Title: Improbable

Author: Joules Mer

Author's e-mail: julia_ocean_child@yahoo.co.uk

Author's URL: http://jmenterprise.popullus.net

Date: Posted to EntSTSlash 9/20/20004

Archive: Will be sent to EntSTCommunity.  Everyone else please ask first.

Fandom: Star Trek Enterprise

Category: Slash

Rating: PG-13

Pairing: T/R

Summary:  The beginning of a new future.

Series:  The Grandfather Paradox (fifth in series, sequel to Uncertainty)

Beta: None

Spoilers: Zero Hour and Countdown (major spoilers), general season 3.

Disclaimer: Enterprise is the property of Paramount.  Characters just borrowed for fun.  No profit was, or will be, made by this story.  

A/N:  AU

"Given so much time, the 'impossible' becomes possible, the possible probable, and the probable virtually certain.  One only has to wait: time itself performs miracles."
-George Wald

    The door to the airlock slides open and I'm confronted with Trip and T'Pol standing by the controls.  I notice that they appear to have something wrong with their skin, but don't dwell on it in the face of what's happened.  "It's done."

    "Done?"  T'Pol prods me for more details I don't want to give.

    "Captain Archer destroyed the weapon."

    "Where is he?  Is he okay?"

    Trip's gaze flits between the airlock and my face.  I make sure I have his full attention before I speak.  I don't want to say this twice.  "Captain didn't make it, Trip."

    You can almost see a wave of denial crash over him.  "What do you mean he didn't make it?"

    "The weapon exploded..."  There's a hitch in my voice and I have to force out the rest of the words, "before he could transport to Degra's ship."

    He's stunned.  Before he can recover from the shock of my announcement Hoshi pulls him into a tight hug.  Not wanting to break down in front of T'Pol and the subordinates milling around I hurry off to make myself busy returning my rifle and a spare detonator to the armoury.  Some friend I am.  I can't even bring myself to look back.


    It's disturbing to look out the windows and only see the belly of an alien ship.  I feel like Kipling's mariner, swallowed raft and all by a whale.  My mother used to tell me that story when I was little, and up till now the memory had always been comforting.  We're about five hours from Earth now, and I'm not supposed to be back on duty for another two.  T'Pol relieved me of duty soon after I'd returned my rifle.  I can't help but wonder if she thinks the captain's death was my fault.  An unexpected chime from my door catches me lost in thought and it takes a moment for me to respond.  "Yes?"

    There's a short hesitation before the door slides open and a figure stands framed in the doorway.  "Hi Malcolm."  Trip gives me an inscrutable glance before continuing softly.  "Can I come in?"

    It takes me a moment to unstick my suddenly dry tongue from the roof of my mouth.  "Of course."

    A few quick strides from the doorway and he collapses into my small sofa.  He doesn't say anything at first, just stares at his feet.  The silence is long enough to make me uncomfortable and I start to fiddle with the edge of the blanket I'm sitting on. I don't know what to say so he's forced to finally break the silence.  "Do you want me to go?"  My head snaps up at that.  Trip's sitting so close to the edge of the seat that our knees are almost touching across the gap between the sofa and my bed.

    "No.  I'm glad you're here."  Which it true.  Moping around alone wasn't getting me anywhere.

    He cocks his head slightly.  "You seemed pretty surprised to see me."

    "No..."  There's no use lying to him and I can't bring myself to anyway.  "I just... I thought you'd have gone to T'Pol."

    Though the deep lines of pain on his face shines a ghost of a smile, he's obviously remembering something.  "She might have shared some... intimate information with me, but with the Cap'n gone,"  His voice hitches at that and the last few words come out sounding strangled, "you're my best friend."

    I feel a wave of guilt, even though I don't really know what I could have done differently.  The words catch in my throat, "I tried, Trip."

    "I know, Malcolm."  He sounds so tired.
    I look down at my hands and the pleats they have made in the bedspread.  "He ordered me to go.  To take Hoshi and go."

