Location : Unknown
The Next Day Year 2156.277
Trip came round and took in his surroundings. He was sat leaning against a wall. His legs bent up in front of him. All he had on were his MACO skivvies, he grabbed the blanket on the floor and wrapped himself in it. The cell was probably three metres square, featureless except for a heavy metal door. The cell was completely empty but for a pan in the corner. He shrugged, he knew what that was for.
He had woken when the intruders entered the room. His MACO training had come into play as he slid the sheets away, smashed the intruder to the left of the bed with his legs and threw him over the bed. He dashed for the door, knowing he mustn’t get trapped. As he went to open it, he was stunned by a burst of fire and slumped to the ground. As he fell, his last thought was they must have had night-sights to be so accurate.
So what did these goons want? Leverage with the Alliance was his immediate thought, but that made no sense. Leverage for what?
He knew he was well prepared for this. His MACO training had included hostage training and the First Level would enable him to stay strong mentally. Then he raised his eyebrows and thought back to one of the key reasons for his coming. The tactical advantage of the Bond. He closed his eyes and began searching.
In the Early Hours
T’Pol threw on her wrap and hit the Comms to M’ret. She knew time was of the essence. The longer they delayed, the harder it would be to find him. Whilst she waited for a response, she returned to her room, found the Beacon, disarmed the Lock and activated it. It glowed amber. Many Light Years away, Yanik would pick up the change of status.
M’ret had responded to her message. Within twenty minutes she was sat in front of the Praetor. She had grabbed her cloak. When she entered, she drew her hood back and offered thanks. “Praetor, it is good of you to see me at this hour.” He sat, calmly holding his hands together, a picture of dignity. “This is not a state-sponsored action. I have cast a cordon in a 150 kilometre radius around the City and we will work in from the perimeter. We will find him.
“The room has been swept for DNA, the surveillance cameras checked and airborne traffic traced. This has all the hallmarks of insiders. There are no DNA traces, surveillance has been neutralised and they would have known an airborne escape would be too easily tracked. So there is nothing. For that reason, I believe he has been taken out of the city, but is not far beyond the limits. I cannot be sure, so we must start on the edge of possibility and work in.” T’Pol responded, “Thank you. Do you have any idea why he was taken?” The Praetor looked down at his hands and off into the far distance of his rooms. “At this stage, I think I am only certain of why he wasn’t taken. To remove him without State authority excludes the possibility of using him in negotiations. Whether I respond to your offer is now not for debate. How we respond to your overtures is quite separate. Tell me, is there anything a Romulan would want from the Companion?”
T’Pol searched her mind. She decided to stall until and if she was able to contact Trip. “I can think of nothing, but if anything does occur to me I will contact M’ret.” The Praetor nodded. T’Pol stood and began to leave. He called her back, “Emissary, if you do need anything or can help our investigation in anyway, contact the Sub Consul. One other matter: you will find I have arranged for extra security to protect you.” She turned back and looked at him, “Thank you, I will.”
T’Pol spoke with her Guides and asked not to be disturbed whilst she meditated. She closed the blinds, prepared herself and lit the meditation candle.
She found the place of peace in her mind: the place of clarity, of purity, of oneness. Is that you? : It is, I : Are you safe? : I am. Can you show me where you are? Trip thought about the room. I see it. Close your eyes, as if sleeping. Trip closed his eyes. T’Pol took herself to the Second Level and shared her inner strength, her inner energy. What mankind called their Chakras. She offered her very aura to him. Trip felt a well-spring of energy emanate from their joined mind and pass into his body. But it did not stop there.
Breath in what I have offered you. Hold it in and breath out the fears and doubts. With T’Pol’s help, Trip pursued the ritual for minutes on end, breathing in her energy and breathing out all that weighed him down. His body responded.
After ten minutes she shared again. This is not the work of the State. Can you think of any reason why someone would wish to kidnap you? : No. My only involvement with Romulans was the Drone Incident. T’Pol thought back to the Drones, remotely piloted by a long dead Andorian, who made no contact with Trip.
Until his capturers spoke to Trip they would not gain any more insight into the reason behind the kidnapping. To begin with, they will try to break you; little food, little sleep. I will help you keep strong, but do not let them see your resolve. I will find you. You are close. I will come to you soon. Be strong.
