Title: What a Linguist Hears
Author: Joules Mer
Disclaimer: Enterprise is the property of Paramount. No profit was
made, no copyright infringement is intended.
Spoilers: The Expanse, The Xindi.
Archive: Yes to EntSTCommunity, Tim Ruben and BLTS. Everyone else contact
me for permission.
of dying men enforce attention like deep harmony."
-William Shakespeare, Richard II, II.1.5-6
When I was a child my father would often talk about my magical
ears. And magical they were, I could hear a whisper across a crowded room
and learn new languages with incredible ease. I'd always thought my magical
ears were a wondrous gift. I treasured them above all else that I had.
In this expanse, however, my gift has turned into a terrible burden. For
now I hear things that I was never meant to.
"Oh god T'Pol." He sounds shocked. It must be bad.
"Here, I'll put this over it. Get the doctor." He yells the last sentence
and I hurry to comply. Hoping against hope that Phlox can get here in time.
"Just lie still, T'Pol, the doc is on his way. Here, I'll put some more
pressure on it, hold still." I hear a faint groan and realize from the inflection
that it must have been T'Pol.
"Don't worry, T'Pol. You'll be just fine. Just
hold on a little longer and Phlox will be able to patch you up as good as new.
Don't you worry."
Her voice is halting as she struggles to breathe, "Even in
the valley of the shadow of death, two and two do not make six."
Charles Tucker III
T'Pol's death brought this mission into sharp, terrible focus.
While we knew that this was a high risk mission, few had taken the time to consider
that this might really be, as Commander Tucker so elegantly put it, "a one way
ticket." In truth, Trip was probably the only one to have seriously considered
it at all. For everyone else it was what had to be done. For Trip
it was personal, and it was about death.
Trip was one person I truly expected to see this mission through.
I was sure he was far too stubborn to give up before he found his much craved
vengeance. I was wrong.
We landed on the planet to try and get information on the elusive
Xindi home world. A day spent questioning the local inhabitants and aliens
that manned the trading outpost had yielded few results. Malcolm suggested
that we head to the local equivalent of a spaceport bar. Perhaps there would
be cargo haulers that might have information.
We'd worn out our welcome, that much was clear. In the
Expanse it isn't polite to ask too many questions, and Trip had posed a great
deal to a very reluctant audience.
"Why do you want to know about these Xindi?"
"How about I ask the questions here?" That was the wrong
thing to say, but Trip is too agitated to realize that. I look searchingly
for Malcolm, but he's in a far corner of the room deeply engrossed in conversation.
"What if I were to tell you I am a Xindi?" Trip rounds
on the man, his hands clench into fists and his eyes glitter with a boundless
"Then I would like ta discuss something with ya. Outside."
Trip steps forward and the alien rises from his chair. Damn. I need
Malcolm here now. I've turned to get him when I hear a scuffle of movement
and a sudden whoosh like someone having the air knocked out of them. I spin
round and see Trip standing stock still, the alien directly in front of him.
As I watch the alien speaks softly to Trip. "I am not a Xindi, my friend,
but they are some of my best customers. Your people should not make enemies
of those that have been in the Expanse far longer than you." The man takes
a step backwards before he turns and quickly leaves the bar with his companions.
Trip still hasn't moved. I hear Malcolm walk up beside me, curious about
the disturbance. Trip slowly raises his hands and seems to clutch his stomach.
"Trip? What happened?" Instead of answering Malcolm
he drops to his knees. "Trip!" Malcolm is at his side in an instant.
"Hoshi, have Enterprise transport us up as quickly as possible. We have
a medical emergency." He gently lowers Trip to the floor and I see a large
patch of crimson blossoming on the man's abdomen. The alien stabbed him.
I step back, as much to contact Enterprise as give them time
alone together. I quickly relay Malcolm's message and find myself unsure
what to do. There is so much blood on Trip. His shirt is saturated
with it and it has started to wick up Malcolm's sleeves as he presses on the wound.
I'm not a medic, but I can tell there isn't much I can do besides be in the way.
"Malcolm." The voice is weak and throaty. So much
like T'Pol's was.
"Yes, Trip. I'm here, love."
"M'sorry." He gives a weak cough. "I'm sorry I
pushed ya away when ya tried ta help me, Mal."
"Shhh, love. It's okay."
"Didn't mean ta hurt ya."
"I know, love, I know."
"I never stopped loving ya Mal. I was just afraid you'd
die, Mal. I couldn't have someone I cared about die."
"I understand, Trip, don't worry."
"I love ya, darlin'."
"I love you too, Trip. I love you so much." Tears
prick my eyes and begin to run down my face.
"Mal. Will ya do somethin' for me?" His voice is
weaker than ever. I want to place my hands over my ears. I want to drown
out what I'm sure is coming. I couldn't bear to hear a plea for the
death of Xindi. I couldn't bear to hear Malcolm agree to be a killer.
There had been far too much death already.
Commander Tucker has always been capable of surprising me.
"Drink to me."
After Trip's death Malcolm sort of closed in on himself.
If he wasn't in the armoury or on the bridge he was sleeping in his quarters,
which was itself a rare occurrence. Travis and I took to bringing him meals
in his beloved armoury. If it weren't for us I suspect he'd have stopped
eating altogether. The captain changed as well, even more so than he had
after T'Pol's death. My old friend Jon was replaced by a caricature of himself
that was completely focused on our mission. Determined to bring retribution
to the Xindi.
