Hostage

By Bluetiger

Rating: R

Genres: adventure drama family

Keywords:

This story has been read by 829 people.
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Summary: A family member in danger leads Trip on a quest.

 

Author's Note: This is set in the Love Languages universe. However it contains a considerable amount of violence. 

 

________________________________________

Michelle Sullivan sat in the taxi wringing her hands. Her husband, Sean, had an arm around her shoulder in an effort to comfort his distraught wife. They were ten minutes from their destination when the evening storm let loose its fury. It was nearly nine o'clock; the dark and chilling rain was a depressing back-drop that matched the Sullivan's mood.

 

It had been an uneventful evening at the Tucker home. Their son Morgan was upstairs doing homework while Trip and T'Pol watched an old movie and shared a bowl of popcorn. It had taken Trip a while on Enterprise to get T'Pol to eat popcorn because, try as you might, the only way to eat it is with your fingers. After much cajoling, she finally broke down but would only share with him. The beautiful Vulcan woman was about two months away from delivering the couple's third child and Trip was trying to take good care of his wife to the point of hovering in excess some times. The couple had lost a son seven years ago and Trip was determined to make sure his new daughter arrived safely. After the movie, he drew his pregnant wife a warm bath. After T'Pol had been soaking in the tub for about fifteen minutes, Trip came back into the bathroom. He had been in their bedroom gathering T'Pol's pajamas and robe when suddenly they heard the doorbell. Trip gave his wife a puzzled look.

 

"Wonder who on earth would be at our door this late? You stay put Darlin', I'll go see who it is." Trip headed to the door and was shocked to see his sister and her husband.

 

Michelle threw herself into her brother's arms. Trip held his shaking sister tightly as he looked into the sad eyes of his brother-in-law.

 

"Chelle what is it, what's happened?"

 

"Oh Trip, Thomas has been reported missing in action and Starfleet won't tell us anything, they said it's classified."

__________________________________________

 

Michelle Tucker had met Sean Sullivan at a party being held at the art gallery where she worked. Although she was thirty-years-old, Michelle had not dated a great deal. She was centered on her studies of art history and never met anyone she was that interested in, until the night she saw Sean Sullivan across the room and fell instantly in love. Sean had come to town to purchase art for his office buildings and, fortunately, he was equally smitten. Trip liked Sean from the beginning although he did have to do the 'if you hurt my sister, I'll hurt you' speech, it's part of the brother code after all. Within six months Sean and Michelle were married.

 

The newlyweds moved to Ireland to live on the land that had been in Sean's family for many years. Within the next ten years, the couple had four sons. The oldest, Jamie, had gone into medicine while his next brother, Thomas, wanted nothing more than to join Starfleet like his Uncle Trip. Both of the other boys, Mark and Brian, were still in college. Three of Michelle's sons looked just like their father: dark hair and straight noses. Thomas however was her little Tucker baby. He had blonde hair and an upturned nose. There had been times during his youth that Michelle could swear she was looking at Trip when he was young.

 

Thomas had made it through Starfleet training with flying colors and now at twenty-four was Ensign Thomas Sullivan. Thomas kept his relationship to Captain Charles 'Trip' Tucker low key. As with most young men, he wanted to make it on his own merit, not by association to his legendary uncle. Ensign Sullivan had shipped out on the Saratoga as a security officer.

__________________________________________

 

Trip walked his sister to the couch and sat her down. Sean took a seat beside his wife. Sitting on the coffee table, Trip still grasped Michelle's hands.

 

"Sis, tell me what you know."

 

"Well, Thomas has been on the Saratoga for about eight months now. He sends me a letter, regular as clockwork every week." Michelle bit her bottom lip in an effort to control her tears.

 

Sean continued the story, "We hadn't heard from him in over a week, so we contacted Starfleet. We were getting the run-around from some lieutenant but we wouldn't give up, so we came directly to Starfleet headquarters determined to camp out until they told us something. Finally, a Captain Hargrove told us that there had been a classified incident and Thomas along with five others have been declared missing in action."

 

Trip sat for a bit thinking about his options. "Let me make some calls."

 

As Trip rose, T'Pol entered the room wearing her pajamas and robe.

 

Michelle looked up, "T'Pol I'm sorry we barged in like this..."

 

"It is no bother; after all you are our family. I heard the situation as I entered the room and we will do all we can to help. You two look chilled; I will make some tea while Trip tries to gather information."

 

"May I help? I need something to do with my hands right now."

 

"Of course."

 

Sean trailed along with the women to the kitchen. Trip had gone to his office to place his calls and Sean wasn't in the mood to be alone.

__________________________________________

 

Ambassador Jonathan Archer was at Starfleet headquarters. The federation president wanted a face to face meeting with Archer and the ranking admirals about the current crisis. What had begun as a goodwill mission had quickly deteriorated into a deadly situation.

 

When Enterprise's ten-year mission was completed, Archer had assumed that he would take command of another ship. The fledgling Coalition of Planets had needed to be nursed along and its continued existence seemed to forever hinge on Archer's participation. Now that it had become The United Federation of Planets, Archer was so entangled that his fate appeared to be out of his hands. Starfleet Command had pressured him to resign his commission and become Earth's premier ambassador.

 

As Archer prowled the halls tonight, trying to find a decent cup of coffee this late, a young ensign scurried to catch up to him. The pretty little ensign was huffing for breath; she had to run to catch up to Archer's long strides.

 

"Ambassador, I've been looking all over for you sir."

 

"Ensign Hines, do you have any idea where we can get a couple of pots of coffee and some sandwiches this late at night?"

 

Sharon Hines was in awe of Ambassador Archer, as were most of the young officers stationed at Starfleet. The young woman smiled at the ambassador.

 

"I'll personally see to it sir; however before the briefing resumes I have an important call on hold for you."

 

Archer sighed, the current situation had already given him a severe headache, "Can you take a message for me? We will be resuming in just a few minutes."

 

Ensign Hines fidgeted a little nervously, "I tried that sir but the caller would not take no for an answer. Captain Tucker can be very intimidating, even on the comm."

 

"Trip Tucker?" Archer scowled. What in the world could Trip need from him at this time of night? "Where is the nearest comm station that I can have some privacy?"

 

"My office, end of this hall sir. The operator will put it through for you. I'll go see about your sandwiches and coffee, Ambassador."

 

The ensign headed off in search of food while Archer entered her office and sat down at the desk. When the connection was made Archer saw the worried face of his old friend. His heart sank; please don't let it be the new baby he thought, not again.

 

"Trip, what's wrong?"

 

Not one to beat around the bush, Trip jumped in with both feet.

 

"I want to know what you can tell me about the six crewmen that have gone missing from the Saratoga."

 

The Ambassador was stunned, "How could you possibly know about that, it just happened and it's classified?"

 

"One of the missing officers, Ensign Thomas Sullivan, is my nephew. My sister Michelle's second boy. He missed his regular letter last week, so Michelle and Sean kicked up a fuss until Hargrove told them he was MIA."

__________________________________________

 

When Trip entered the kitchen three heads snapped in his direction. He really didn't want to have to tell his sister and brother-in-law this news. However he knew it was inevitable, so he began.

 

"The Saratoga was delivering supplies to a planet whose government had asked for help after a natural disaster. The Arkonian people are fairly isolationist, and it seems that a rebel faction didn't approve of off-worlders getting involved. The rebels infiltrated the relief camp and took six of our people. Three nurses, a doctor, and two security officers. Thomas was one of the security men."

 

T'Pol was surprised by this revelation, "I find it hard to believe that the Arkonians even asked for outside help. Vulcans have always found them to be suspicious of other species. They tend to be deceitful and prone to hostility."