So this was just about him. Thank God T’Pol was unharmed. He started to rack his brains as to why him and what they might want and who they might be? Was it connected to the Drone Incident in some way? If it was revenge, then why keep him alive. He knew he was going to have to wait for the answer, only once they thought they had weakened him would they speak with him.
The Praetor had come round to the front of his console and sat in front of it. When M’ret entered, the Praetor beckoned him to a seat opposite him. This was going to be a meeting of equals.
“This is an informal discussion; there will be no recording.” M’ret nodded. “Life is full of surprises. Yesterday, we were wrong footed by a genuine attempt to seek peace. Today, someone within the Establishment has complicated matters. I know that you are loyal to the State but prefer peaceful expansion.” M’ret went to reply but the Praetor put his hand up, waving away the need for explanation or a defence. “I am sure this abduction has been carried out by those who take the opposite view, to ensure we maintain the status quo.” M’ret relaxed again and nodded.
“There is another possibility: it maybe an attempt to discredit me.” M’ret: “That has occurred to me. If they can prove the Companion has hostile intent, it would make your response to the Alliance’s overtures look naive.” Praetor Atare clasped his hands together and looked down for a moment and then looked straight at M’ret. “You know the lengths they will go to extract a confession that suits them. Eventually they will record such a confession and he will die. It is imperative, for my sake,” hesitating, “… and his, that he is found alive. That is why I have appointed you to lead the search.” M’ret nodded, “I will ensure all involved are completely committed to the search and if not… deal with it.”
Part II – Day 5
He woke on Day 5. He knew it was Day 5 because his Bond Mate had told him it was Day 4 the last time they had bonded. He was in total darkness, but knew it would not last long enough for sleep. Every hour, the room was brilliantly lit and every hour it was thrown into total darkness. Whilst it was dark, freezing cold water would be smashed against his body. On Day 2, he had embarked on a rigorous training regime only to find the floor was live and his feet were electrocuted until he stopped.
Several times a day, a mug of water and a bowl of sludge would appear in the door ledge. His training told him he was getting just enough food to keep him alive, but he was weakening every day. His breath was foul, his body rank from not being washed for days and he had the constant smell of his mess in the Cell Pan. They were reducing him to something less than human.
Without warning, the door swung open and the natural level of lighting came on. He was desperately stiff from five days of inactivity but he managed to ease himself up the wall and stand up. The blisters on his feet from the electrocution made standing excruciating but somehow he shuffled towards the door. After his attempt at exercise, someone had come in when he was lying comatose and placed manacles on his feet and hands. He carried on shuffling towards the door. All was quiet. Nothing happened and so he peered out.
The corridor to the right was lit. To the left, darkness. He was a hamster, guided towards a certain outcome. He shuffled down the corridor. As he began to focus, he realised his artificial lenses had come out during one of the attacks with water unless ‘they’ had removed them. Everything was slightly blurred. Finally, he reached a door on the left that was open. “Enter.” Something made him start, he had heard the voice before.
He shuffled forward and suddenly spotlights ignited, blinding him. He covered his eyes and saw the shadow of a chair in front of him. “Sit down.” He did. The lights were killed. Someone, maybe two people, grabbed him, took his hands and removed the manacles. He fell back in the chair and the lights ignited again. This time, bearable.
He noticed, down to his left, a table with a mug of water and some food, fresh food. “Eat it.” He grabbed the plate and ate like a rabid wild animal. “Better?” “Yes.”
“So let’s get down to business, Mr Tucker.” He recognised the voice: he had heard it on the Drone. “I’m listenin’.” “I am not going to insult you, you know how these things work, you are going to die. It will either be painless or infinitely worse. Either way, you will do as I wish.” “And that is…what?”
“To confess. To confess that you are a Commander on board the Starship Enterprise, that you have been sent here to evaluate us, that you are a spy.” “Well, on our world there are conventions. As a prisoner of war, I am only obliged to tell you my name, rank and serial number. I am very happy to do that.” “Proceed.” Valdore knew it wasn’t going to be that easy.
“My name is Charles Tucker. Actually, it’s Charles Tucker The 3rd. I left Star Fleet 18 months ago and I have neither a rank or a number. I am a novice with the Order of Surak and engaged in seeking peace.”
Valdore clapped. “Very funny, Commander.” Suddenly, the room was plunged into darkness and his feet and ankles were manacled to the chair.
“Right. Shall we start again?” “My name is Charles Tucker 3rd and I am here on a mission of peace as a novice attached to the Order of Surak.”
