Title: Fear
Spoilers: minor Minefield and Shuttlepod One spoilers
Disclaimer:  I don’t own them.  I didn’t invent them.  I’m a starving university student so it wouldn’t even be worth your while to sue (so please don’t).   They all belong to the almighty Paramount.
Feedback: Yes Please!  julia_ocean_child@yahoo.co.uk
A/N:  This is my second fic ever and is the product of lengthly quantum mechanics lectures (as interesting as they are, wave functions can't quite compete with trek).  This was originally a story on fanfiction.net comprised of 5 chapters.  For this archive they have been compiled into one page but are individually titled.  I don't have a beta and I must confess that I haven't given it a proper edit so all errors are my own.

Okay, it’s complicated this time:
italics = thoughts
// = memories


    It is truly amazing just how many thoughts the mind can process in a short amount of time.  Malcolm had always believed that this skill was largely responsible for making him such a good armoury officer.  There was no doubting the fact that his mind was quick.  Normally it would be used for what Malcolm referred to as the arithmetic of blowing things up.  Survey the scene and determine the number of hostiles.  Assign a number that is a rating of their individual level of firepower (hand-to-hand being 1, phase pistols 10 and phase cannons in the range of 100,000).  Multiply the number of hostiles with the same weapons rating by their weapons rating then add the products from the various weapons ratings to get the total hostile combat number Hn (subtract some points if they appear cowardly, but not too many, overconfidence is a weakness).  Repeat the mathematics on yourself to determine the total defensive combat number Dn.  Divide to determine the battle odds ratio (Dn/Hn) and hope it’s greater than 1.  Use the battle odds ratio to determine a course of action (ranging from “Run away! Run away! And hope they didn’t see us to bloody well wipe the floor with them).  At this moment Malcolm’s adrenaline fueled mind was taking a tangent at warp five and there was nothing he could do about it.

     It had started as a simple stroll on an uninhabited Minshara Class planet.  While the biologists were taking soil samples Trip (followed by Malcolm) had sauntered away from the group in the direction of the planet’s ocean.  Trip had walked along the beach until he reached the cliffs that surrounded the bay.   Malcolm had expected him to return when he reached the cliffs and had been surprised when Trip continued to walk away from the landing party.  Malcolm bit down a remark about errant commanders and followed some distance behind.  As Malcolm reached the cliffs he found that there was an upwards sloping ledge in the cliff face that Trip was walking along.  It was at least two meters wide and the solid rock seemed sta ble enough so Malcolm continued to follow.  The path gradually led him upwards until he was about 10 meters above sea level.  It was a clear day and calm except for the small wavelets that were lapping at the cliff face.  Frankly, Malcolm didn’t care to look over the edge and would prefer Trip come down so he could get away from all that water.  He shivered involuntarily and kept his eyes firmly rooted on the rock.  He heard Trip’s footfalls stop and looked up to see Trip standing at the edge of the ledge looking out at the water.  He risked a glance around and found them to be about a third of the way up the 30 odd meter high cliff.  Looking up he noticed a small overhang a couple of meters above the spot where Trip was standing.  He frowned as he took in the fact that it was a rather crumbling overhang, the debris on the surrounding ledge a testament to that fact.  He didn’t need another glance to decide that it was time to leave.  As he went to call to his friend Murphy’s law asserted itself and a portion of the overhang crumbled as a stone began to fall.  The stone fell straight down, colliding with Trips head and making what, in another situation, would be a rather comical thwocking sound.  Trip crumpled under the blow and pitched head first over the edge.  Malcolm was running even before he heard the splash.  He drew up just short of where Trip had been standing and peered over the edge.  The sight of a figure in regulation Starfleet blue surfacing face down constricted his insides and threw his brain into overdrive.