 

Trip continued, "It seems that after Enterprise's dealings with them, they mellowed a bit, at least toward humans. Ambassador Archer was on planet at the time of the incident. After our people were taken, Archer and all Starfleet personnel were ordered off the planet or they would start killing hostages. The Saratoga pulled back out of sensor range and is holding position. Jon hopped a small cruiser back to Earth to meet with the Federation leadership personally."

 

Sean looked at Trip and frowned. "I've never heard of Arkonians."

 

"They look for all the world like giant lizards. Years ago I was stranded on a moon with one of their soldiers, Zho'Kaan. He and I beat the crap out of each other before we came to an understanding and finally worked together to contact Enterprise. It was incredibly hot on that moon and the Arkonian pilot was near death. Two things really impressed the Arkonians: the fact that I wouldn't leave Zho'Kaan until help came and Archer keeping his word to them about leaving their space after the rescue. After Jonathan became Earth's representative, he made a few overtures that were well received. That's why the new government asked for assistance."

 

"What are they doing to get my baby back?" Michelle asked with tears in her eyes.

 

"As I said, Archer is in a meeting right now with the Federation President and the Admirals. An insertion force is being gathered, and plans made."

 

Trip and T'Pol were finally able to get Sean and Michelle settled in T'Resa's old room. Trip had explained briefly to Morgan why his aunt and uncle were staying the night. When the Tuckers were together in the solitude of their room, T'Pol spoke first.

 

"I understand why you must go on this mission. She is your sister and her child is in danger."

 

"T'Pol, how can I leave with you pregnant? I need to be here for you these last few weeks before our baby girl is born."

 

"I will be fine.  Morgan and T'Resa will be with me and, if I am not mistaken, you will ask Alan and Julia to keep an eye on us as well."

 

Trip chuckled, "You know me too well after all these years." Then he sobered. "There's something I didn't tell you. The Arkonian rebels didn't think the Starfleet personnel were leaving in a timely manner. They killed one of the hostages. A young nurse named Samantha Reese. I just couldn't bring myself to tell Chelle."

 

"Trip your nephew is in great danger, does Jonathan wish you to go?"

 

"Yes, Jon wants me there but was afraid to ask me. He knows how protective I am of you right now. None of the Starfleet Admirals connected Thomas' name to me, but because of my friendship with Zho'Kaan, they feel that I could be of help. Zho'Kaan is something' akin to an Admiral now."

 

"When will you need to leave, my husband?"

 

"The Challenger leaves tomorrow afternoon at 1800 hours. I'm still not sure about this T'Pol; I've never been so torn about a decision before. Nothing is more important to me than you and the kids, but how can I live with myself if I didn't do all I can to help Thomas?"

 

"Husband, we are in no danger, this child will be born healthy and on schedule. You must go and help your family."

 

Trip smiled, "I have your word then, healthy and on schedule?"

 

"Indeed, you do."

__________________________________________

 

Trip woke up spooned behind his wife. Both were nude and her skin felt marvelously warm to him. T'Pol began to wiggle and press her body back against her husband.

 

Trip asked quietly and with a smile on his face, "T'Pol, what are you doing?"

 

"I thought it would be fairly obvious to you that I wish to have sexual relations."

 

"I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I got that. I'm just not sure if we should, are you sure you're feeling up to it?"

 

Trip felt an overwhelming burst of desire mixed with frustration come from his wife, "Trip, do you remember the phase pistol that Malcolm gave us for protection?"

 

"Yeah, it's in the safe in our closet."

 

"Do not make me have to go get it."

 

Trip chuckled, "That won't be necessary darlin', I actually can't think of anything I'd rather do than make love to you."

 

The Tucker's proceeded to make slow luxurious love, each trying to memorize every square inch of the other. Neither knew how long it would be before they would be together again.

__________________________________________

 

By the time Trip was packed and ready to leave it was practically a family reunion. Sean and Michelle were going back home in the morning to await word on their son. Trip's brother Alan and his wife Julia were at the house reassuring Trip they would look in on T'Pol.

 

"I promise we'll be here for T'Pol and the kids. Don't worry about that, just go get Thomas." Alan hugged his older brother. "Mom and Dad called, they'll be here in a heartbeat if needed."

 

Trip smiled at his brother. It was a great relief to know that he had so much backup looking after his wife and children.

 

T'Resa and Morgan hugged their father and urged him to be careful.

 

"I will, but I want you guys to look after your mom for me."

 

Fourteen-year-old Morgan drew himself up, "You can count on me to be the man of the house, Dad."

 

Trip was so proud of his son that he could have burst, "I know you will, Son."

 

T'Resa locked eyes with the man that she would always, to the end of her days, call Daddy. Unspoken volumes passed between father and daughter.

 

"I'll move back in until you come home. Do what you have to do as quickly as you can, Daddy."

 

Trip picked up his duffle bag and turned toward the door. Michelle had been unusually quiet all day. She reached for her brother's hand.

 

"Trip, bring my baby home... no matter what happens, bring him back." Michelle broke down and collapsed into her husband's arms.

 

Trip understood the implication.

 

Sean held his wife with one arm and reached out a hand to his brother-in-law. "Thank you for doing this Trip; I realize what we're asking..."

 

Trip shook the extended hand. "Our Grandmother used to say 'nothing is more important than family', that was a lady I would never argue with."

 

At the door, Trip simply reached toward his wife with two extended fingers. He would never embarrass T'Pol with a public display. She extended her fingers to him. No one would ever know the depth of what passed between them through that simple contact.

 

"Remember what you promised, 'healthy and on schedule'."

__________________________________________

 

The shuttle to Challenger left on time. Trip was pleased to see a familiar face among the commandos.

 

"Commander Malcolm Reed, long time no see. How the hell are you?"

 

The old friends smiled and shook hands. As they released their grip the smiles faded away.

 

"I'm glad they called up your team, Malcolm, we sure can use the best."

 

"Actually, we volunteered Trip. I heard that your nephew was one of the hostages and I knew that my men would be your best option."

 

Malcolm Reed had realized a need at the end of The Enterprise ten-year mission. The Commander decided that an upgrade was in order. From his years of experience in space, Malcolm envisioned a commando, skilled in all forms of combat, weaponry, and stealth.

 

Commander Reed had the greatest respect for the MACO's, many had been his friend and many had died. Malcolm remembered Corporal Hawkins and Major Hayes as two fallen friends. Although with Hayes it had been a begrudging friendship that was a long time in the making. Reed was glad they made their peace before Hayes was killed on the mission to rescue Hoshi from the Xindi. So many years of watching young men die had a profound effect.

 

Malcolm wanted to create an elite force, so skilled that he would never lose another team member. Over the years, Reed's teams developed a reputation for being the very best at insertion and recovery.

 

Ambassador Archer was waiting as the shuttle docked with Challenger and the bay pressurized. As grave as the situation was, it raised Archer's spirits to see his former officers together again.

__________________________________________

 

Thomas sat on the floor of the cell. Carved from rock, the space was quite cold and damp.  Their captors had thrown them in here three days ago.

 

Soon after they arrived, the Arkonian rebels had come in, picked Samantha Reese at random, and run her through with a sword before the security officers could do anything to stop it. Each of the Arkonians had a ceremonial sword slung over their back and a pistol on their hip. Thomas and Rita tried to stop them but it all happened so fast. Samantha didn't even scream; she just had a shocked look on her face as she quickly died. They took her body with them and had ignored the prisoners since then.

