Author's Note: I'm afraid this isn't one of the sweeter scenes. And many thanks as always, you kind reviewers!
Trip wanted to jump out of his skin. How could she be so nonchalant about the captain and Travis in the hands of unknown aliens, facing judgment? What if that smooth-talking bureaucrat was covering for something? What if they were being interrogated or tortured even as Enterprise obediently headed towards the supposed location of this ridiculous hearing?
But T’Pol was in command. T’Pol was in command. And that was how Archer wanted it. That had been the captain’s judgment. That was the only thing that kept him from jumping up and trying to argue his case with her one more time.
Of course, as it was, he’d almost lapsed into insubordination once again. If he wasn’t careful, he was going to get thrown in the brig. Or off the ship. That wouldn’t help the captain and Travis any. Or his career.
He took a deep breath. This would be so much easier for him if he could just trust her to do the right thing, but he couldn’t – because she was so damned Vulcan, because she was so damned pigheaded about respecting other cultures whether they respected theirs or not, no matter who was at risk.
But there was little point in arguing further. He was quite sure she wouldn’t be interested in anything he had to say. Not now. After their time spent helping Liana and Ezral, she’d turned distinctly frosty with him. Clearly, to her mind he’d been unforgivably unprofessional with yet another alien woman, even though nothing could be further from the truth – in EITHER case.
He sometimes wished he HAD been unprofessional with Liana. It had been really nice, being in the company of a pretty young woman who obviously liked him, instead of being coldly stared at by a tight-assed Vulcan who viewed him as something akin to a talking baboon.
He took another deep breath, trying to calm down. Getting all het up wasn’t going to help Jon or Travis at all. He did another check of systems. They needed to be ready to go, just in case she suddenly decided they could actually do something.
“Commander Tucker, may I see you in the captain’s ready room?”
She had stood up after a brief period at the science station. He exchanged a quick look with Malcolm. Now what?
Well, no doubt he would soon know. He licked his lips nervously and followed her in.
“Yes ma’m?” he said, standing nearly at attention in front of Archer’s desk as she sat down behind it.
“You clearly disapprove of our present course. I am curious to hear your alternative proposal.”
“I think we need to find out where they’re holding our people and make sure they’re okay.”
“Unfortunately, there is no obvious way to find out where they are holding our people at this time. And although the relationship is not close, the Tandarans are well known to Vulcans,” T’Pol said. “Neither the people nor the government has a reputation for being cruel or unreasonable.”
“They’re detaining two members of our crew simply for being in their space. And even though they already admit they know they had no evil designs, they still insist on putting them through a legal hearing. You don’t call that unreasonable?”
“It merely suggests a strongly hierarchical social organization layered with bureacracy. Not all cultures embrace the same level of individual autonomy that Earth does.”
“Yeah, well, that would be all fine and good if we were just trying to get a fishing license. But we’ve got two crewmen’s lives at stake here!”
“As I said, Commander, they do not have a reputation for being cruel or unreasonable. However, they might justifiably become hostile if we attempt to circumvent their judicial system.”
“I can deal with that.”
She just stared at him. He bowed his head. They would never understand each other, never.
“I looked up ‘electric chair’,” she said.
He slumped. He knew he’d gone a little too far with that remark.
“I fail to see the logic in preferring our crewmen’s execution to seeking the help of a Vulcan arbitrator.”
“There is no logic in it,” Tucker said. “I didn’t really mean it. I was just angry.” But of course that wouldn’t make any sense to her, would it? “I shouldn’t have said it. I apologize.”
“Allowing your emotions to overwhelm you during a sensitive contact with alien cultures is not particularly wise,” T’Pol said. “Clearly, having the emotional reaction is an inescapable part of your nature. Still, I would urge you to try harder not to verbalize your feelings in such a dramatic fashion in front of others. It sets a poor example for the rest of the crew.”
“Yes, ma’m.” He stared down, jaw locked tight. He knew she was right, but it still felt like being kicked when he was already down.
Silence stretched on. He stared mulishly at the deck plating, long enough to start looking for flaws in the joints. He finally looked up and caught her looking rather uncharacteristically bleak. “Dismissed,” she said softly.
So he left. Malcolm lifted his eyebrows inquisitively. Trip just scowled.
He sat down and sighed heavily. The truth was, even if T’Pol wasn’t being so damned Vulcan, they wouldn’t know where to go. For now they truly had no better choice than doing as the Tandarans had requested.
“You think there might be any way to get a better lock on that carrier wave if they contact us again?” he asked Malcolm softly.
Malcolm frowned. “I’ve been wondering about that. What if we triangulated between the tactical sensors, the communications array, and the science sensors?”
“That shouldn’t be too hard to set up. Would it leave us vulnerable to attack?”
“Shouldn’t. I don’t need all the sensors, just enough to get the job done. But I would need permission to redirect them – particularly the science sensors. Our science officer is pretty particular about how they are deployed.”
Trip stared unhappily at the ready room door. “I think it’d probably be better if you asked her.”
Malcolm somehow managed to look both amused and vaguely disapproving. “Cover my station?”
Trip moved into Malcolm’s warm seat and quickly checked all the tactical scans and status displays. It was perhaps a useful reminder that the plan he had suggested would put them at risk of battle.
But that he didn’t mean he wasn’t still itching for a fight.
Next installment: Vox Sola.
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