    Now he teetered on the brink of his greatest fear and realized that for the first time in his adult life, he, Malcolm Reed, was terrified.  Malcolm knew that a fear of drowning was not included in the model armoury officer.  He’d reached the point he was at today by being very, very good at everything else he did.  As far as the Starfleet brass were concerned his aquaphobia wasn’t a problem.  Although Cadet Reed had received particular ly low marks he’d survived his water survival training and that was what mattered.  The low marks were a result of the fact that Malcolm’s swimming abilities consisted of the one stroke that is essentially what a non-swimmer does in water in order to avoid drowning.  With his other high marks he’d carried on fine and water hadn’t really come up again.  Starfleet was more concerned with his ordinance training than the technique of his butterfly, a fact for which he was eternally grateful.

    His father had initially accused him of cowardice when he declared he was going to join Starfleet.  “Reeds aren’t afraid of anything , and they face their fears like a man.  Face your fears boy” had been his father’s rather contradictory advice.  This was followed by tales of the glory of the Navy, the family line and the heroics of his great uncle.  Malcolm had been groomed for the Royal Navy since he was a child.  His toys had been model boats or submarines and his bedtime stories had been tales of sea battles filled with valiant navy men.  When he grew up he found to his complete surprise that he was thoroughly bored with it all.  He supposed that had he still been interested he might have suppressed his fears and sailed away.  But quite frankly, why sail the seas when you could fly am ong the stars (not to mention the fact that there would be much more to blow up in space).  This was an opinion that his father hadn’t been able to understand.  The only possible reason he could fathom for Malcolm’s career choice stemmed from the fact that his son must be a coward, and cowardice was something that Stuart Reed didn’t “hold with.”  His father had accused him of running away so that he’d never have to face his fears.  Malcolm remembered his father’s angry voice fading as he walked out the front door to a waiting taxi.  “Just you wait lad,  you can’t hide forever.  It’ll get you eventually.”

     Just like it got his great uncle, the man who faced his fears.  Malcolm remembered talking about his great uncle while pinned to Enterprise’s hull.  He’d been surprised that the Captain hadn’t known about the aquaphobia.  It seemed like just the type of thing that the Starfleet shrinks would plaster all over his file in bright red lettering.  The captain had talked to him as if he were Malcolm’s friend.  His mind flashed back to being in the shuttlepod with Commander Tucker.  He remembered holding a phase pistol and calling the commander his friend.  He vaguely remembered asking the sleeping man if he could call him Trip.  Trip, oh god Trip.  Malcolm knew what he had to do.  There was really only one course of action.

    He jumped.  As he fell he could swear he heard his father laughing at him.



Water, Water, Everywhere...

    Malcolm pushed off awkwardly and felt his heart leap into his throat as the vast expanse of water seemed to open up underneath him.

“Bugger, bugger, bugger....”

     Malcolm fell, arms flailing wildly as he tried to stay vertical.  He knew his first time jumping into water could be his last if he belly flopped from that height.  He was a bad enough swimmer when he wasn’t winded and experiencing crippling abdominal pain.  He managed to fight his constricted chest long enough to catch a quick breath just before he entered the water.


     Stinging hot pain flashed thr ough his hands and he somewhat belatedly realized that he probably should have tucked them in.  He’d closed his eyes tightly just before he hit and when he opened them it was like every childhood nightmare had come back to haunt him at the same time.  Water.  Water everywhere.  But this was worse than any nightmare.  This time his hands stung, his ears felt like someone was stabbing a fork in them and his nose burned.  This time it was far too real.

     Malcolm looked down and saw that the light green colour faded to a dark brown with depth.  He looked straight ahead and was confronted by a similar although slightly brighter sight .  Water stretched as far as he could see.  He panicked and started to thrash, trying to do something, anything, to get away from the water.  His chest started to burn and he thrashed more violently, trying to fight the water.  His random motions had set him rotating underwater and as he opened his eyes again he found himself looking at something he’d never seen before.  It looked like a wall or a sheet, but it was where the light was coming from.

