"These Are the Voyages?"
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Summary: Leaving the events of the finale as they were, this story seeks to deal with T’Pol’s response.
“You can go straight to Hell!” Implausible as its sounds, these were the last works of Charles Tucker III to three alien outlaws before purposefully connecting two incompatible relay cables and blowing up everyone in the room—according to a new drama to be released on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the launch of Enterprise.
Though less real to her than her own memories of Trip and that day, the new holoplay came close enough to the truth to be eerie.
T’Pol remembered the burns, the aftermath, but had never allowed herself to consider the “incident” itself. Now she was forced to. Her opinion was requested on the historical accuracy of the new fictional account of the Enterprise’s last fateful mission. She raised her chin and steadied her nerves. She’d do it for Trip—and posterity.
Trip’s lungs had been thermalized by the explosion. When he came to, it was hard for him to speak. By the time she caught up with everyone in sick bay, Trip was dead. The captain had pieced together what happened from the evidence. No one really knew what Trip had said to set a trap. He had been alone with his richly deserving victims.
Tip had died a hero; that much was clear. But how and why would remain a mystery.
Her earliest memories of Trip were at those movie nights on Enterprise. She’d come because of his prodding. Some pre-World War III hero or villain would be on the screen about to obliterate his enemy, when, for no good reason, he’d stop to explain himself—giving his rival’s accomplice a chance to appear out of nowhere with a weapon. It never made much sense, as T’Pol was always quick to point out. Trip would sigh, “Yeah, so what?” If she persisted, he’d concede with a lopsided grin.
So, Trip knew better. He was too smart to have warned his victims of their impending doom—as much as he might be tempted.
“You can go straight to Hell!” Illogical, unlikely, yet . . . He’d suppressed his darkest emotions like a Vulcan. For Trip it was always about Elizabeth—first the one, then the other. Perhaps, those feelings just rushed to the surface in a moment of high stress. He was certainly thinking of Shran’s daughter as he died—maybe he thought of his own. He wanted vengeance for unforgivable injustice. The line was, in any case . . . appropriate.
Where did they get the holophotos to make this thing? They must have come from the crew’s personnel files at Starfleet. If so, the files hadn’t been regularly updated. Everyone looked a least half a decade too young. Trip’s character looked good—too good. Like a MACO straight out of boot camp. If truth be told, he eventually lost that trim, sharp profile. He never lost that swagger.
Conveniently, the holodrama had T’Pol saying good-bye to Trip the day before his death. That would have been satisfying. Instead she treasured this memory: She and Trip—not baby-faced Trip; that older, weathered Trip--had been recalibrating the plasma array when they both realized this would be their last recalibration ever--on Enterprise or anywhere else. “Hand me that inducer,” Trip had said, turning towards her with a sudden startled look. She met and held his gaze, without moving for the inducer. An acknowledgement—of sorts. After a moment, which is still frozen and fresh after fifteen years, he took her gently by the shoulder and reached for the instrument himself. And that was it.
In the holodrama, they had promised to never lose touch. In real life they had also made such a pledge, not as the holodrama placed it, the day before Trip’s death, but years before, at their final “breakup.” So a final goodbye was less necessary than the drama implied. As they prepared to leave Enterprise they were still bound by history and unfinished business.
They had united around their desire to have a (second) child. Her mind drifted back to the short period they had been together. A time when they communicated, not with looks, but with actual words—and lots of them. After all, there was a lot to negotiate—beginning with the compromise between Human and Vulcan expectations of sex and its frequency.
Their “romance” been blown all out of proportion. The tragic death of their cloned and kidnapped baby had thrown them into the public spotlight. People came to think of their relationship as a test of the possibility of interspecies union—as some kind of lesson for all time. I wasn’t like that. Their bond had fallen apart over technicalities—not eternal truths.
Only Phlox knew all they had been through. His confidential assessment of their genetic compatibility changed monthly, sometimes weekly, as he continued to research the issue. Yes they were compatible, if the cloning process was just right. No, a new incompatibility had come to light, but he’d find a work around. Yes, it’s almost time to go ahead. Maybe it would be best to wait.
Their hopes soared and crashed repeatedly. Trip felt it all, his emotions unmodulated by Vulcan discipline. Then, when it was too much, he resorted to typical human male detachment. “It’s not like you were ever pregnant,” he had said to her, the last time she came to break the news of another setback. He was ready to concede defeat, but T’Pol was not. If only a technological breakthrough had come sooner, they might still be together.
Thankfully the public didn’t seem to know, or care, about the “affair.” (That’s how Trip had labeled it.) It was common knowledge that they moved on to new relationships—relationships not acknowledged in the holodrama. For instance T’Pol had made it through her subsequent pon far with no “help” from Trip—the details remain a blur. Trip became intimate with a human female associate while on leave in San Francisco. Trip had been the first to break their pact. He apologized, then became moody and irritable. (He wasn’t perfect, whatever the holodrama would have the fans believe) When she suggested they just forget what had happened, he had shouted at her: “We’re not Denobulans.” It was over. And after all his tears, part of her was relieved to be rid of him.
While, part of her would have held on forever.