“So you want to play it the hard way? How tedious.” Admiral Valdore initiated the programme at Level Two. Trip became aware of some kind of grip being attached to each of his thighs. Then it came. Excruciating pain as electrical current passed between the two connections. His muscles spasmed violently, carried from one grip to another and from one thigh to another. He groaned and his back arched forward and his knees thumped up. As it affected his genitals, he screamed uncontrollably and passed out. Valdore switched off the machine and barked an order. “Keep him alive! I will be back tomorrow.”
After the first day, M’ret had provided T’pol with a programme which provided access to a topographical analysis of the area of search and its progress. By Day 5, the Cordon had been reduced to 100 kilometres from the City core. They had found no signs of Trip or his captors. M’ret had gone beyond his brief and personally looked at all the surveillance footage in the City two hours either side of the likely time of the abduction. Nothing.
T’Pol was waiting for her daily update from M’ret, puzzling over whether something had been missed. The entry chime sounded. “Come.” She could tell immediately that there was no news. Or, perhaps there was bad news.
He shook his head, “I am sorry, T’Pol.” T’Pol had encouraged him to use her personal name several days ago. “May I make a suggestion?” M’ret acknowledged her, “Please.” T’Pol walked around the room as she spoke. “Given the canal bounds the entire inner city, they could have used only one of three routes across the Canal to get out?” “Correct.” “And you have looked at the footage for two hours either side of the likely time and found no irregularities?” “That is right. We have investigated all of the movement during that period and interviewed all on those routes at that time. Nothing.”
T’Pol collected her thoughts. “Could a crossing have been made on or in the waters of the Canal?” M’ret: “Romulans have never made use of water. Our capacity for flight came quickly and we had no interest in water, even as a form of recreation.” Given T’Pol’s research into their origins, that did not surprise her. He carried on.”However, the city has been built over many times, it is possible there are tunnel systems – caverns – that we are unaware of.” “Would you have archives which might help us?” He nodded. “I will see what I can find out.” “Thank you.” M’ret left. At least T’Pol knew he was sincere. If he had been playing her it would make things infinitely more difficult.
T’Pol entered the Space. She called to his aura. He was dreaming. She strengthened and clarified his dream and took him to a place he was trying to escape to, away from the misery, the squalor and the unbearable pain.
“Come in, Trip. I am so pleased you made it.” Hoshi slid the entrance of her Minka back and invited him in. He left his boots in the Genkan and followed Hoshi through to the Terrace. “Green tea?” “That would be just fine.” “So how have you been? You’re certainly looking good!” “And so are you, so are you. Talking of looking good, that’s a great view of Mount Fuji.”
T’Pol knew that Trip was sub-consciously desperately trying to hold on to his self image as a vibrant, attractive man. She knew Hoshi was attracted to Trip and she was trying to use that for him. She also knew why she had not placed herself in the dream.
Trip gravitated to the front of the Terrace, transfixed by the mountain view. Hoshi came up on the side of him and took his right cheek in her left hand, gently guiding his face round to face hers. He moved down to reach her face, as Hoshi slipped her hands round his neck. As she pulled him down towards her, she picked up his scent and his sweet cool breath. Their lips found each other. He swept her up and walked inside, laid her on the tatami mat and pulled her dress up. As she reached for his shirt they were frantic…
But he could not hold on to the dream, it dissolved. Trip’s gaze returned to the mirror. He was hung over to one side, filthy and his eyes were red raw and half closed. He couldn’t push the nightmare away.
Trip, let me in. Let me give you my strength.
They have started the second phase. They want a confession from me. They know who I am. He is in the Military. He knows me from the Drone. I am just old fashioned propaganda fodder. The minute I confess, I am dead meat.
Stay with me, Trip. Whatever you think you’ve lost, you will get it back. Please, take my aura.
I am in so much pain from the torture, I, I can’t think straight.
Trip, I am going to take your pain.
T’Pol knew that if she was with Trip she could Meld and access his emotions and take the pain from him. For now, she had to rely on the Bond to reach him. Would a Meld inside the Bond work? She must try. They were together. She knelt down in front of him, reached up to his red-eyed sunken face, placed her index finger above his cheek, the thumb on his chin with its disheveled, dirty, beard growth and the third finger on the side of his bearded face.
“My Mind To Your Mind”
No T’Pol, you must not do this.