“The surface”

     Malcolm started to kick again, but this time he had a goal in mind.  His chest was burning and his brain was screaming at him to breathe.  He clamped his mouth tightly shut and kicked hard.  Dark spots were dancing in front of his eyes, he started to exhale, the bubbles running over his face.  With a whoosh Malcolm broke the surface and took a gasping breath.  He forgot to kick and went under again.  Another kick and he was again on the surface, spluttering and coughing.  He could see Trip floating nearby and set off in something akin to the dog paddle.  For the first time in his life he was thankful for the Starfleet water survival training.  Some of that horrible time in the pool had been spent trying to swim with one limb immobilized or weighted down.  Now he snagged Trip’s collar with one hand and paddled towards a sea level ledge in the cliff with his free arm.  When he reached the ledge he pushed Trip’s upper body ashore before propelling himself out of the water as quickly as possible.  He rolled Trip onto his side and tried to clear the airway.  A dribble of water emerged from Trip’s mouth but he didn’t breathe.  Malcolm rolled his friend onto his back and began mouth to mouth.  It was two breaths before Trip made a choking sound and began to breathe for himself.  Shaking with relief Malcolm rolled Trip into the recovery position and sat back against the cliff face to gather his thoughts.  His heart was pounding and he found he had to close his eyes to escape to oppressive presence of the water.

“Oh god.
Oh my god!
I can’t believe it.  I bloody well did  it, I swam!  I conquered my fears.  Not a true Reed my arse, take that you old goat.”

     Malcolm grinned and opened his eyes.  Water.  He quickly closed them again.

“Maybe an amendment of that last thought is in order.”

     Although he felt tired to his very bones he forced himself to crawl over and check on Trip.  The commander was breathing by himself, albeit a bit shallowly.  Malcolm gently felt Trip’s head and found a small cut on a rapidly increasing lump on the back of his head.

"Trip’s head is going to hurt worse than it did after we were shot on Risa.”

     He felt for his communicator and bit back a curse when he found it missing.

“Must have gotten knocked off my belt when I hit the water.”

     Malcolm reached over and was relieved to find Trip’s communicator still in his pocket.  He took the device and went to hail the away team.  Nothing.  He held it in front of himself and scrutinized it.  Water slowly dripped out of the seam in the side.

“Bloody hell.”

     He shuffled back to lean against the cliff face and closed his eyes.  His uniform was cold and clung to his skin uncomfortably.  He realized he was thirsty.  An excerpt of a poem he had read back in boarding school flashed into his head.

“Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.”

     He knew it was Coleridge but he couldn’t quite remember what work it was from.

“Not Kubla Khan. No, certainly not Kubla Khan.  What else did he write?”  I
know I know this.”

    He remembered having to write an exam.  That damned quote had been there in a question.  Inspiration hit.

“-Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”

     The irony made him chuckle.

“Here’s looking at you Dad.”


Water Rising

    Malcolm closed his eyes and slumped against the cliff.  His jumbled emotions and confused thoughts whirred through his head.  He took a deep breath and tried to put them into some semblance of order.  He was mostly relieved that Trip was alive, proud of himself for swimming while ashamed that he had panicked in the wa ter.  He frowned at that last bit, a model officer never panics.

    A mumbled "son'uva bitch" tore him from his reverie. Malcolm clambered over to where Trip was stirring.  "That must've been a helluva evenin' " Trip slurred out as he flopped onto his back.  Then squinting up at his friend, "Malcolm?  Watcha doin' here?  What happened to m'bed?  S'hard"

    "I'm afraid you've misinterpreted the situation Commander."

    "What, no deb...debacer... debaucherous party?"

    "I'm afraid not sir.  A rock met your head, as it were."  I smile tugged at the corner of his mouth.  Although it was fueled by Trip’s comments and the sheer relief that he was able to make them, the memory of the almost comical thwock was partly to blame.  He guiltily brushed it away and schooled his features as he helped his friend sit up.

    "S'Trip Malcolm, it's Trip."  Trip sat up and then sagged forward holding his temples.  "Oh god m'head.  What happened and where th'hell are we?"

    "As I said, a rock hit your head.  You fell off the cliff and I had to pull you out of the water.  This was the nearest dry land I could find."


