Author's Note: Many thanks to JustTripn for beta.
Kendra groaned. She felt as if she were made of lead. “Mmm?” she grunted; it was too much effort to form a complete word; even her thoughts felt heavy.
“How do you feel?” The voice was soft and tense.
Kendra blinked, trying to clear her vision. “T’Pol?” she asked. She took a breath then choked and coughed, trying not to gag. Wherever they were, it reeked unbearably of animal piss or musk or both. She allowed the science officer, who looked unharmed, to help her sit up. She blinked at their surroundings: a moderately sized, well-lit room with dingy walls and a bare floor badly stained by organic residue. A couple of buckets sat in one corner. Four small furry alien beings – or perhaps simply animals, since they were not clothed – sat on their haunches in the opposite corner, staring sullenly at them. Behind T’Pol, Tucker lay curled on his side.
“Oh!” Kendra said, and scrambled over to him. She took his pulse from feel alone, since she had no scanner and no way to measure time. Thankfully it felt strong, though his color was on the pale side and his breathing a bit shallower than she would have liked. She looked up at T’Pol. “Where are we?”
“I believe we’re aboard an Orion slaver.” T’Pol’s voice was as calm as ever but her shoulders were hunched. “I have not been able to rouse him. Is he okay?”
Kendra checked Tucker’s pupils. “Yeah, I think so. I’m not surprised it would be taking him a little longer to shake off the effects of a stun.” Kendra looked around. The creatures in the corner were still staring. “We’re the only ones they took?”
“So it would appear, unless they have other holding cells.”
“Who are they?” Kendra nodded toward the aliens.
“I don’t recognize their species,” T’Pol said. “They appear to be primates of a lower order; they have not responded to my attempts to communicate with them in any way that suggests they are capable of rational discourse.”
“Why are they here, then?”
“I don’t know.”
“And why are we here?”
T’Pol frowned. “I have no answers for you, doctor.”
Kendra blinked. The fact that they had made off with the only two people on the ship immune to Orion influence struck her as an unlikely coincidence. “Do you think they purposely targeted you and Tucker?”
T’Pol lowered her voice. “We must assume they are listening.”
It had been awhile since the training she’d received on how to behave in enemy hands. “Sorry.”
The lights dimmed for a moment and the door swished open. A large Orion stomped into the room with his weapon ready and Kendra froze, wondering if this was her fault. T’Pol positioned herself in front of the still unconscious Tucker.
But the Orion’s annoyed glance merely flickered over them before moving on to the huddled creatures in the corner. He lifted his weapon in their direction, and they immediately started shrieking and running and leaping about the room in a noisy panic. The Orion missed his first two shots before finally dropping one of them. He picked it up by the scruff of its neck and hauled it off while its comrades continued jumping and screaming.
The horrible smell intensified. The creatures in their panic had apparently urinated or worse.
Kendra realized that she was trembling. She took a deep breath, trying to calm herself. “I hope I don’t wet myself if one of those guys points his gun at me.”
T’Pol regarded her. “You didn’t before.”
“I have more time to think about it now. Plus I have to pee.”
“One of those buckets appears to have been provided for that purpose,” T’Pol said. “The other contains water.”
Kendra sighed and walked over to the bucket – one held water, the other was empty. That made sense. It certainly didn’t smell as if the other inhabitants of the room were bothering with it. They were still chittering away amongst themselves as she investigated her options. This was one of the many times she cursed whoever had designed Starfleet’s uniforms – probably a man.
T’Pol noticed her hesitation. “I’m afraid privacy is not something slaves are generally afforded,” she said. “I could try to screen you if you wish.”
Kendra sighed. “Guess I might as well get used to it.” She struggled with her jumpsuit. “You’d think they’d at least provide a little basic hygiene. Keep the merchandise alive longer.” The furry things were staring at her, so she turned her back on them. “Yeah, I am mooning you little monkeys,” she muttered, keeping her back to them. “Enjoy the show. Don’t suppose you have a private stash of toilet paper, T’Pol?”
Tucker groaned and Kendra finished and zipped back into her uniform quickly.
“What the hell?” he said, grimacing. “T’Pol? What’s that smell?”
“We were abducted by Orions,” T’Pol said, and helped him sit up. He stared blearily at her, then looked around with obvious dismay.
“How are you feeling?” Kendra asked.
“How long has it been?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” T’Pol said. “I estimate that I have been conscious for approximately two hours and twenty minutes.”
The door swished open again and the earlier Orion strode in with another pail. He dumped it out on the floor between the humans and the monkey creatures: it was clearly a dismembered, roasted version of the animal he’d taken away earlier.
To Kendra’s surprise, the creatures at the end of the room quickly darted forward and grabbed pieces to take back with them. They chewed intently. “Don’t they realize?” she said.
“Cannibalism is not uncommon in creatures that are starving,” T’Pol said. “It would be a good idea for both of you to eat while you can.”