 

They had not provided any water to the hostages and Thomas could never remember ever being this thirsty. The Arkonians had put a jug of that brown liquid that they drank in the cell. Finally, out of desperation Stanley Breck, one of the nurses had tried to drink it. He ended up gagging and spitting the stuff all over the floor. Thomas glanced at the other hostages, Rita Davenport from security and Dr. Sanjee Pandit appeared to be asleep. Stanley had received a minor knife wound when they were captured but it had become infected.  He developed a fever and was in and out. Thomas figured that the dehydration wasn't helping. The other nurse, T'Ana, was monitoring his condition while the doctor slept. Thomas eased over to the young Vulcan woman.

 

"T'Ana, I can keep an eye on Stanley if you need to meditate while it's quiet. I noticed that you haven't had a chance in the last two days."

 

T'Ana raised an eyebrow at the young security officer, "You are versed in Vulcan customs Ensign Sullivan?"

 

"You might say that." Thomas smiled shyly, "My aunt is Vulcan. She is a wealth of information on your people, plus my cousins are half Vulcan and meditation is a big part of their lives."

 

For the first time since they had met, Thomas saw a brief flash of surprise cross T'Ana's features. So far her control had been impeccable despite their situation, but the mention of his aunt caused a slight break in that iron control.

 

"Would it be permissible to tell me your aunt's name?"

 

"Sure, it's T'Pol Tucker."

 

Thomas could definitely see a bit of shock swiftly cross her features, although it was hardly more than a widening of her eyes.

 

"I take it that you've heard of Aunt T'Pol?"

 

"Indeed, I hold Captain T'Pol in great esteem. My parents did not wish me to become a doctor in Starfleet. I have read extensively of your aunt's adventures on Enterprise. I decided to follow her example and choose my own path in life."

 

"I can see where T'Pol would be a role model. She is a wonderful woman and a perfect mate for my uncle."

 

"Your uncle would be Captain Charles Tucker, from what I have read he is also an admirable individual."

 

"Yes he is. Uncle Trip is the reason that I grew up wanting to join Starfleet."

 

The two leaned back against the wall to continue their talk.

 

Thomas talked about his family, the parents he loved and his crazy brothers. He also told her about the Tuckers and the mischief he got up to with his brothers and Cousin T'Resa.  T'Ana spoke of growing up on Vulcan, joining Starfleet and how she came to be on Saratoga.

 

"You seem to have a very...colorful clan, Ensign."

 

"Please, call me Thomas. In my family nicknames abound, but for some reason my name was never shortened. Only the odd classmate or professor ever called me Tom."

 

"Vulcans do not use nicknames; it is illogical to call someone something other than their name or rank."

 

Thomas laughed, "I've got you on that one. My Aunt T'Pol calls her husband by his nickname. I've only ever heard her call him Trip, well unless he's in trouble. Then he's Charles Morgan Tucker the Third."

 

"That is highly illogical; I can not understand why she would do that?"

 

Thomas looked down into the delicate face of the shorter woman and earnestly replied, "Because it pleases him, and she very much desires to please him. They have a very deep affection."

 

T'Ana seemed to ponder this information, "It would appear, Thomas, that I have much to learn even about my own people."

 

They sat in comfortable silence for a while, and then Thomas became curious.

 

"T'Ana, you said you were going to be a doctor, why are you on Saratoga as a nurse instead of in medical school?"

 

"It is the practice on Vulcan to spend your first ten years as a nurse before you begin training as a healer. It is thought that this developes humility and a greater appreciation of that skill set."

 

Thomas smiled, "I know a few doctors that could benefit from that philosophy."

 

The two quickly sat upright when the Arkonian guards approached. They placed a box inside the cell. After their captors departed, Thomas eased over to see what they left. The box was a cargo container like Starfleet used to transport supplies down to the planet. Inside the box were ration packs and water pouches. The young man almost cried for joy. He brought a water pouch over to T'Ana.

 

"Have a drink, I'll wake the others, at least it doesn't look like they mean for us to die right away."

__________________________________________

 

The conference room on Challenger was filled with various officers and tactical specialists, among them Ambassador Archer, Captain Tucker, and Commander Reed. The call came in and the face of an Arkonian dignitary appeared on screen. They all listened intently to the voice of Rhath'Mar, president of the current government of Arkon. All were concentrating on the information being imparted to them.

 

"The Arkonian government feels that by the time Challenger arrives we will have the location of the rebel stronghold." Rhath'Mar exuded a confidence that several listeners wondered if he truly felt.

 

"The rebels state that they will kill the hostages if Starfleet returns. You must remain out of sensor range along with Saratoga."

 

Archer spoke, "What do they want for the return of our people, assuming they believe we have not reentered your space?"

 

"So far they are not willing to discuss the release of the hostages. The only demand they have made is a seat on the ruling council, which we are not willing to give."

 

"Mr. President, I understand your unwillingness to deal with terrorists, but please don't antagonize them until we arrive."

 

"Ambassador Archer, you need to understand that these rebels have taken prisoners many times in the past for one cause or another. They have been known to keep them for many months and then just kill them without provocation. They are extremely dangerous and unpredictable."

 

"Mr. President, we will arrive in two days. By then a plan will be in place to rescue our people. Just stall the talks until then. When we go in, our men will get our people out. If it becomes necessary, we may have to use deadly force with the rebels."

 

"Ambassador, no one on Arkon will mourn the loss of these particular men, Rhath'Mar out."

 

After the transmission ended, Archer turned to Malcolm.

 

"Will your team be able to handle this assignment?"

 

"My team are the best trained soldiers in existence sir, we'll bring everyone home and everyone who is alive when we land will be alive when we get back. What makes my team so good is the ability to think on the move and alter plans as situations occur. If Saratoga can get close enough without being detected to use her sensors and can get us a location, we'll get the job done."  

__________________________________________

 

The hostages had settled into a pattern. Rita and Thomas alternated sleep schedules so that one security officer was awake at all times. While this was hardly necessary since the rebels had ignored them for days, it was an ingrained security protocol. Doctor Pandit and T'Ana had likewise set an alternating schedule so someone could monitor Stanley. His fever had grown worse in the last day; however the remaining hostages were in much better shape.

 

For some reason everyone looked to Thomas for leadership. He found this slightly ironic as he was the youngest of the hostages. As defacto leader, Thomas had set up the water rationing and, in deference to T'Ana, separated the ration packs. The food was also being rationed, but Thomas wanted to make sure the vegetarian meals lasted T'Ana as long as possible. Ensign Sullivan's intimate knowledge of Vulcans and their habits had come in handy on more than one occasion. When it was time for the Vulcan woman and the ensign to sleep, Thomas approached her.

 

"T'Ana do you subscribe to the logic of doing what is necessary to survive in a critical situation?"

 

The Vulcan nurse thought for a moment before answering, "There are times during crisis when one might act in a manner not common to their character."

 

"Is it not then logical to ignore a normal social taboo if it might sustain health long enough for rescue to arrive?"

 

"If there is sufficient cause to believe rescue is imminent, it would indeed be logical to do all in one's power to stay alive for said rescue."

 

"Good, I noticed that you spent your last sleep cycle shivering under your thin blanket. Since you admit to the logic of preserving your health, we are going to sleep together under your blanket with my arms around you. It is after all, only logical."

 

Thomas wondered if he was going to be able to pull this off. He realized that the small woman nearly froze every time she tried to sleep.

 

T'Ana stood still, staring at the security officer. Finally she spoke, "Agreed."

 

Thomas smiled as they settled on the floor, arms around each other, covered by the thin blanket. As T'Ana grew warm from the shared body heat, she muttered.

 

"You spend too much time with your aunt."

__________________________________________

 

Trip and Malcolm sat in the lounge, each with a cup of coffee in their hands. They would soon rendezvous with Saratoga. Both men sought a moment of quiet before the coming mission.