    Malcolm gently tipped Trip's head up until he could look in his eyes.  "Don't you remember walking along the cliff?  You decided to stop under an overhang.  A crumbling overhang."

    "I remember walking on the beach.  There were cliffs ahead've me.  I think."  Malcolm looked intently into Trip's eyes and noticed that one pupil looked slightly larger that the other.  Trip seemed to be trying to mentally process the situation he found himself in.

    "No drunken debaucheries? Just hit by a rock?  Las’ time I felt like this was the morning after the post survival training festivities in Australia.  Feels like it must've rattled the old noggin.  'M feelin a bit shaky  s'well, and tired."  Trip trailed off and closed his eyes.  "Ate snake in 'Stralia ya know."

    "Trip, look at me."  Trip blearily opened his eyes and looked at Malcolm.  "You've definitely got a concussion so I need to you to stay awake so that I can keep an eye on you."  Malcolm fancied he heard a mumbled "not again" before Trip grimaced and nodded.  Malcolm gently helped Trip move so he was sitting against the cliff before settling across from his friend, back f acing the ocean.  Trip seemed to be lost in thought while staring at the sea and sky beyond Malcolm.  Neither was sure how long they sat there before Trip gently shook his head and broke the silence.

    “Now what?”

    “As I see it we can wait here until we're rescued or we can try to leave.  I'm all for the former option and I don't think you could swim to shore or climb back to the path.

    "Actually Malcolm, it doesn't look like we've got much choice in the matter."


    Trip pointed up into the sky.  Malcolm followed Trip's line of sight and his gaze came to rest on the planet's moon which was faintly visible in the blue sky.  Malcolm gave Trip a blank look.  "Moon Malcolm.  Just like Earth.  Weren'tcha supposed to be a navy man?"

    Malcolm turned and surveyed the waterline on their ledge.  The water had risen as least 20 cm and was nearly at the same level as their ledge.  He groaned
aloud.  "The bloody tide is coming in."


    Water had begun to creep o ver the lip of the ledge and was pooling behind Malcolm.  “We're supposed to check-in in an hour or so,  the captain will realize that something has happened.  It won't take them too long to scan for our biosigns and then...”  Trip held up his hands to silence the other man.

    “I want you to take a good look around and describe our situation to me as an objective tactical officer.”

    Malcolm sighed softly.  “The high tide line appears to be several meters above our heads and the water is rising quite rapidly. Knowing the captain he'll think we're off enjoying ourselves and give us an extra half hour before he starts hailing us to ask where we are.  The best course of action would be for both of us to leave our current location as quickly as possible.”
    “Look Malcolm, I don't feel so fuddled anymore but I ain't up to scratch either.  I don't know that I could swim to the beach without getting into serious difficulty.”

    Malcolm could see where this train of thought was going and began to feel his earlier trepidation all over again.  “I really think we should stay here and wait it out.  That cliff isn't climbable, besides,"  his voice sunk to a whisper,  "I'm not exactly a strong swimmer.”

    Trip's gaze snapped back to Malcolm's face.  He tried to mask the incredulity in his voice as he questioned the armoury officer.  “Exactly how ‘not strong.’  You can obviously swim, you managed to get me here after all.  Is your butterfly not ship shape or...”  He trailed off as he saw that Malcolm's cheeks had a pinkish tinge to them.  Trip realized that there was more going on here than he'd initially thought.  “What is it Malcolm?  Have you not done much swimming?  Don't worry, it's not that far to the beach .”

    “Not much would be an understatement.  I generally avoid swimming if I can help it sir.”

    Trip let the ‘sir’ go and tried to focus on the heart of the matter.  “But there's something else isn't there?”

    “I've never been good with water sir.”

    “'Good' as a general indicator or ‘good’ as in how I am with bugs?”

    “I would say you are excellent with bugs compared to myself and water.”

    Trip let out an explosive breath.  ; “Jesus Malcolm.”