There was one glaring flaw in the holodrama. Though it would be too awkward to ask them to fix it. They showed her character sniffing Trip’s empty uniform after the accident, then folding it slowly and placing it in a suitcase. Only a Vulcan would catch the mistake. Humans forget their odor is strong and unpleasant. T'Pol would not purposely sniff a clean uniform hoping to smell her friend one last time. On the other hand, the scene is touching. Maybe the character just wants to rub her face on the fabric, to cling to some scrap of DNA.
That would be historically accurate.
Because, even as Trip’s body lay in sickbay, she had still wanted that baby—she pictured a Vulcan five-year old with a ski jump nose. A child that could continue their journey into the future.
And yes, Trip really had squandered his last breaths reminding Archer to please finish his speech. Why not? They’d told him he’d be O.K. He’d played like he’d be O.K.
T’Pol knew because she had questioned Archer at length, selfishly hoping to glean some scrap or word meant for her—permission to go ahead with a plan made years ago.
But Trip hadn’t been preparing for death. “He w-winked at me as we closed him inside the hyperbolic chamber” Archer reported that night, as he paced in circles in her room.
When they had separated, Trip had surprised her by suggesting they should still have that baby, if and when the techniques ever materialized. “We can’t raise a kid here on this ship, but I’ll bet my folks would help out, if we asked them.” It was a half-baked idea, but it was generous, and she wasn’t in a position to argue.
Yes, as the holodrama implies, Archer did stay up that whole night after Trip died, writing his speech for the conference.
Archer was a mess. So T’Pol suggested he recycle earlier speeches given to smaller audiences. No one would remember. So that’s what they did. Archer had hit the notes that always resonate: Not alone. Exploration. The final frontier. What binds us together.
As for “costs” and “sacrifice,” they would be mentioned in passing; but this speech was not about Trip.
Trip’s day came two days later. The writers of the holodrama must have had spies at the funeral (or records of it) because a lot of the dialogue about Trip seems to have been lifted from the eulogies.
When it was her turn she had said, “Other people have said Trip had a difficult accent. It’s not true. I always understood him. Trip invited me to spend time with humans and helped me learn to respect to human emotion. I believe however long I live, I will miss him.”
That evening after the funeral, Phlox approached her and said, “I just realized I have a message for you, from Trip.”
“But . . .?” T’Pol protested, confused. She gathered her thoughts and started again. “Trip said something to you before he went in the chamber?”
“No, no.” Phlox gave a nervous laugh, “Not at all. He left a will. It’s back at sick bay”
When the screen popped on, there was Trip. In the video recording, he is half sitting on a countertop in sick bay, not looking in the camera and laughing with someone out of view. Soon he turns towards his audience. “O.K.,” he starts, “This is really embarrassing, but O.K. Seems Phlox, here, is worried I’m gonna die.” (As if that were the craziest thing in the world) “I don’t expect that will happen, but if it does, here’s the—ah—genetic material.” He holds a canister up and waggles it back and forth. “If some other girlfriend wants some—well, T’Pol, you’re first in line. Seriously, I know you’ll do the right thing.” The recorded Trip looks straight at her only briefly, before he jumps off the counter to the ground. “I’m outta here,” he announces to the person off camera.
When the screen popped off, T’Pol turned, stunned, to Phlox, who looked quite pleased with himself. For the second time in her life, she wanted to throw her arms around someone and plant a kiss. On this second occasion, she chose the safer course, “Thank you, doctor, for everything.”
Phlox just shrugged, explaining, “I just wanted to ensure my research wouldn’t go to waste. After all this work, I feel like it’s my baby too.”
T’Pol’s thoughts returned to the present, where she found herself sitting at a desk holding a holovisor in two hands. The computer in front of her beckoned. She was ready give an answer on the merits of the holoplay.
She touched a quick-link address. A kitchen appeared on the screen, an old lady soon appeared, Trip’s mom.
“Oh it's you, child!” The woman gushed on seeing T’Pol, “I been meaning to call you. Been feeling so blue lately. Sure is good seeing your face.”
“I viewed the holodrama.” T’Pol stated.
“Yeah, what’d you think?”
“It’s . . . unsettling.”
“That it is, child. I had to put it aside. Seeing what happened, I can’t help but blame myself. Charles took too many chances with his life. Little Charlie used to idolize them test pilots! I should have smacked him upside the head the first time he took his soupped-up bike and ran it off a ramp.”
“That probably wouldn’t have been effective,” T’Pol answered, trying to imagine a different version of Trip--one who didn’t live to break the next warp speed record. After a moment she added, “I think the holodrama is a competent historical reconstruction of the events. Future generations will have a fairly good picture of Charles and his sacrifice. It will be real for them.”
“I want to show it to little Chucky when he’s older.” The older woman said softly.
“But not yet.” T’Pol cautioned. “You say, he still doesn’t know he’s . . . special?”
“He still don’t know he’s mixed. You better believe he knows he’s special.”
“Ms. Tucker, I will never be able to properly express my appreciation . . .”
“Oh, it ain’t nothing. The boy’s a handful, but he keeps me going. Y’all live long and prosper!”
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