“What about you?” Tucker said.
“Vulcans don’t eat the flesh of animals.”
Tucker put his hand on her arm. “Even if there’s nothing else available? Is that logical?”
“If it comes to a choice between living and dying, I will eat what I must. But I am not at that point yet.”
“The captain would make you eat,” Tucker said. “He’d make it an order. You need to keep your strength up.”
Further discussion came to an end when the door swished open again and a couple of Orion males walked in, weapons up. “Come,” they said.
They didn’t go far. There was a medical lab close by. An Orion woman in typically scanty dress sauntered up to them as they stood – Tucker a touch unsteadily – in a row in front of the two males. Kendra’s head began to throb, though she wasn’t certain whether it was from the Orion woman’s pheromones or the situation they were in.
The woman started with Tucker. “You should be dead,” she observed, and ran a scanner over him. “But I see someone patched you up. Hmm.” She ran a finger down his front, which made him shy back. “Still not responding to a pretty girl, Commander? Whatever is the matter with you?” She stepped even closer and cupped him through his pajamas. His mouth set in disgusted line. “Are you shy? Or more attracted to men?” She signaled a male colleague who had been standing in the background to come forward. “You try,” she said, with a little irritated flounce.
The Orion grinned and proceeded to feel up the engineer. Tucker tried to back away, which merely drove him back against one of their guards, who laughingly cooperated in the process. Tucker’s face turned white. Kendra, standing between him and T’Pol, noted the first officer’s stance turning rigid, her nostrils flaring, and she put a hand on her arm without much hope that it would help an enraged Vulcan stay put.
The Orion female was staring into her scanner. “Might as well leave off, Tralaan. You are a quite a curiosity, Tucker. We couldn’t find any compounds in your blood to account for your immunity, and even if there were any we’d expect them to have started wearing off by now.” She scanned Kendra next. “You’re quite typical,” she said with a sneer. She moved on to T’Pol, who stared coldly back at her. “And you’re a Vulcan. We already know your people are immune to our charms. Tell me, Vulcan, why is Mr. Tucker the only human we’ve found who is completely unaffected by us?”
“I couldn’t say,” T’Pol said.
“Really? No idea at all?”
“As I said.”
“We’ve been told that you and Tucker are notorious for having mated across species. Is that why he’s immune?”
T’Pol just stared stonily back at her.
“What if you were to die? Would he still be immune then?”
T’Pol’s eyes darted to Tucker.
“Leave her alone!” he said.
The Orion shook her head. “I’m simply looking for answers here. If I can’t get them from you, I’ll have to get them through a process of elimination.” She smirked and signaled one of the guards, who started to adjust his weapon.
“Okay, you guessed it!” Tucker said quickly. “We’re bonded. That’s why I’m immune.”
“Ah.” The woman shot T’Pol an approving look. “Apparently you Vulcan women have an even more profound effect on your men than we do.” She turned back to Tucker. “What happens if she’s unconscious?” the Orion asked Tucker, and signaled the guard.
“Wait!” Tucker said.
But the Orion adjusted his weapon again and casually shot T’Pol; Kendra caught her before she could topple to the deck.
“You bastards!” Tucker struggled uselessly against the giant Orion guard.
Kendra lowered T’Pol to the floor and felt for a pulse. “She’s okay, Trip,” she reassured him. “Please don’t exert yourself.”
“You’re the doctor?” the Orion woman said.
Kendra looked at Tucker. Should she answer? He nodded.
“Excellent. That could raise your price. You humans are so fragile and short-lived, you don’t generate much interest in the market.” She turned back to Tucker. “You see, the doctor says your mate is fine. Just unconscious. So she won’t need to know anything you don’t want to tell her.” She moved in toward him until, from Kendra’s point of view, it looked like she had glued herself onto him. “We’re told you’re quite a talented engineer. Do your talents extend into other areas? They must be quite extraordinary to earn a Vulcan’s affection.”
Tucker’s voice was pure venom. “Get away from me.”
The woman stepped back. “Fine. Let’s try adding some distance to the equation.” She turned to the guards. “Dal, darling, please take the women back to the holding cell. Fharat, my dear, you get to come with me.”
Fharat, by far the largest of the three men in the room, grinned with anticipation; Dal scowled and pointed his gun at Kendra. “Move,” he said. He picked T’Pol up and slung her over his shoulder. “Hurry!”
Kendra shared a last alarmed glance with Tucker and walked out.
Kendra stepped back into the holding cell and gagged, but her stomach was so empty nothing came up. It reeked worse than ever after their absence – Fharat made a sound of disgust himself and stepped in only far enough to sling T’Pol down to the floor.
“Don’t you people ever clean these cells?” Kendra demanded, dropping to her side.
Fharat chuckled. “Oh, we clean them all right.” The door slid shut.