    I hear Trip take a juddering breath at that and when he speaks his voice is muffled by the hand he's holding over his face.  "I knew he was going to pull something like that.  I could tell.  I should have warned you, Malcolm."

    I can't believe Trip blames himself for the captain's death.  Himself and not me.  When he lowers his hand I can see the beginnings of tear tracks on his face which is badly contorted as he tries to hold his emotions in.  I impulsively reach out and grab his hand, using it to pull him up off the sofa and over to sit next to me.  I curl one arm around his shoulders tightly and speak softly into his ear.  "Oh, Trip.  Let it out.  Let it all out."  And he finally, after all the months and all the deaths, starts to cry.  Really cry.  He's clutching at my wrist hard enough to hurt and making a mess on my uniform, but I don't care.

    After a while his sobs subside until they stop altogether and he becomes a dead weight against my side.  Since he doesn't wake when I disentangle myself I manoeuvre him into a comfortable position, pull off his boots, and pull the blanket over him.  Checking the time I decide to go and check in on Hoshi before going on shift.  I leave him sleeping in the bed, setting my alarm for an hour before we're due to arrive home.


    I shift anxiously in my chair at tactical, wondering if I should comm my quarters to make sure he woke up on time.  Even Hoshi has come up from sickbay, and she still looks far too pale.  I know Trip wouldn't want to miss our arrival home.

    The turbolift door slides open and he's here, running a hand through his hair to smooth it down.  He goes straight to the science station and plops down in the seat normally occupied by T'Pol.  "Mind if we take a look?"  When she nods he turns on the main viewer, magnifying until we can get a good look at what we've fought for.  Raw emotion grates in Trip's throat.  "Prettiest sight I ever saw, and it's all in one piece."

    I swallow my emotions as best I can and offer, "The Captain would be proud."

    The moment is broken when T'Pol returns to business.  "Open a channel to Starfleet Headquarters."

    The comm beeps a few times before Hoshi comments, "Strange."


    "They're not responding."

    I check my own scans in confusion.  "You'd think they'd be waiting with bated breath."

    "Try another frequency."

    Confusion turns to concern when Travis speaks up.  "I'm not picking up the orbital platforms."

    Still hoping there's a rational explanation for the silence I offer one thing I know for certain.  "The Reptilians destroyed Yosemite Station."

    My hopes are dashed when Travis slowly shakes his head.  "It's not just Yosemite.  There's nothing coming from any of them."

    The comm gives a final chirp and Hoshi looks up.  "I've rotated through all the frequencies."

    T'Pol paces around the bridge, for a Vulcan she seems agitated.  "Contact the Lunar 1 colony."

    "I already tried."

    Before I can request to lead a team T'Pol turns to Trip.  "Prepare a shuttlepod.  I want you and Ensign Mayweather to get down to San Francisco.  Find out what's wrong."


    After what seems like an interminable wait Hoshi announces that we're being hailed.  "Shuttlepod One to Enterprise."  Trip's excited voice squawks through the bridge speakers accompanied by an odd metalic clattering sound.

    "Enterprise.  What's your status, Commander?"  T'Pol's voice from the captain's chair is a sorry reminder of what we've lost.

    "We're under attack!"

    I straighten in my seat at this unexpected information, a thousand questions on the tip of my tongue prompted by sudden fear for Trip and Travis.  "Who's attacking you?"

    "We're being fired on by projectile weapons.  They're not doing much but making noise.  There are airplanes- just like in the old history books."

    "Return to Enterprise."

    "We're on our way."  Trip cuts the comm channel and silence fills the bridge.  We've made it home, but it's clear something is very wrong.