 

"So, how is T'Pol? Does she get cranky in the late stages of her pregnancies?"

 

"Nah, but she did threaten to stun me with the phase pistol you gave us."

 

"Might I ask what you did to piss off the lovely lady?"

 

"That's the thing, I thought I was being a good supportive husband but she seems to think I hover too much. According to T'Pol, I treat her like an invalid and ask how she's feeling way too often."

 

"Well you can be irritating. I must admit, I've thought about stunning you a time or two myself over the years."

 

Trip scowled at his friend, "Ha Ha, maybe we should ask your wife how easy you are to live with. Are Helen and the kids well?"

 

Malcolm smiled, "Helen is wonderful, I can't believe I found a woman that could put up with me, much less give me two great sons. I spent so many years on Enterprise, and then setting up my academy, I feared it was too late for a family. When I met Helen I thought she was too young for me, but she is a force of nature when she wants something. For some odd reason, she wanted me. Once I agreed to step back from field work, Helen was ready to get married and start our family. The twins are the light of my life."

 

"How old are David and Stuart now?" Trip wrinkled his brow, "Four? Five?"

 

"They're just turned five and into everything, we never know what will happen next."

 

"Tell me about it. When Morgan was six, he accidentally set the garage on fire and I don't even want to think about the time the police brought T'Resa home at two o'clock in the morning."

 

"The Police? How old was she?"

 

"Just had her thirteenth birthday and thought she was all grown up. It all started when she snuck out of the house..."

__________________________________________

 

Rita Davenport was on guard duty when she heard someone coming. Quickly she woke up Thomas and T'Ana.

 

"Sullivan, the guards are coming," Rita whispered.

 

T'Ana moved over beside Dr. Pandit. The security officers subtly placed themselves in front of the other three prisoners. One Arkonian guard stayed outside with a pistol trained on the hostages while two more guards entered the cell.

 

"Which one?" Asked the first guard.

 

The second guard appeared to think for a minute. "Take the sick one, he'll probably die anyway."

 

As they reached for Stanley Breck, unconscious from his fever, to drag him from the cell, Rita and Thomas tried to stop them.

 

"Leave him alone!" Rita yelled at the Arkonian. She threw a few serious punches, taking some of the wind out of her opponent. The guard grabbed her arm and twisted it to an unnatural position. He then, with obvious glee, began pounding on the face of the security officer until she fell to the ground dazed.

 

Thomas was also scuffling with his guard; however he seemed more intent on removing the prisoner. He simply pulled his gun and shot Thomas. The young ensign hit the floor with a thud as the guards hauled Stanley away. T'Ana was the first to reach Thomas, her fingers quickly searched for a pulse. She was gratified to realize that he had simply been stunned.

__________________________________________

 

The shuttle from the surface docked with Saratoga. President Rhath'Mar emerged followed by a military contingent. They approached Archer and the Starfleet officers.

 

"Ambassador, it is with deep regret that I have to inform you that another hostage has been killed. We have brought you the remains for identification."

 

Trip felt his heart squeeze as if it were in a vice. They had read all the files and knew each prisoner's face by sight. Two Arkonian soldiers brought a container forward. Trip didn't want to look, but knew he had no choice. Inside the box was the decapitated head of Stanley Breck. Trip turned away, ashamed that he was relieved it was not Thomas. Archer and Reed moved away to question the president when Trip heard his name softly called.

 

"Trip, it is good to see you again. I only wish the circumstances were different."

 

"Zho'Kaan!" Trip reached out his hand. "You look well old friend. I see that you've risen in the ranks since last we met."

 

"That is why I am ashamed Trip. I was in charge of the troops in the sector of the relief camps. Your people were abducted on my watch."

 

Trip waved off the apology, "Zho'Kaan, your soldiers were hip deep in trying to rescue people trapped in the debris. You were spread thin and cannot be held responsible for what the rebels did."

 

"You are very understanding Trip; I have been told that you have kin among the prisoners."

 

"My sister's son; he's a good man. I pray we'll get to them in time. Do you have any idea why they killed a second hostage?"

 

Zho'Kaan looked to see if anyone was close enough to hear their conversation. He was satisfied that they wouldn't be overheard.

 

"Our new President is not as diplomatic as a man in his position should be. He had words with the rebel leader, refusing to discuss a seat on the council."

 

Trip balled both hands into fists and growled, "Dammit, Archer told him to just stall until we got here. All he had to do was hedge a little for a few days." The engineer took a deep breath and uncurled his fingers. "Zho'Kaan can you remain here on Saratoga with us as we scan for the terrorist camp? Your knowledge of the area could be vital."

 

"Considering the debt I owe to you, Trip, I'm willing to help in any way possible."

__________________________________________

 

Dr. Sanjee Pandit was speaking to Thomas, but he was having trouble understanding. When the world came into focus, Thomas jumped, the Indian doctor was right in his face.

 

"Ensign Sullivan can you understand me?"

 

"Yeah, Doc I hear you. What's happening?"

 

The doctor helped the woozy ensign to sit up. He noticed that T'Ana was bent over Rita Davenport.

 

"You were merely stunned, however crewman Davenport has a broken nose, facial lacerations, and her right arm was broken when the guard twisted it. As you know, we have nothing to treat her with, but I would like to use some of the water to clean her face."

 

"Go ahead Doc, use what you need. We don't need Rita getting an infection."

 

Dr. Pandit set about cleaning Rita's face as best he could, while T'Ana approached Thomas.

 

"Would it be agreeable for you to donate your uniform shirt? We need to tear it in strips to bind crewman Davenport's arm to her chest."

 

"Sure, no problem." The young man had to struggle a bit to get his uniform off his shoulders. The room still seemed to want to spin periodicly. He finally managed, handing his black undershirt to the nurse. She took the shirt and turned toward the doctor, then suddenly turned back.

 

"Thomas, when you were shot, I thought the gun might be set to kill. The thought was very disagreeable." She quickly turned back to the patient.

 

"Well I'll be damned, that's the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me," Thomas chuckled.

__________________________________________

 

Trip saw the face of his lovely wife flash onto the comm screen. He tried to call her as often as possible to keep her up to date and make sure all was well at home.

 

"Hey sweetheart, how are you and the kids?"

 

"We are well husband. I have just come from seeing Phlox and he assures me that our daughter is extremely healthy."

 

Trip gave his wife a big smile, "That's good to hear, Darlin'. Are the kids taking good care of you?"

 

T'Pol gave a slight sigh, "They are truly your offspring, Trip. Every time I turn around, one of them is trying to force feed me what you call 'comfort food'. I informed T'Resa that if she brought me one more bowl of soup, I would not need to give birth, I would simply explode."

 

Trip's laughter rang out over the comm. T'Pol decided that was the most agreeable sound she had recently heard. She would never admit it, but T'Pol honed her comedy timing just to produce that wonderful sound.

 

"How is the mission progressing?"

 

"Another of the hostages has been killed, Stanely Breck. That leaves Thomas, Davenport, T'Ana, and Dr. Pandit. It really scares me, Honey, how little hesitation these people have about killing. We need to get our people quickly."

 

"Have they been located yet?"

 

"I'm meeting Malcolm and Jon in a few minutes. The debris field should be in range very soon."

 

"Be well husband. Come home to me soon."