“Our Minds Are One”
No, T’Pol. Please, no.
“Your Thoughts to My Thoughts”
Oh God, T’Pol, please stop.
“Our Thoughts Are One”
And then it came. T’Pol took every single appalling element of the dreadful experience… and she collapsed. But it had worked. Trip would survive a little longer.
It was Day 8. Trip knew it was Day 8 because T’Pol had taken his pain three times. They had come in, released him so he could relieve himself and then put him back in the harness. Each day, they moved the grips higher up his thighs. T’Pol sharing his pain was an anaesthetic but to his capturers, he presented as if he was almost spent. Maybe he was. If it wasn’t for her, he would be dead already just from the shock.
He knew that after five days, if the subject hadn’t capitulated then the torturer would move to the final phase. There were two more days and then the final descent into abuse, neglect and degradation.
Nothing could have prepared her for the onslaught she had received. She had wept, she had howled, she had screamed. Each night she took the pain, hour after hour, and each night somehow she recovered and found her way to the place of calm, of peace of strength.
Now she was rested and anxious to see M’ret. Today, the Sub Consul was late. Just when every moment was precious, she could do with out this. She took her tea and walked onto the Terrace.
The Female Guide came to her. “Madam Emissary, would you like to take a walk, rather than wait? I sense your agitation.” T’Pol looked up at her puzzled, she had never suggested such a thing before. “I think it might be good to breath the sea air.” She nodded. “You may be right.” She went to find her cloak and personal communicator so that she could be recalled.
“May I lead the way?” T’Pol followed. Some instinct told her more was happening here than a mere walk. Her Guide and helper of recent days dropped down three floors and walked toward the Northern Entrance. T’Pol had never taken this route to the outer parapet before. To their left was a series of small buildings, each one offering produce for those who lived in the Citadel. For those who would leave the Citadel, it was the perfect place to collect provisions. Once they reached the outer parameter, the Guide climbed the stairs inside the outer wall to the top. At the top, the Guide pointed out the Observatory to the right. “Before you leave, may I suggest you visit the Observatory and look back at the stars you came from.. where your home lies.” Was the Observatory significant? Possibly not, but the reference to home: what was that about? And then an idea grew in her mind. The maid mentioning leaving, of home: was this about escape? T’Pol was intrigued. Instead of encouraging her to move on, the maid simply stood there taking in all around her. T’Pol took the cue from her and began doing the same.
T’Pol, what seemed a life time ago, had flown in across this area over the canal and taken a right turn over the park. “Tell me, Guide, is that a park opposite?” She smiled at T’Pol, “Madame Emissary, it is not a park; it is a Place of the Dead. It is the resting place of our Praetors, although some other important families’ remains lie there too.
“You will notice a break in the Outer Wall.” T’Pol nodded, “Yes.” “And beyond, trees and a smaller monument with a tiered circular roof, there lie…” and the Guide turned to look at her, “the remains of our last Praetor.”
T’Pol took out her viewer and ranged across the Canal, the gap in the Outer Wall, the trees beyond and the Late Praetor’s Mausoleum. It was completely deserted, there was no sign of life. She adjusted the viewer’s magnification and looked at the river bank, below the area where the Place of the Dead was open to the river. Suddenly, something caught her eye. There were a series of U-shaped metal steps up the side of the river bank. They looked ancient, as if they had been used in the past by people who crossed the river and climbed up the bank.
If you wanted to leave the city in the dead of night in secret, this was the place to cross the river, climb up the bank….and dash to that Mausoleum.
T’Pol was deep in thought when she received a message from M’ret. He was ready to see her. “Sub Consul M’ret is awaiting me. We must return. This has all been … of great interest.” The Guide bowed, “You may wish to continue to explore more later?” T’Pol looked at the maid, “Indeed.” She was now almost certain Trip had been taken across the river in the dead of night and was out in that park.
M’ret was waiting for her on her return. “We have found the plans of the Old City. There is no underground system of caves. The original City was raised to the ground, the Core and the Outer Parameter built over it. The City was completed before the waters were released to fill the canal.” T’Pol realised that unwittingly she had been provided with another answer or maybe M’ret was part of this. He was telling her the truth of what happened in an oblique way. The steps belonged to the current era. A plan began to formulate in her mind.