    "... and the bridge was there, but when we closed in we saw HQ was missing.  There were these planes coming at us in formation just after we broke through the clouds.  They had *propellors*!"  For a moment I stop focusing on Trip's raving and just allow myself to be relieved they made it back to Enterprise safely.  When he finally winds down I lean across the table in the command centre and start to speak.  "So Earth appears to be pre-warp.  Have we somehow gone back in time?"  I shift in my seat as my frustration at an incomprehensible situation mounts.  "Why is it like this?"

    "Because it was in their interest to hold back the level of technology."  As one we turn to face the man standing in the doorway of the command centre.  Daniels takes another step inside and continues to speak as he moves to join us at the table.  "You haven't travelled anywhere in time.  A species called the Agrios is behind  the change in the timeline."

    T'Pol merely raises an eyebrow at our unexpected guest.  "Am I to presume you know what has happened?"

    "The Agrios are going to annex Earth."

    That doesn't make sense to me.  "Then why have they made it like this rather than just gone and annexed it properly?"

    "You'll notice we tend to only send back one or two people or a small vessel at a time.  The energy required for more, depending how much time you want to skip over, is prohibitive.  From what I can tell an invasion force will arrive about sixty years from now.  That's about as far back as they can send a large amount of personnel and supplies.  Normally we monitor the Agrios very carefully, they have always been militant expansionists, but with recent events we were not as diligent as we should have been.  My guess is that they knew your Earth of 2214 would have been able to defend itself against such an attack.  To get around that it appears they sent teams of individuals back to the 20th century and somehow managed to prolong the second world war without allowing substantial increases in the level of technology.  This Earth is no match for their technology and will be overrun.  My future no longer exists."

    My forehead furrows at the subtleties of time travel.  "Then how are you here?"

    "I was in the past when they changed the future."

    Travis gets an odd look on his face and speaks up, "Wait, then how are *we* here?"

    "From what I can tell the spatial anomalies in the Expanse can also be temporal.  The probability of it happening is almost nonexistent, but if their meddling coincided with a temporal anomaly you could continue to exist in this new timeline."  Even T'Pol seems skeptical of that explanation.  Daniels shrugs.  "It's the best I can come up with, and it isn't impossible."

    Casting aside suppositions I try to turn to practical matters.  "So what do we do?"

    "We get Captain Archer and try to stop the initial Agrios incursion.  With some help I should be able to modify my equipment enough to take a small team."

    "The Cap'n's dead."  Trip fixes Daniels with a dull stare.  "He was killed destroying the sphere, I don't see how you can undo his death without letting Earth be completely destroyed."

    "Captain Archer is alive."

    "What?"  I can't stay the outburst.  How dare he give Trip false hope when I don't see how the captain could have survived.

    "How do you know he is alive?"  

    Daniels seems relieved to be able to turn and answer T'Pol instead of confronting my disbelief and anger.  "My organization implants transponders in key historical figures.  I'm picking up a signal from Captain Archer's.  He's on Earth."

    "And he's not dead?"  There's a distinct tremble in Trip's voice which he tries to hide.

    Confidence is plain in Daniels' tone.  "It wouldn't work if he were."

    Everyone allows a measure of relief to show on their faces, but I don't think any of us can truly let ourselves believe the captain is alive until we see him in the flesh.  After a moment another question presents itself to me and I shift uncomfortably.  "Just... how many of us have you put transponders in?"

    Daniels merely gives me a funny smile before changing the topic completely.  "If I tie in my equipment to Enterprise's scanners we may be able to pinpoint the captain's location on the surface.  I'll need some help reconfiguring a power source so that my equipment will work.  I have to warn you, though, this isn't a sure thing at all.  We can try to reduce the risks, but moving a group of people with something designed for a single person is dangerous."

    "But we have to try."  I can tell by the faces of my colleagues that they all agree with Trip's statement.

    Seeing that the meeting is about to break up I speak up, "Technology usually increases dramatically during wartime.  It was during World War Two that the atomic bomb was created.  How could they keep Earth this primitive for over two hundred years?"

    Daniels frowns.  "I don't know, but maybe we can find out."