    “Now you can swim a bit.  You passed water survival right?”  At Malcolm’s terse nod he continued.  “You'll have to take your boots off, they'll just bog ya down.  It might be a good idea to take off your uniform too since you're not a strong swimmer.”  Trip expected some sort of protest at that last idea but Malcolm was silent as he started to remove his boots.  “You can just sit on the edge and slide in.  That will keep your head above water if you're careful.”
     Malcolm’s jaw was grimly set as he moved to the edge sans uniform.  He deftly stuck his legs over and braced himself with his arms.

    “Malcolm.”  He turned to look at Trip.  “Thanks.”

    Malcolm nodded then took a breath and used shaking arms to push himself off the ledge.

Like Venus from the Water...

    Malcolm closed his eyes as he slipped into the water.  Following Trip’s instructions he held his arms out and gave a downwards stroke as he went in.  The motion had the desired effect as the water didn’t rise above his chin.  If he had gone under Malcolm didn’t care to think what would have happened.  He doubted his already frayed nerves could handle being underwater twice in one day.  He opened his eyes briefly to determine which direction he should swim in.  When he found the shortest route to the beach he firmly closed his eyes and began to paddle along it.

     He swam for several minutes before he decided to open his eyes to check his progress.  His eyes opened wide as he saw that he had barely made three meters of headway.  He was so bewildered the discomfort that had constantly loomed in the back of his mind was forgotten.  He was only puzzled a moment longer as a glance at the cliff face showed him something important.  He was moving backwards.

"Blasted flood tide."

    Not only that, he was moving backwards at a considerable speed.  At his previous pace there was no way he’d be able to make it to the beach before the tide rose above Trip’s head.

"Right, time for drastic measures."

    He had seen it done before.  He’d even seen children doing it at the beach.  He slowed his rapid paddling and forced himself to float more horizontally.  He took a deep breath and closed his eyes.  Before he could lose his nerve he flung his face into the water and began to kick as hard as he could.  His arms were windmilling around frenetically and he counted their rotations.  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8... just how many strokes is one supposed to take before they breathe?  He realized that aspect of the crawl was something he hadn’t paid much attention to in the past.  He did know that you tilted your head to the side in order to breathe without stopping.  Malcolm’s lungs were beginning to burn so he inclined his head and inhaled.

     What he inhaled was a mixture of equal parts air and seawater.


     Malcolm’s eyes watered as the water burned down his trachea to enter his lungs.  He stopped mid stroke and was wracked with choking coughs.  He coughed frantically as he felt his old fear begin to take hold.  He kicked hard to keep his head above water and sputtered until he could breathe normally.

"Better out than in."  He dimly remembered his grandfather using the old adage.
     He sighed and looked around.  Malcolm was pleasantly pleased to discover that he had made some progress.  Before he could drift too far backwards he plunged his face in and set off.  He developed a steady rhythm of eight strokes followed by a short pause for breathing purposes.  As the counting of strokes became automatic he found his mind wandering.


    He remembered what was the first and coincidentally the last time he “swam” as a child.  Stuart Reed was on leave from being stationed somewhere in the South Pacific and the entire family had gone to spend a Sunday afternoon at the seaside.  His father had been reading a book while Malcolm built a sand castle with Madeline.  Stuart Reed had abruptly sat up and dusted invisible sand off his legs before standing and declaring that he was going for a swim.  Mary Reed said that she would stay with her daughter and Stuart’s attention turned to his son.

    “Well come on Malcolm, time for a dip.”  Fear gripped the six year old and he turned imploring eyes on his mo ther.  Mary looked at her son before gently speaking.

    “Malcolm’s not one for swimming dear.”

    “What do you mean ‘not one for swimming’?  He’s a Reed.”

    “He just doesn’t take to it.  He won’t even take a bath.  I don’t think it’s a good idea to push him.”


    “I think he might have a problem with water.  Rather like your uncle.”

    “My uncle got over it.  My son will too.”

    “Dear, I don’t think...”
    His mother had acquiesced.  That was the day Malcolm lost faith in his mother.