__________________________________________

 

Arkon had several small moons. One of these had been struck by an asteroid and obliterated. The resulting tidal waves and seismic activity devastated Arkon's surface. Hundreds of thousands had died or been severely injured. It was such an overwhelming situation that the Arkonian government had requested help from Starfleet. No one dreamed that the help would be rebuffed by an isolationist faction. As a result of the cataclysm, there was a cloud of debris and gases orbiting the planet. The plan was for Saratoga to slip in behind this debris field when it passed the suspected location of the rebel stronghold. It was a huge area but Saratoga had the most advanced sensors, so all fingers were crossed that the human and Vulcan bio-signs would be located.

 

It turned out that President Rhath'Mar was overly optimistic about finding the base's location by the time they arrived. In an effort to impress the Ambassador, he gave a long-winded explanation of how the rebels had to be on the southern continent. However, Zho'Kaan had done some recon on his own and felt that he had narrowed down the location.

 

Taking Trip aside, Zho'Kaan explained, "I realize you have nothing to go on but my hunch. However my people have been tracking rebel activity and I believe they are based in a mountain range to the north. I fear you will waste many days of valuable effort if the search begins in the southern region. From the intelligence we have gathered, our best estimate of the location is somewhere in this mountain range." Zho'Kaan pointed to the screen.

 

Trip called to Archer and Malcolm.

 

"Zho'Kaan thinks Rhath'Mar is full of shit. His intel puts the rebels here." Trip pointed to the area.

 

Archer, Trip, Malcolm, and Zho'Kaan were all gathered around the sensor display table. It reminded Trip of all the times they had gathered in the situation room at the back of Enterprise's bridge.

 

Malcolm asked, "Is there any particular type of interference that emanates from this location?"

 

"Our transporter technology is not as sophisticated as yours, we don't use it on people. However we often get false sensor readings in this area because of the mountains, which may be why they selected it."

 

"That among other factors makes this a much more likely location. My team will have transporter tags with them, if we find our people I guarantee we will get a lock on them."

 

Trip looked at the men around the table, "I say we go with Zho'Kaan's intel. The president hasn't said anything yet that inspires my confidence."

 

"I agree with that," replied Archer, "I'll inform Captain Hodge where to begin the scans."

 

A little later Captain Hodge stepped up to the table. Although he considered himself a success and had been captain of the Saratoga for years, he would have been a fool not to realize that he was in the presence of three living legends. He had the deepest respect for these men and what they accomplished in The Expanse. He chuckled to himself, 'If Captain Tucker's wife was here I would be totally overwhelmed'.

 

Captain Hodge caught their attention, "Gentlemen, we have successfully slipped in behind the debris and are commencing our scans."

 

Archer nodded, "Thank you Captain, let us know when you find anything."

 

Orbiting with the debris cloud, it eventually took two days of sensor sweeps to get a hit. Malcolm had insisted on the most up to the minute surveillance equipment being provided for this mission. They had identified two large camps deep in the mountain range with about seventy-five Arkonian life signs. However, what held their interest now was a smaller camp with a little over twenty life signs. The men now gathered around a screen showing about twenty red dots and four green ones.

 

"We have confirmation; these green dots are indeed one Vulcan and three human bio-signs." Malcolm stated this with assurance. "The hostages are on the floor below the main base. The rebels seem to avoid the prisoner area from what we can tell. Hopefully this will give us time to reach the hostages before the rebels become aware and try to kill them. Four of my men will transport in at this location." Malcolm indicated an area just outside of the camp. "Zho'Kaan was correct about the interference, while we can scan the area, we keep getting sensor ghosts. We cannot transport in with any accuracy. However, with powerful transporter tags, getting out won't be a problem. I will transport down with them and set up a command post. The men will be outfitted with cameras and comms. I'll be in constant touch with them."

 

Trip scowled, "Malcolm, you brought twelve men, why are you only sending four in?"

 

"Trip, four to twenty is a perfect ratio. Too many and you lose stealth. My men will be practically invisible while in that camp, trust me. This is not a situation where you need to rush them with superior forces. The object is to get as close to our people as possible before the rebels know we are there. My men will slap a transporter tag on each hostage and they will immediately transport here. Once all our people are out, Zho'Kaan can bring in his soldiers in troop transports and take out all three rebel camps for good."

 

Archer spoke up, "When to you intend to begin the operation, Malcolm?"

 

"I'll need thirty minutes to brief the men and double-check the equipment."

 

Trip touched Malcolm's shoulder, "I want to be at the base camp with you."

 

"Trip, there is no need for that. As soon as we get to them, they'll be transported to Saratoga."

 

Trip sighed, "I know that, but just on the off chance I can help, please Malcolm."

 

"Alright Trip."

__________________________________________

 

Dr. Pandit was around the corner in what passed for a toilet in their cell. It was little better than a hole in the ground, but it better than nothing, and afforded a little privacy. Thomas bent down to look at Rita. He could tell she was in pain. Her right arm was tightly bound to her chest, and her eyes were black, but much of the swelling on her face had gone down.

 

Thomas smiled, "How you doin', Davenport?"

 

"Never better Boss. It'll take more than these scaly bastards to get me down."

 

Thomas patted her good shoulder and stood up. Rita was tough as nails and a damn good security officer. He still couldn't get over how everyone referred to him as the team leader. Maybe they just needed someone, anyone to look to. T'Ana was sitting with her eyes closed. He figured she was trying to meditate, so he sat down quietly. Her posture was not as ridged as it had been in weeks past. He could tell she was exhausted.

 

T'Ana opened her eyes, "Thomas, do you still feel that we will leave this place alive?"

 

"Are you kidding me? My Aunt T'Pol is suppose to have her new baby soon. I intend to sit on their porch swing and rock that baby in my arms."

 

T'Ana's shoulders slumped just slightly, "May I accompany you on this visit? I think it would be most agreeable to hold a child in my arms."

 

"Sure you can. We'll have a party and I'll introduce you to all the Sullivans and Tuckers."

 

T'Ana did not reply for a second, then, "If I can live through this, surely I can survive that."

 

Thomas was chuckling when the guard approached the cell. 

 

"You," the Arkonian said as he threw a satchel down in front of Thomas, "pack the food and drink in this bag, we're moving."

 

Thomas looked at T'Ana and began to stuff the remaining rations and water into the sack.

__________________________________________

 

As soon as the six men coalesced, Malcolm and Trip opened their cases, and attached their ear pieces, making sure they were getting telemetry from each commando. The four men were code named North, South, East, and West. With a quick hand signal from Reed, the soldiers moved out with masked faces and wearing dark camouflage instantly disappearing into the night. The anxious men watched in silence as the invasion of the rebel camp unfolded in front of them. Trip had to admit the stealth of these men was amazing. Thanks to the video pick-ups Trip could see the interior of the camp perfectly. So far no one was paying any heed to the commandos.

 

"Trip, does there seem to be an unusal amount of activity to you?"

 

"Yeah, I was noticing that. The Arkonians that come into view all seem to be carrying equipment and boxes."

 

"They're leaving Trip; they must have gotten wind of something."

 

"Malcolm, will this help us or hurt us?"

 

"It's too soon to tell."

 

The team continued to work their way deeper into the facility, so far the disassembling of the camp seemed to be working in their favor. South and East had each taken out a rebel. South with a quick neck snap and East with a knife across the throat. Both bodies were out of sight in seconds. The soldiers were constantly scanning the area.

 

Suddenly Trip thought he saw something. Touching his ear-piece to activate the audio he said, "North, look to your right again."

 

The commando obeyed scanning the area.

 

"Do you see that Malcolm?"

 

"Yes, they've set charges inside the facility. They're going to blow it up."

 

More charges were spotted as the team progressed deeper into the mountainside camp.

 

"Malcolm, they mean to level this place."

__________________________________________

 

Three Arkonians approached the cell where the hostages were being kept. One knelt and began to set an explosive charge about two meters from the cell. Once it was placed and armed, the lead guard stepped forward and opened the door.

