Title: Lives Lost
Author: Joules Mer
Author's e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Author's URL: http://jmenterprise.popullus.net
Date: Posted to EntSTSlash 2/3/2004
Archive: Permission to archive granted to EntSTCommunity and BLTS. All others
Fandom: Star Trek Enterprise
Summary: It wasn't supposed to be like this.
Disclaimer: Enterprise is the property of Paramount. All Star Trek characters
were used without permission and solely for the enjoyment of Star Trek fans.
No profit has, or will, be made by this story.
A/N: Thanks go to Red for naming the dog.
The door slid open and he stepped into the dim room, his boots
making a muted sound on the deck plating. "Malcolm?" The uncertainty
in his tone was justified when he spotted a pair of boots sticking out from behind
the end of the bunk. "Oh Malcolm..."
"Shhh." The harsh word grated in the air and he was struck
silent. "Get down." He stood uncertainly for a moment before complying
and crouching on the floor. There was a rustling sound as Malcolm slithered
on his stomach out of his hiding place. When Malcolm spoke again his voice
was an urgent whisper, "You have to get down lower, they'll shoot in through the
He looked at the array of stars outside the cabin's porthole
before turning back to the man sprawled before him. Trip couldn't stop his
voice from breaking as he replied, "Oh Malcolm, there's no one there."
"He can't have free run of the ship."
"Cap'n, he's okay most of the time."
"And what about when he's not? Like last week in the
corridor. Besides, he's not okay most of the time." Jon scrubbed a
hand through his hair at Trip's defiant look. "Trip, I know for a fact that
he'll only sleep squished between you and the bulkhead with a weapon of some sort
within easy reach. That's not 'okay.' He's spooked all the time."
Trip reluctantly nodded so Jon continued, "He's confined to quarters, and I want
him locked in. He's not allowed out without you, me, Travis, T'Pol or someone
else who would have a hope of at least slowing him down in a fight. If Hoshi
wants to take him for a walk that's fine, but a security officer goes with them."
"Cap'n, he'll go crazy locked in his cabin all day!"
Trip winced at the wording of his outburst and found himself forced to agree with
the pointed look the captain gave him. It wasn't like it could get any worse.
"In here, Cap'n." Jon took a cautious step inside and
relaxed when he saw his friend seated on the bunk. "You okay? I heard
the screaming and..." He trailed off, not wanting to make the situation
worse by causing unrest.
Trip tightened his grip on the trembling bundle in his arms,
"Is he..." Jon trailed off as the blankets shifted and
Malcolm poked his head out to peer owlishly at the captain. Trip bent down
and planted a quick kiss on the top of his head before pulling the blanket back
up and encouraging Malcolm to turn back into his embrace.
"It's okay, darlin', it's just the captain." At Trip's
words Malcolm fixed Jon with one last piercing look before snuggling back down
against Trip's chest. Trip crooned softly to his charge until Malcolm finally
stopped shaking. When he turned back to the captain his eyes were haunted,
"It wasn't supposed to be this way."
"Dammit Jon!" The use of his first name stopped the captain
cold. Trip stood with his chest heaving for a moment before he forced himself
to calm down and speak in an even tone, "My mind is made up."
Jon felt his shoulders slump, "You're sure?"
Trip looked back with nothing less than his usual resoluteness,
"You know what kind of life you're getting yourself into?"
"I know Cap'n."
They stood for a moment in silence before Jon spoke, "You'd
better not forget to write."
Trip smiled at his longtime friend, "I'll miss you too, Cap'n."
The metal of the re-enforced door glinted as he reached for
the call button. Jon peered nervously at the multitude of security cameras
as he firmly pressed the button.
"Pass phrase?" The automated voice had his frantically
trying to remember his last letter from Trip.
He took a gulping breath as he finished and nervously eyed the placard that bore
the picture of a ferocious looking guard dog. A line of text stated that
"Cerberus" was "on duty."