    His father had removed the leather belt from his pants.  He’d led Malcolm into the water until it was up to Malcolm’s waist.  Stuart had then threaded the belt around his son’s waist and through the buckle so that he had the excess strap in a line.  It was like a sturdy leash around Malcolm’s waist.

    “Many a Reed has learned to swim this way.”

    He then unceremoniously pushed Malcolm face first into the water.

    It had been positively horrid.  One moment there was fresh air, the next he was completely submerged.  He had flailed frantically in an effort to stand but his father was keeping him horizontal with a steady force on the belt.  It was then that he had truly panicked.  He thrashed madly, terror rendering him uncoordinated.  Whenever his face cleared the surface Malcolm screeched as loudly as he could.  He inhaled water and thrashed harder in a vain attempt to get free from the suffocating grip of the ocean.  All at once he felt his father’s hands clamp down on his shoulders and he was righted.  His father had held him upright in a painfully tight grip as he coughed up water.  As he thought back Malcolm recalled his father muttering something about a “stinging jelly” to worried bystanders before gathering up his son and hustling back up the beach.  The next day Stuart Reed had shipped out, not to be seen until Christmas.


    As he straightened to take a breath Malcolm felt sand between his toes.


    Malcolm stood up and found the water to be waist deep.  He’d made it.


    Jonathan Archer threw the tennis ball and smiled as Porthos bounded after it.  It felt so good to have grass underfoot, even if it had a pinkish hue to it.  He was taking Porthos for a much deserved walk and the beagle appeared to be enjoying every minute of it.  The captain was some distance from the beach when a motion caught his eye.  There was something  splashing near the shore.  He reached for his communicator with one hand and the phase pistol Malcolm had insisted he carry with the other.  He paused as he saw the frantic splashing trail off.  What he saw next made his eyes open wide in amazement.   Rising from the water came an apparition in electric blue underwear.  But lo,this was no Greco-Roman love goddess but a man, and an armoury officer at that.  Archer felt his mouth fall open.


    After a second glance to verify that it was indeed Lieutenant Reed.

    "I thought he was terrified of water."
    And upon further inspection.

" What happened to his uniform?"





    His pulse pounded in his abused head.  He tried to ignore it but the pain was insistent, forcing him to acknowledge his throbbing eardrums and aching head.


    Last time I felt like this Coach Anderson was hollarin' at me to “shake it off,” goddam football coaches.

    Trip gingerly cracked an eye open but Malcolm had long since disappeared around an outcropping.  He held his breath and listened carefully but he couldn’t hear Malcolm’s splashy swimming.  That didn’t mean anything either way though, any soft sounds were lost in the thrumming of his pulse in his ears.  The sun was shining on his face, he could feel it slowly burning his skin.

    //”Charlie, come inside and put a hat on.  You’ll look like a lobster in no time.R 21;  His six year old self had pretended not to hear, running barefoot on the grass.  Hats weren’t any fun, all they did was blow off.  He stretched his arms out, he was flying.  He sprinted away from the front porch, making engine noises as he “flew” across the lawn.//

    Trip tried to rouse himself to think about his situation.

What are ya gonna do if Malcolm takes too long?"

    He almost managed to be serious with himself.   He knew he had to get it together, but he felt so tired.   Trip closed his eyes and allowed himself to slip back in time until he was that boy again, delighting in the feel of grass between his toes.

    //His momma called from the house.  He turned in a wide arc and headed towards the house.  He could see the front porch clearly, there was that little table they put outside in the summertime.  It was lunchtime, on the table there was a plate with a grilled cheese sandwich and a glass of lemonade.  He flopped down on the chair and eagerly grabbed the glass, bring it to his lips.//   This wasn’t right, there was supposed to be lemonade...