 

Pointing at the doctor, he said, "You, pick up the bag and come with me."

 

Not moving, Doctor Pandit looked at Thomas.

 

Pointing his gun at the injured Rita Davenport, the guard growled, "Now!"

 

Thomas leaned down and picked up the sack of supplies, holding it out toward the doctor.

 

"Better do as he says, Doc."

 

The frightened doctor took the bag and was ushered from the cell. One guard leading him away.

 

"What are you going to do with us?" The young security man asked.

 

One of the two remaining guards spoke up, "The doctor is going with us. You are going to die. We were going to leave you to die in the explosion, but I have a better idea. I'm going to take the little Vulcan's head for a souvenir."

 

The guard pulled his sword and advanced forward.

 

Rita Davenport shakily rose to her feet, "Over our dead bodies," she said, as she and Thomas Sullivan placed themselves in front of the Vulcan nurse.

 

Thomas assumed a fighting stance, "Yeah, what she said."

__________________________________________

 

West saw an Arkonian taking Doctor Pandit down a hallway. With a quick gesture he indicated that he would follow them and for the others to continue on. Tucker and Reed watched while West proceeded to follow the doctor. As West slipped up behind the Arkonian, the doctor glancing around nervously caught sight of him and reacted, alerting the guard. The rebel turned in time to catch the wrist of West as he attempted to deliver a killing blow. The two soldiers fought with all they had. While the Arkonian may have had a slight edge in strength, West had the benefit of years of training under Commander Reed. It was no contest. With great skill, West took the guard down. Once he was on the ground, a quick snap was all it took to break his neck. As West stood, Dr. Pandit began to back away, seemingly unsure if he was friend or foe. Muttering a curse to himself, West reached out and grabbed the frightened doctor's arm. He slapped a transporter tag on his shoulder and activated it; the doctor instantly disappeared in a sparkling swirl. Turning back the way he had come, the commando headed toward his companions.

__________________________________________

 

The two rebel guards advanced on T'Ana, Rita, and Thomas. T'Ana was far from helpless although she only had basic Starfleet training, since she had chosen Starfleet over service in the Vulcan military. The hate that these Arkonians felt for off-worlders was evident in the pleasure they were taking in attacking their prisoners. Thomas was keeping a close eye on the sword; he knew from experience how sharp it was. Nurse Reese had died in an instant. The ensign had a sick feeling in his stomach that he would not be able to protect these two exceptional women. Under ordinary circumstances, Rita would be able to kick this guy's ass, but with one arm she was at a huge disadvantage. As he tried to decide how to take on both rebels, Rita spoke up as if reading his mind.

 

"She is our job, Sullivan, look after her. It's what we do. I'll handle this guy." She indicated the rebel without a drawn sword.

 

Thomas had so much respect for Davenport; she embodied all that security officers were supposed to be. When the rebel charged Rita she executed a perfect kick to the Arkonian's head, causing him to stagger backwards. Thomas in turn rushed his Arkonian getting in under the sword and delivering several blows to his stomach. Unfortunatly for Davenport, her assailant regrouped, coming at her from her bad side. He got in two good punches, one to her broken arm and the other to her face. The combination left her dazed on the floor.

 

The rebels were enjoying the fight but both knew they had little time. The facility was due to be destroyed in a very few minutes. All the explosives were on a synchronized timer.

 

Glancing at the explosive, Thomas's opponent realized he needed to hurry. He didn't want to lose his prize. Giving Thomas a huge shove, the Arkonian raised his sword and slashed at T'Ana's neck. At the last instant Thomas rushed in raising his left arm for protection and shoved T'Ana aside. As if in slow motion they both saw the sword sever Thomas's arm between his elbow and shoulder and watched it fall away.

__________________________________________

 

North was in the lead as the commando's raced down the corridor. He could hear voices and recognized that they were not Arkonian. The commandos broke into the open in time to see both women on the floor and a large blade slice through Ensign Sullivan's arm.

__________________________________________

 

Trip watched in horror, the scene that was playing out on his monitor. A choked scream welled up in his throat as he watched the bloody sword raised again to finish the job.

__________________________________________

 

The rebel cursed in frustration. Time was running out and the two Arkonians had had enough. It was time to kill the hostages and get out. The sword, dripping blood, was raised overhead. It was time to finish this annoying human. He noticed with a smile that the Vulcan had covered the man's body with her own and was pressing on his wound. Good he thought, two with a single stroke. Suddenly, he felt a pressure in his chest. Looking down, he could see the blade of a knife protruding from his body. Dropping his sword, he glanced at his companion and was surprised to see him in an identical state. Both Arkonians fell to their knees wondering as they died how this had happened.

__________________________________________

 

Without an instants hesitation upon entering the chamber, North and East simultaneously drew their knives and hurled them with pinpoint accuracy. Taking down the rebels in the blink of an eye. East stepped over the Arkonian's body to Rita, while North moved to the other two. South bent to examine the explosive device.

 

"She's unconscious," declared East of Rita as he lifted her in his arms.

 

"Take her; we'll be right behind you."

 

The commando, with Davenport in his arms, vanished.

 

North spoke to T'Ana, "Hold onto his wound, I'm sending you together." He slapped the tags on them and with that the the two former hostages disappeared.

 

West barreled into the room, "The doctor's been recovered."

 

"Good, help me recover Sullivan's arm for the medics." It was not immediately visible; North thought it might be under the dead Arkonian.

 

South stood, "Got no visual on it and got no time. Go. Now!"

 

Both knew enough not to argue. As the three commandos became swirling patterns of sparkling light, the device exploded.

__________________________________________

 

Trip and Malcolm had observed the rescue and received a signal that everyone had arrived on Saratoga. Trip was trying not to worry about his nephew; there was still work to be done. Reed had refocused the scanner to the area a half kilometer away where the rebels were loading supplies and equipment removed from the camp. About a hundred rebels from the three camps were loading two large transport ships. Minor explosions were still rocking the area around the collapsing mountainside camp.

 

"Well what do we do now, we hadn't planned on them making a run for it before Zho'Kaan's soldiers arrived," Trip huffed.

 

The Arkonians had never developed much of a transporter system because it seemed to adversely affect their endocrine system even under ideal circumstances. The original plan had been to get the prisoners out safely and then Zho'Kaan's troops would shuttle in and clean up the garbage. However, now Tucker and Reed feared that the rebels would escape before the troops arrived. Zho'Kaan's men were still about twenty minutes out.

 

"I can't bear the thought of these bastards getting away, Trip."

 

Both men were looking over the equipment that they had with them.

 

Suddenly Trip smiled, "You know with a minor adjustment these extra trasporter tags would be very powerful locator beacons, they'd cut through any interference."

 

Malcolm was on the same page, "If you could rig a delivery device that would fit my rifle, we could slip down there and fire a couple into those ships, there would be nowhere they could hide."

 

Trip had a tool in his hand and was already making the quick adjustment to six of the tags.

 

"Malcolm, hand me six of the rounds your rifle uses."

 

Archer's voice came over the surveillance gear, "Why haven't you two transported up yet? The troops will be there soon to mop up."

 

"Sir, they're buggin' out, we don't think the good guys will get here in time. Me and Malcolm have a plan to put a locator on their ships. I guarantee we'll be on board in ten minutes."

 

"You better be, or T'Pol and Helen will kill me." Archer out.

__________________________________________

 

The two humans crawled on their bellies to the edge of the ridge still a half kilometer from the rebel transports. It appeared that most of the activity was around the loading ramp. All the supplies and most of the rebels were on board. They could tell preflight procedures had been activated.