Kendra gently untangled T’Pol from the heap she’d been dropped in. The creatures in the back corner, who had jumped up in alarm, settled back down into a huddled mass. The cleaned bones of the comrade they had eaten were neatly piled in a corner.
Kendra was hungry and thirsty. She drank water from the bucket, cupping it in her hands. It was already dirty from the creatures having been into it but she couldn’t afford to think about that now.
She went back and sat next to T’Pol and tried not to nod off. With the lights on continuously and no way to keep time, she had no idea if it was day or night, but she was dead tired. Eventually the wrinkling of T’Pol’s nose signaled that she was waking; a moment later she shot to her feet and stood swaying.
“How long?” she asked Kendra.
“I’m not sure. Maybe an hour?”
“They have not returned Commander Tucker.”
“No, not yet.”
T’Pol walked to the door and leaned her head against it for a brief moment.
“Can you feel a connection to him?” Kendra asked, then winced. That perhaps qualified as giving away too much information.
“He is in no condition for this!” T’Pol said.
T’Pol paced impatiently for a few moments longer, then abruptly dropped to the floor. “I will meditate,” she said, and was silent.
Kendra awoke when she heard T’Pol say, “Trip!”
Kendra blinked into the endless glare and watched T’Pol catch the engineer before he could hit the floor. The guard left without a second glance.
T’Pol held Tucker clasped tightly in her arms longer than was strictly necessary, then carefully lowered him to the deck. He was moving restlessly but appeared to be half-conscious at best.
“He’s been fitted with a neural restraint,” T’Pol said, showing Kendra the device embedded just below his left ear. “It is a most disagreeable device.”
“Commander?” Kendra asked, patting Tucker gently on the cheeks, trying to rouse him. “Trip?” The right side of his face was drooping and all his movement, she suddenly realized, were on the left side. His pulse was weak and rapid and his reflexes on the right were significantly delayed. “Something neurological is going on here. Is there any point in asking them for medical assistance?”
“I don’t know,” T’Pol said grimly. “Trip,” she said. “Trip, look at me.”
But he was oblivious.
T’Pol frowned and leaned forward, her hands reaching out for Tucker’s face. “My mind to your mind,” she whispered.
Kendra sat back and watched, fascinated, as T’Pol engaged in something she’d only ever read about before. T’Pol stilled, her eyes closed intently, and Tucker stilled too; Kendra could feel his pulse slow and deepen under her fingers.
Eventually T’Pol withdrew, blinking, and sat back for a moment, breathing hard. Her expression was grim. Tucker lay still.
“Is he okay?” Kendra asked.
“No. I believe this device is defective.” She raised her voice. “Do you hear me? Your device is harming this man. You must disconnect it immediately!”
There was no response.
“Do you think we could get it off?” Kendra asked.
“Not without killing him,” T’Pol said. She rose to her feet and went to pound on the door. “Orions! This man is ill! Your device is damaging him!”
The door slid open.
Before Kendra had time to hope they were actually here to help, the guard pushed T’Pol down to her knees and the female from before stepped up and drove one of the devices into T’Pol’s neck. The Vulcan could not contain an agonized gasp.
The woman managed to look both irritated and bored. “If you continue to bother us, slave, we will teach you that silence is preferable.”
“His device is malfunctioning,” T’Pol gasped.
The Orion frowned and pressed the device she was carrying. T’Pol seized up in pain. Tucker, still out of it, groaned loudly enough that the others looked over at him.
“Look, I’m a doctor,” Kendra said. “And I’m telling you, that thing is damaging his brain. What good will he be to you if he’s brain-damaged?”
“He could still be dinner,” the guard said.
The woman gestured in Kendra’s direction then and he came over for her; she felt her knees go weak as he yanked her over to the Orion woman, who grabbed Kendra’s hair and pulled her head over, baring her neck. Probes were driven straight into sensitive nerves and Kendra couldn’t help but scream.
“Oh, you’ll get used to it,” the Orion woman said. She frowned and sauntered over to Tucker. Kendra watched through a haze of pain as the Orion scanned him and frowned. “Not good, not with the buyer on the way. Bring him.”
The guard shoved Kendra out of the way and walked over to pick up the still-oblivious Tucker.
The two women were left alone again. “This thing hurts like hell,” Kendra hissed.
“Thank you for trying to help him,” T’Pol said.
“I just hope they can,” Kendra said. She hated to think what might happen if they decided Tucker was damaged beyond repair.
T’Pol leaned back against the door. She looked as close to overwhelmed as Kendra had ever seen her. “I wonder who the buyer is.”
Like it? Hate it? Just want to point out a typo? Join the discussion now.
Disclaimer: Star Trek in all its various forms and its characters are the property of CBS/Paramount. No copyright infringement is intended by the authors of this site, which is solely for the purpose of entertainment and is not for profit. This site is owned by CX and was opened to the public in February 2008.