"Pass phrase recognized. One moment please." A
minute later there was the sound of a lock releasing and the door opened.
"Cap'n!" Jon returned the hug, laughing at the enthusiastic
greeting. "It's good to see you, it's been so long." Jon pulled back
from his friend to get a better look. In most respects Trip looked the same,
just a few new lines on his face and a slight greying around his temples attested
to the passage of time. "Come in, come in." Trip gripped his arm and
pulled him through the front door. A dog immediately started barking from
some unseen location and when Trip hollered out a good natured "quiet Cerbs" the
racket ceased. When he caught Jon staring he shrugged and explained softly,
"It makes him feel safer, y'know? So I just humour him a bit."
Jon sank into the indicated chair and Trip took a seat next
to him, "Is he here?"
"Yeah, upstairs. I can't let him out on his own."
Trip shrugged apologetically, "I'll go up and get him in a bit, he's having a
nap right now. The strong anti-psychotics make him pretty dozy, not that
they do him much good at the best of times."
"How are you doing?" Trip had, of course, honoured his
promise to write, but Jon doubted his upbeat letters reflected the reality of
Trip let out a sharp gust of breath before he admitted the
truth, "It's been tough." Trip looked down at his feet for a moment and
Jon waited until he continued, "Sometimes he's almost like the old Malcolm.
Those are the days that keep me going. Most of the time it's not so good.
He's pretty paranoid all the time, used to think the birds outside our window
were shape shifting Suliban coming to get him and stuff like that. I still
hear from Phlox every now and then. He may be back on Denobula, but he's
still trying to figure out how to neutralize the damn chemical. I guess
Denobulans never give up."
A tear slipped out of the corner of Trip's eye and began to
roll down his cheek. He reached up to swipe it away, but Jon caught his
arm in midair and used it to pull Trip into an embrace. He held his friend
tightly until Trip broke down and cried, sobbing out long suppressed years worth
of frustration and grief.
When Trip was finally trailing off a bracelet on his left wrist
vibrated and he pulled back, "He's awake. You wait here and I'll go get
Jon sank back in his seat and looked at the prominently displayed
photographs from Enterprise's first two years exploring while Trip went to coax
The intercontinental shuttle lifted off with a jerk and Jon
relaxed into his cushioned seat. While it had been a difficult visit to
undertake, he was glad he'd seen Trip and Malcolm.
Malcolm. It had almost physically hurt to see his former
armoury officer, his friend, in that state. It had been about 15 minutes
before Trip had re-appeared, Malcolm trailing closely behind him. Malcolm
had been calm enough during the visit. He'd seemed genuinely happy to see
his former captain and had politely chatted about Jon's recent mission and enquired
about his former crewmates. At times Malcolm had almost seemed like his
old self, especially when he laughed, but there was no denying that Mentuha Prime
had left its mark. Malcolm's eyes were just a little wild, like a frightened
animal's, and his hands trembled from the drugs he was taking.
Jon declined the padd proffered by the flight attendant, he
couldn't bear to read another article about it. Jon sighed and watched the
ocean streak past far below. In a way, Rostov's recent death was partially
responsible for his visit today. A week ago Malcolm and Rostov had been
the only effected people still surviving. Now Malcolm was the only one left.
Jon shifted uncomfortably in his seat and consulted the tracking information,
still an hour until he landed in Australia. Hoshi had left Starfleet a few
years ago to start a family. She was now a quite renowned professor of linguistics
at the University of Sydney, and if Jon's grapevine could be trusted she was going
to be appointed Dean at the beginning of the new year.
"Can you imagine..."
"Must have..." The soft words caught his attention and
he looked through the gap between the seats in front of him to find that the occupants
were browsing a shared news padd. "Horrible really..." Jon closed
his eyes and tried to think of something, anything, else, but it was too late.
Memories of Mentuha Prime assailed him and he was powerless to resist.