That was how we found ourselves in this alien wasteland.
The captain had heard that some of the inhabitants of the shantytown knew about
the Xindi. He sent Malcolm and Major Hayes along with me for protection
while I talked with them. We landed on the outskirts of town and were halfway
to the first hut when the world around us exploded. Shots were fired from
a multitude of directions. Malcolm yelled for Hayes to get to the pod and
prepare it for immediate lift off, he would look after me.
I was being propelled along by Malcolm who was occasionally
taking pot shots over his shoulder. I could hear his voice with its clipped
accent in my ear.
"Go Ensign, go. Run as fast as you can and don't stop."
He was running directly behind me, shielding me from the blasts, when I heard
a sudden noise like a sob and felt him stumble. I was almost at the hatch,
but I began to turn to see what had happened to him.
"Go away, I'm all right."
Albrecht von Haller
The alien was strapped firmly to the biobed. I stood
next to the captain, dutifully holding the universal translator as he conducted
the interrogation. Answers weren't forthcoming and I could sense the captain
getting angry in his frustration. He turned to the doctor and lowered his
voice. "Give it to him."
"Captain. The serum could cause severe damage to his
system. Ethically I..."
"I said give it to him." Jon's voice was a low growl.
Phlox moved back to the bed and there was the faint hiss of a hypospray discharging.
"Where are they?" There was no reply. "Where are
they?" The alien began to pant. "Where are they?"
"They're...ahrg...the....they're..." He trailed off and
his back arched off of the biobed.
"Where are they?" The alien gave a shriek and began thrashing.
"Captain! I cannot allow this to continue in my sickbay.
Stand aside." Captain Archer glared at the doctor for a long moment before
he grudgingly stepped aside. Phlox hurried over to the bed and administered
a hypospray before he loosened one of the prisoner's hands and attempted to insert
some sort of intravenous line. In an instant the alien seized a scalpel
from a nearby tray and thrust upwards with all his might. There was a flash
as the security officer in the room stunned him, but it was too late. Phlox
fell backwards, crashing to the floor below the biobed. For a moment I saw
a trace of the old Jon as he leapt to the doctor's side.
"Phlox! Are you all right? What should I do?"
Phlox carefully pressed his hand to his own neck, his vivid
blue eyes were wide. "My friend, the artery ceases to beat."
We were so close. Everything pointed to this star system.
The intercepted communiqués, the carefully gathered personal accounts,
the ships that we'd been tracking. We knew we'd finally found the Xindi.
Captain Archer wanted to gather intelligence before they were alerted to our presence
so he hid Enterprise on the other side of a nearby sun and had Travis fly a recon
mission. Travis took our Suliban cell ship and made a series of low passes
over what appeared to be major Xindi cities. Live telemetry was sent back
to Enterprise, the captain pored over it in the command centre. Travis was
almost back to Enterprise when alarms began to sound at the tactical and engineering
stations. "Ensign, I'm reading an overload in your secondary cloaking generator."
Travis' voice rang through the comm link as he answered Lieutenant
Hess. "I'm trying to compensate, but..." He was cut off as alarms
began to sound from the ship's systems.
"It's spread to your primary generator. I'm transporting
you back." Her fingers danced over the computer terminal. I couldn't
hear Travis on the comm anymore, but the channel was still open. A fact
demonstrated by the hissing and popping of overloading circuitry that was being
piped into the bridge. "I've got him." The relief was evident in her
voice. "Have a medic and the captain meet us there." I look up quickly
and she gives me a weak smile. "You're his friend, Ensign." I nod
my thanks as I summon the doctor and the captain.
We rush to the transporter and find the captain and a medic
crouching over a still form on the dais. Hess and I carefully step up behind
them and lean over as well. Travis is still breathing weakly, and even as
we stand there his eyes slowly open. He looks up at the assembled audience
for a moment.
"Am I dying or is is this my birthday?"
The true Xindi death count is still unknown. It has been
placed anywhere from thousands to millions. We're on our way back to Earth
where we will be hailed as returning heroes, in the Expanse, however, we still
have to live with ourselves.
After Travis' death we advanced on the planet. Diplomacy
failed so we resorted to the backup plan that had been sitting in our cargo bays
since we left Earth. A hundred small satellites were launched into orbit,
each one carrying a deadly payload. As they sparked to life and destroyed
the Xindi civilization I heard one whispered word from the captain. "Genocide."
We remained in orbit until we were sure the satellites had
done their job. Then the captain had the helm set a course for Earth while
he made a general announcement to the crew that we were going home. He left
me in command of the bridge while he went into his ready room. Presumably
to contact Starfleet.
I don't know how long I'd been sitting there, when I heard
a funny noise from Captain Archer's ready room. I think that I knew what
it was even as I turned command over to the helmsman and went to investigate.
I entered the room to find the captain slumped over his desk,
a phase pistol weakly grasped in his right hand. There was an active padd
on the tabletop next to him. It contained only one line.
"My work is done, why wait?" So Jon had still been in
The wind ruffles my hair, finally free from its constricting
ponytail. My civvies feel unfamiliar against my skin as I sit on the grass
watching the sunset. The sky has turned into a watercolour painting, a warm
peachy glow shot through with pink. I can hear the waves crashing against
the shore and the delighted shrieks of children playing in the warm surf.
No one on Earth ever questions what we did. Everyone feels that we did what
we had to do to defend ourselves. To them the Xindi were a faceless, evil
enemy, while our actions were justified. In truth, I don't see how we're