 

"We have to go quickly, Trip." Reed loaded the first jury-rigged cartridge into his sniper rifle. It was the most advanced weapon of its type complete with night scope and silencer. Reed had personally overseen its design and development for his team.

 

"Are you sure you can hit it from this distance?"

 

Reed merely gave Trip his familiar smirk. Malcolm fired six times in rapid succession. Three tags per ship, hoping some of the locators would be undamaged.  Not a single rebel reacted to the locators hitting the transports amidst the noisy work of loading the vehicles.

 

Trip gave his friend a grin as they started crawling backwards, down the ridge. At the command post, the pair saw the reassuring green glow of five of the six locators.

__________________________________________

 

Reed and Tucker appeared on the Saratoga transporter pad. Archer and Captain Hodge were waiting for them.

 

"Are you getting the signal?" Trip wanted to know.

 

"Loud and clear Captain Tucker, the Arkonians are monitoring the signal and following both ships. There's no way they're getting away," Captain Hodge said with satisfaction.

 

"That's good to hear, how is Thomas?"

 

Archer anwered, "He's in surgery Trip, their giving him blood and working on his...arm."

 

Trip stepped forward, "I need to be there."

 

Malcolm reached out a hand to stop him, "Trip, you can't and they won't even let you near him after surgery until you clean up. Go to your quarters and have a shower. Then you can go to sickbay."

 

Trip heaved a weary sigh, "Your right Malcolm, I need to call the family anyway."

__________________________________________

 

Trip waited for his second call to go through. He had already spoken to his wife. It was comforting for him to see his wife's lovely face. He told T'Pol what had happened and made sure she was well, telling her he'd call back later. He dreaded having to face Sean and Michelle, feeling he had let them down. The comm screen came to life with the faces of his sister and brother-in-law. He began speaking without preamble.

 

"We have Thomas, he's alive but he's been seriously injured, Chelle."

 

"Will he live Trip?" He could see how worried they both were.

 

"Yes, but he lost his left arm. It was severed before we could get to him and then was destroyed in an explosion so it can't be reattached. I'm so sorry Michelle, if he hadn't joined Starfleet because of me, this never would have happened."

 

"Trip Tucker I will never speak to you again if you don't stop spouting that crap. Thomas was doing what he loved. You're bringing my baby home alive, that's all we could ask of you."

 

Trip could see Sean embrace his crying wife. He spoke next.

 

"My son loves being in Starfleet, Trip, his desire to protect people is deeply ingrained in him. His choice of calling is not for either of us to question. Thank you for aiding in his rescue."

 

Trip felt a tear roll down his cheek. "I love you guys. I'm going to sit with Thomas now. As soon as he's up to it I'll arrange a call."

 

Michelle gave her brother a watery smile, "Tell him we love him and can't wait to talk to him. We love you too, Trip."

__________________________________________

 

As Trip entered sickbay he saw a pretty young Vulcan woman standing by Thomas' bed. She was cleaned up and in a fresh uniform. He knew who she was of course, calling her by name as he walked up.

 

"T'Ana, it's an honor to finally meet you."

 

"It is agreeable to meet you as well, Captain Tucker. During our captivity, Thomas told me much about you and your family."

 

"How is he doing?"

 

"Very well considering the trauma he has endured. I endeavored to keep pressure on his wound, but he lost a considerable amount of blood. Hopefully he will regain consciousness soon."

 

Trip reached out and touched his nephew's cheek. He looked so damn young on the bio-bed, pale and swathed in bandages.

 

"Captain Tucker, I owe Thomas for my continued existence.  Without his care I would not have survived this experience." Bowing her head she quickly left.

 

Well damn, Trip thought, that was practically an emotional break down for a Vulcan.

__________________________________________

 

Trip had been sitting in a chair beside his nephew's bed for several hours. He had spoken to all the former hostages as they came by to check on Thomas. Dr. Pandit had seriously frayed nerves, but was fine. Rita Davenport came by before returning to her quarters. As with most crewmembers, she was eager to get out of sickbay. Once her arm was set and her face treated, she talk the doctor into letting her go, even though it turned out she also had a concussion. Rita told Trip how Thomas had given them someone to look to for leadership when they most needed it. T'Ana had come by multiple times. The last time she offered to escort Davenport to her quarters, as she was still a bit wobbly. Trip realized that these were very good people and was glad they had made it out of that horror alive.

 

They had just found out that there was a traitor near President Rhath'Mar, feeding him misinformation. He had alerted the rebels to Zho'Kaan's suspicion of their location. This was why they were moving out. Fortunately he had no knowledge of the rescue plan.

 

Thomas began to stir, blinking his eyes. Trip stood up in his field of vision.

 

"Uncle Trip?" the young man asked, evidently confused.

 

"Yeah, Sport, it's me. How're you doing?"

 

"Too soon to tell." Thomas smiled at his uncle. "I guess you guys found us?"

 

Suddenly events fell into focus. Thomas's eyes opened wide.

 

"T'Ana, Rita, the Doc. Did everybody get out? Are they okay?"

 

"They're all fine; they've been telling me how you took care of them." Trip took the young man's face in his hands. "You did good, Thomas."

__________________________________________

 

T'Ana came into sickbay and peaked around the curtain. She had no desire to disturb Thomas if he were sleeping. He smiled at the beautiful Vulcan.

 

"Come in and talk to me, Uncle Trip just left."

 

"Are you feeling better?" she asked moving to the bedside.

 

"I'm not sure how I feel. While I'm happy we all made it, I feel like I should have been able to save Samantha and Stanley."

 

"I spoke to Rita ealier, she is of the same opinion about herself, and I fear it is the mind set of all security officers to think more about the people they lost than the ones they saved."

 

"Speaking of which, I guess my career in security is over now. I've been thinking about what else I might want to do."

 

"Surely you will not be discharged from Starfleet. That would be an unforgivable waste of a valuable resource."

 

Thomas smiled, "Aw, you say the sweetest things." Upon seeing T'Ana's scowl, he began to chuckle. "I'm just teasing you." His smile faded, "Actually that was a very kind sentiment. Starfleet's policy is that once I've been fitted with a prosthetic arm, after therapy and retraining, if I can pass the basic fitness tests I can stay. The only thing is, security is out of the question. They've had prosthetics to fail in a crisis, so I won't be allowed to stay in that department. I'm going to need to go into another field. Uncle Trip is voting for engineering."

 

"You have plenty of time for such decisions. Now, you should concentrate on your physical and mental health."

 

"Spoken like a true healer. I've already talked to a psychologist at Starfleet Medical; we're setting up a schedule of sessions when we get back." Thomas glanced to where his left arm used to be. "I get a little depressed sometimes thinking about this. But you know, I think I'll be alright." Jokingly he added, "Though, I may have a little trouble finding a girlfriend now."

 

Thomas was shocked when T'Ana reached out and touched his cheek, "Any female that would think less of you because of this wound is not worthy of a man like you."

__________________________________________

 

The backyard of the Tucker home in San Francisco had tables set up everywhere. Thomas had just passed his physical fitness test and it was decided, this was cause for celebration. The guest list had been expanded to include not only family, but many people involved in the hostage crisis.

 

Malcolm and Helen Reed were sitting at one of the tables deep in conversation with Charles and Robin Tucker. All the time, Malcolm was keeping one eye on his energetic twin boys who were in the treehouse with an assortment of Tucker children.

 

Trip was at the grill cooking steaks, burgers and hot dogs, arguing with his brother Alan about the definition of 'rare'. While T'Pol, Michelle, and Julia were loading a table with bowls of salad, pasta dishes, corn, and watermelon, Thomas and T'Ana had commandeered the swing to observe the 'goings on'. As the couple on the porch swing watched, Sullivans and Tuckers milled about talking and laughing.