“M’ret, how much notice will the Senate need for an address?” “They have remained behind, awaiting developments. We can convene the Senate with a day’s notice.” T’Pol was in danger of showing she was pre-occupied and feigned interest. “Forgive me, how has the search progressed.” M’ret reported, “As the diameter of the search area decreases, we are able to move much deeper into the area. By the end of tomorrow, we will be ten kilometres from the city and by midday on the tenth day, we will have completed the search.” T’Pol listened, anxious to be left alone. “I am grateful, M’ret. Let us hope we are now finally close to finding Companion.” He nodded and left.
She entered her quarters and closed the shutters. It was late afternoon. How would he be?
I am here for you : Oh God, T’Pol. I am nearly spent. I need to be out of here.
She could feel the tears rolling down his face..
I cannot take much……
and he was gone.
She knew he was still alive, but something had happened to break his concentration. She would have known if he had died, but it was clear she must act tomorrow. She contacted M’ret and asked for an audience with the Senate at 0900 and to let the Praetor know that she would leave alone, afterwards. She walked out into the corridor and asked the security Guard if he had seen the Guides.”It is not urgent. Otherwise I would have called them but when they pass, send them in.”
Part III Day 9
T’Pol knew that her Bond mate was still alive. Today she had to free him. She knew he would not survive the day: his aura was very weak… The Guides had packed their belongings so she was ready to leave. The first part of her plan had been completed. She had spoken to her Guard and, on a pretext, asked him to resolve a matter in her quarters. Once inside, she administered The Grip from behind. It rendered him unconscious. She took his weapon and dragged him out of sight. She now had the means to challenge Trip’s captors.
Senate Room. 0900
T’Pol walked into the Senate without any ceremony and stood before them dressed in the robes of the Order of Surak.
“Senators, firstly I must thank you and your many personnel across the Region, who have worked tirelessly to find the Companion, although sadly to no avail.
“There is a Vulcan maxim I am reminded of today, that ‘The Needs of the Many Outweigh the Needs of the Few or the One’. It is with regret that today I will leave without the Companion, but he is one and the lives and destinies of millions are at stake. We must reach out and consider them before all else. We must not delay any longer. I wish, therefore, to offer my final thoughts and will leave you to consider your response.” She looked at the Praetor, who made no sign of acknowledgement. “I know he would want me to pursue this course.”
T’Pol looked around the room. Which of these Senators had been wrong footed by this Gambit? “We have offered you a vision of mutual acceptance, allowing all our energies to be focused on our own, quite separate, goals rather than on a war which will cost millions of lives and the loss of so much that we both hold as valuable and important.
“I am Vulcan and you are Romulan. Our two worlds are set on a course that will lead to War. Yet for us, it is merely a point of philosophy, not race.” Several of the Senators muttered: this was tantamount to blasphemy.
T’Pol took out her holographic Imaging Pad and began throwing images into the centre of the Senate Room and revolving them for all to see. “If you doubt my assertion, consider this. Nineteen Centuries ago in the midst of war, we found peace through the teachings of Surak. And yet war continued, until a part of our people marched out into the desert. But that was merely a staging post to find a new homeworld. This world!” The images of the records, the depopulation, the camp in The Forge, the images of the Vahklas and the myths of their beginnings all emerged as she spoke.
“So know this: if you wage a deadly war on Vulcan, you are waging war on yourselves. Nothing could be more certain. As we say on Vulcan: it is important to know all the facts. You now have them!”
There was a deathly silence. Suddenly, a sound punctured the silence: the sound of a single set of footsteps, which emerged to her left. They reached the edge of the floor and stopped remaining in the shadows. The figure began to clap slowly and ironically, “Very Good, Little One.” T’Pol was bemused. She looked in the direction of the voice. Finally, he stepped out. He was tall, imposing and wore a Romulan military uniform with great dignity and not a little vanity, as displayed in the exaggerated padded shoulders.
“If I may, Praetor?” The Praetor nodded agreement.”Senators, I am Tolsek of the Tal-shiar. I have worked undercover on Vulcan, integrating myself into Vulcan life for our cause, for many decades and uncovered many of its ways, its secrets. I would also offer some facts for us to consider before making a judgement. This wayward maverick Vulcan before you, proposing Unification between Romulus and Vulcan is nothing more than a confused half-breed.” T’Pol looked at him, a ferocious look in her eyes, holding his gaze waiting for more.
He met her gaze, contempt in his eyes. “I would know. I am her Father.”
T’Pol reached into her robes and triggered the Beacon a second time.