    Trip licked his dry and cracked lips , the ocean permeated his senses.  He turned his head so that one side of his face was sheltered from the scorching sun.  The sun warmed rock was rough on his cheek.  He sighed and opened his eyes as he took stock of his situation.  The water was almost at his collarbone.  He held out his arms but they sunk much faster than he expected, it was almost like they didn’t float at all.  There was something about this planet’s “water”, somehow it wasn’t as dense as an Earth ocean.  He experimented with his arms again.  There wasn’t any doubt about it,  you didn’t float nearly as well as you did in an earth ocean.  Trip vaguely remembered T’Pol talking about the planet’s surface gravity being greater than Earth’s.  He figured the 1.something g must be adding to the buoyancy issue.

    Trip leaned heavily against the cliff as he struggled to stand upright.  He was almost there when his shaking knees betrayed him and he fell back onto the ledge.  He splashed until he managed to prop himself up again and force himself upright.  He managed to hold the standing position for a few minutes before his knees gave out and he was sitting on the ledge.  The water had risen, it was at the top of his uniform’s zipper.

Not much longer now.

    He tried to bury that thought.

"The last time I almost died..."

Trip wryly grinned at the tone his inner monologue had taken.

"Ya’d think I’d be used ta this by now.  I’ve been vacuumed, broiled and frozen, now I’m pickled in some alien ocean.  Hell, it ain’t that bad.  Ya can’t kill Trip Tucker.  Must be some sort of cosmic law by now, or at least one of those generally accepted things everybody knows.  Yeah, like inert gases don’t react or that you can’t travel faster than 3.00 x 10^6 m/s.  It’ll be fine, forget “Danger”, Mr. Malcolm “Determined” Reed will get to the away team.  It’s not that far of a swim."

    Trip’s grin faded at this.

"Dammit, if it were only Jon.  Jon I trust implicitly, not to mention the fact he’s not afraid of water.  Who ever heard of a guy from a line of navy men who’s afraid of water?  Not fair, not fair.  He’s the one who jumped in the ocean to pull my sorry ass out.  It’s just, hell, give anyone in my situation the choic e of who to be stranded with and they’d pick the water polo player over the aquaphobic.  Not to mention the fact that I already owe Jon my life enough times over it wouldn’t make a huge difference.  Even with the airlock incident Malcolm still respected me.  Well, still respected me a bit.  Okay, so I frequently stick my foot in my mouth and wander off cliffs but I’m a decent engineer.  Just a damn sorry excuse for a C.O.  Starfleet’s best and brightest my ass."

    Trip sighed and brought his hand up to dribble cool water over his face.  The ocean had risen to the extent that the water was at his chin.

"Something must have happened.  Maybe he just couldn’t swim well enough, maybe he panicked.  Maybe he drowned.  It's been far too long, the cavalry should have arrived a while back.  I guess we’re both dead.  Can’’t believe I was so stupid.  What an idiotic waste."

    Trip took one last look at the ocean before closing his eyes to try and think of his family.

"And I’m supposed to be the optimistic one."


     There was a roaring noise above him.  Trip’s eyes shot open and he squinted into the sunlight.  A shuttlepod was silhouetted against the sky.  Awestruck, he watched as it slowly dipped lower towards his position.  The pilot held it steady while keeping the engines carefully angled away from him.  Trip smiled broadly.

"Must be Travis."

    When the shuttle was a few meters above him the hatch opened and a figure jumped out.  A few seconds later Trip found himself hauled upright by no less than Jonathan Archer.

    “Come on Trip, up we go”


    “Let’s get you back to Enterprise commander, Phlox has got a biobed with your name on it.”  The shuttle maneuvered lower until it was at a height where the people on the ledge could climb through the hatch.  Jon laughed in response to Trip’s mumbled question.  “Yes Trip, by the looks of your head you deserve a barrel of Phlox’s special ‘happy juice’.”  The commander was carefully transferred to the shuttle before the captain clambered aboard and it gained altitude.

    Trip sat in a puddle on the floor of the shuttlepod.  A blanket was draped across his knees and he looked up to find a rather damp lieutenant Reed sitting in the jumpseat.

    Trip grinned widely.  “Good job Malcolm, I never doubted ya for a moment.”

    Malcolm smiled his half smile before turning to hail Enterprise, “Shuttlepod 2 returning to Enterprise,  all people accounted for.”