It was just as Trip had said so many years ago, their mission
of exploration was never supposed to go so senselessly wrong. It was just
supposed to have been a banquet. A "thank-you" banquet at that. To
date that banquet had claimed the lives of four of Enterprise's first crew, and
as Rostov had shown him, there was no telling how long Malcolm would be
Enterprise had received a distress call from a colony on Mentuha
Prime. Their power grid was failing and they were in urgent need of assistance.
Jon had naturally agreed to help and after a week of hard work by several engineering
teams their power grid was stabilized, and likely to stay that way for quite some
time. The delighted Mentuhans had invited all the engineers and the senior
staff to attend a banquet in their honour before Enterprise left orbit.
Jon had accepted the invitation on behalf of his crew, a decision that would haunt
him for the rest of his life.
The report from the official Starfleet inquiry had cleared
him of any wrongdoing or negligence. Proper protocol had been followed,
all the food and drink had been scanned by the doctor and declared fit for human
consumption. Everything except for a bottle of Mentuhan liquor that had
been brought in once the party was well underway. The first sign that anything
was amiss was Ensign Cook collapsing and convulsing on the Mentuhan equivalent
of a dance floor. He was dead before they could get him to sickbay.
While Phlox was trying to figure out what had happened Crewman Kelly had started
to hallucinate. It seemed she'd become convinced she was going to suffocate
on Enterprise. In a search for more "air" she'd locked herself in launch
bay one and depressurized it. While they were cleaning that up Ensign Almack
had stormed into the galley and grabbed a knife from a startled crewman.
Chef had intervened, but had been unable to to stop Almack from fatally stabbing
himself in an effort to keep "the parasite" from "taking control" of him.
Evidently the ensign had been an avid sci-fi fan.
Crewman Rostov's symptoms had taken longer to appear, it seemed
the onset and severity were dependant upon the amount of chemical consumed.
While Cook had downed three glasses in rapid succession, Almack had drank only
one, and Rostov less than half a glass. To the Mentuhan's it was an everyday
drink additive, easily flushed out of their systems. In a human body it
bound to tissues in the brain, wreaking horrendous side effects on the individual.
To date the only method the doctors could come up with for eliminating the chemical
was removing the tissue it was bound to. A procedure that would leave the
patient in a vegetative state, if not kill them outright.
Malcolm and Rostov had been returned to Earth. Trip had
bought a house for Malcolm and himself, and Rostov had moved into Starfleet medical.
A few days ago Rostov had managed to hang or strangle, the papers hadn't been
clear, himself in a room designed to prevent just that. He'd always been
a resourceful engineer.
The shuttle touched down and Jon started back to the present.
He gathered up his carry on luggage and tried to force a smile onto his face.
It wasn't too hard, he'd been doing it for years now. The back of his mind,
however, dwelt on the two men he'd seen earlier. Jon suspected it always
Malcolm had been his usual conscientious self that evening.
He'd only consumed a few sips of the intoxicating beverage that was handed to
him, just enough to be polite. That had sealed his fate. In a way
Jon wondered if it would have been better for everyone if Malcolm had drank enough
to die like Cook. The only thing he knew for sure was that Malcolm wouldn't
be around today if it weren't for Trip.
He stopped dead. Evidently he'd managed to navigate the
station on autopilot, he was already at the pickup area. Hoshi hurried towards
him, a picture of familial bliss with her husband and daughter in tow. For
the first time Jon wondered if it was time for him to settle down on Earth.
He could get an apartment in that building around the corner from Trip and Malcolm's
place. He could go over on Sundays to watch the game with Trip. Maybe
he'd gain Malcolm's trust enough so that he could stay with him so that Trip could
go out. Jon would bet Trip hadn't seen his nephew and sister in person in
a very long time. Hoshi swept him into a hug and Jon smiled. It was
a good plan, and it just might give him his much needed peace.