 

T'Ana had been honored to be invited to this gathering. Observing the graciousness and ease of interaction of her hostess. T'Ana was in awe of T'Pol Tucker and the way she seem to effortlessly meld with her human family members, still keeping true to her Vulcan heritage. She set a standard to which T'Ana aspired.

 

Other that the Captain's Tucker, and Soval, the Vulcan woman had been most intrigued by Thomas' cousin T'Resa.  They had a long conversation on Vulcan and human literature during which, T'Ana was impressed by the knowledge and logic of the young woman. Morgan Tucker had approached and said something that made his sister burst into laughter. It was a sight that T'Ana would need time to become accustom to.

 

Michelle walked up to her son and his companion with a smile, "Are you two having a good time?"

 

"Yep, Mom we..."

 

"Good Lord! What are those two doin'?"

 

Thomas looked in the direction his suddenly frowning mother indicated. He could see his two younger brothers sitting under a tree with Rita Davenport. All three had their clothing in various stages of disarray. Mark's shirt was off and Brian had his pants pulled down on his left hip. Rita had her blouse pulled up showing her midriff.

 

Thomas began to laugh so hard he feared he truly would split a side. He leaned over to catch his breath, gasping to his confused Mother.

 

"Those two idiot brothers of mine are comparing scars with Rita. As if any of their rugby scars would be a match for Rita's collection." Thomas wiped the tears from his eyes as his Mother stomped off to discuss decorum with her youngest sons.

 

"As I said Thomas, a colorful clan." T'Ana remarked.

 

T'Pol approached the couple sitting in the swing. She was carrying a squirming six-month-old. 

 

"Thomas, your cousin has awakened from her nap. Would you care to entertain her while your grandmother, mother, and I finish the meal?"

 

Smiling at his aunt he replied, "It would be my pleasure to entertain the munchkin." Thomas took the baby in his arms. Unbelievably, he had become so accustom to his 'state of the art' prosthetic arm that it seemed a true part of him now. The bio mechanical marvel of engineering functioned very much like the real thing.

 

"Munchkin?" T'Ana asked with a raised eyebrow.

 

Thomas laughed, "Another of those pesky nicknames you don't believe in."

 

"Ah, I see. Have you decided on your next assignment, since you passed your physical fitness test?"

 

Thomas used his foot to set the swing into a slow motion. "Actually, I'm going to stay here and work in the engineering department at R&D."

 

T'Ana reached out and took T'San from Thomas' arms. "Have I mentioned that I am beginning medical school at Starfleet Medical?"

 

Thomas smiled at his companion. They sat in comfortable silence for a while, both with similar thoughts of their time together in that awful Arkonian cell.

 

"I told you we would sit in this swing one day and hold my Aunt T'Pol's baby." Thomas remarked wistfully.

 

T'Ana raised the baby to her shoulder with satisfaction. While patting T'San's back she remarked, "And I was correct, it is agreeable to hold a child in my arms."

 

Trip bumped T'Pol's hip with his and nodded toward the swing, "Don't they make a great couple?" Smiling he added, "Remind you of anyone?"

 

"You are what your mother refers to as a 'hopeless romantic'."  T'Pol glanced back at Thomas and T'Ana holding her child, "However, they do present an agreeable picture."

 

The End

 


Comments:

Kotik

This is the best installment by a mile. I really like the chemistry between Thomas and T'Ana. Don't leave us hangin' with just one story of the two :p

Mary

We, your readers, owe you so much for writing this series. Love languages has been a wonderful  way to give us happiness and continued contact with our favorite characters.This was especially good as you brought in Malcolm and Archer. Great sstory with some very interesting new characters. I really like Thomas, partly because he is so much like Trip but also because of his ease with dealing with aliens -T'Ana and accepting responsibility. A very likeable personality. Thanks for writing and please keep  doing more "episodes" as we never tire of spending some quality time with enterprise.

Alelou

Ah, that was so sweet -- and a real adventure, too!  Good ending, suggestive but not too much.  And I totally agree with T'Ana about this: "It is the practice on Vulcan to spend your first ten years as a nurse before you begin training as a healer. It is thought that this developes humility and a greater appreciation of that skill set."

bluetiger

Funny you should mention that krn, my 'regret' short story adresses that very thing.

krn

another great addition to your story.  If T'Pol & Trip keep having kids every 7 years - how old are they?!  Trip's gotta be getting a smidge up there to be chasing after carpet crawlers.:D

bluetiger

I really want to thank you guys for the encouragement. As all you writers know, sometimes the characters just grab you by the collar and take you where they want to go. I'm trying hard with each story to improve my craft and your support helps immensely. The Arkonians were the first species that came to mind when thinking of friendly enemies. The thing about Thomas is that he has no trepidation around Vulcans because they have always been a part of his family, no unease there. And I've always seen Malcolm as so career driven that he would almost miss the boat on having a family unless a strong woman took the bull by the horns. 

BnB

OK, I can do better than that. You OCs are quite impressive. Fully fleshed out individuals. I like the idea of aomeone usin the Arkonians. Personally, I had forgoten about those guys, which is shameful. They are a great race and deserve to be included in fanon. Nice to see more of Trip's extended family, and it was cute the way their kids hovered over Mama. :) Sounds like the way my daughter hovered over my wife when our son was on the way.

 

BnB

Impressive. More please? Now?

 

Dinah

This story has it all:  action, suspense, romance, political intrigue.  With every story you're building a wonderful family for the Tuckers.  Thomas is another great addition.  Once he showed a knowledge of Vulcans, I just knew T'Ana was interested.  It's interesting that Thomas picked up his uncle's leadership ability.

I was really impressed by your use of the Arkonians and Zho'Kaan.  The mission to save the hostage was very well done.

I'm probably going to get in trouble for this, but I was really glad to see that you matched up Malcolm with someone besides Hoshi.  I think he might look for someone outside of Starfleet who provide a home completely separate from his job.

It was a nice touch when the captain of the Saratoga realized that he was briefing three living legends.  And of course it's always nice to have a new baby in the Tucker family.  Congratulations on a terrific story, Bluetiger!  

Asso

And, rereading this story, it's possible to take many lines very pretty. Enlightening, I could say, as this one

Ensign Hines fidgeted a little nervously, "I tried that sir but the caller would not take no for an answer. Captain Tucker can be very intimidating, even on the comm."

Awesome. :p

Asso

Okay. Family is growing, isn't it? ;)
Very, very nice, great. And I agree with WarpGirl: there is here a perfect mix of action and fluff, and - honestly ,  BlueTiger - I'm really  full of admiration, because - placidly and quietly - you  are powerfully improving your world (a world which I feel also as mine) and your bravure.
Anyway, WarpGirl, I think your concern about the similarity between Trip/T'Pol and Thomas/T'Ana has no reason for existing, because I'm sure that BlueTiger has many other things in store, and she will be capable of showing us a great lot of differences.
I think she has many, many things to narrate about Trip and T'Pol, yet. And- who knows - also about Thomas and T'Ana.
I EAGERLY HOPE!:D

WarpGirl

YEY! Perfect mix of action and fluff. Sometimes action is needed to get the adrenaline going, and fluff is good for dopamine, and seritonan. I really liked this a lot. The only thing I'd be careful of is making T'Ana and Thomas too much like TnT, they were very, very, similar. If you continue with them, and I'm not above BEGGING, maybe incorporating some more distinct differences in their personalites, and relationship. 

Entilzha

Great story. Cute ending. Thanks :)

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