the air from exploded consoles, trying to regain the breath that had been knocked out of him by the fall. "Report!" he called out hoarsely.

Reed studied the sensor readings, his fingers skimming over the controls. Frowning, he looked up. "Sir, the ships are retreating."

Archer sucked in a breath as T'Pol came to his side immediately, dropped to her knees and tenderly checked to see if his ankle was broken while Hoshi knelt in front of him and wrapped the material of her torn sleeve around the top of his head to stop the bleeding at his temple. "Don't question it, Lieutenant. Not just yet. Travis, get us out of here."

 


 

Romulan Homeworld-Senate Chambers
25th day of
T'lakht, Year of the Sark-8.37 hours

"You were ordered not to attack the Starfleet vessel!" the Minister shouted.

Radek frowned, bowing his head. "But Minister...we didn't have a choice. They had discovered our ships!"

The Minister sighed. "Since the removal of the nanoprobes from our systems, our ships are no match for Starfleet's."

Radek stiffened. "Then we must find a way to re-implement them!"

The Minister glared angrily at him. "You know the scientists are doing all that they can." He paused. "As for your punishment..."

The commander frowned, falling to one knee. "Yes, Minister?"

"You will be stripped of your rank and all of the assets that you have gained during your service."

Radek's jaw dropped, his face coloring in outrage. "Minister! You can't!"

The Minister narrowed his eyes at him. "I can do what I like, Commander."

All of the blood drained from the man's face. "Minister, please! My family...!"

"You and your family will be relocated to Cheron where you will assist in settling the colony."

The younger man was infuriated and looked ready to protest violently. Seeing this, the Minister cut him off. "Stand, you pathetic, quivering sack of bile." The man paused, his eyes boring into the other man's. "I would advise you not to aggravate your situation any further."

Getting stiff control of his temper, Radek nodded sharply. "Yes, sir."

As he exited the chambers, the anger welled up inside him stronger than before. Archer would pay, as would all that had dared vote to exile him. On Kesika's life, they would pay.

TBC...

 


Comments:

Asso

A word, one sole word.

AHHHHHHHH.....

jellyfish
Damn that was hot! I guess this is what we were all missing from the Harbinger episode ;)

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