Star Trek Enterprise Bk. 03 – The War Ch. 06 – Celebrities & Fan Fiction

The interruption to their game of pool had actually come from Shran. While the Andorians had pulled their support, Shran had not. He supported Archer and stood by him, just as the ‘pink skin’ had at all times done with him. He wanted to serve on board the Enterprise, at least temporarily. He had information about the Romulans and was eager to distribute it along with a few pieces of Andorian technology so the humans would be better prepared to fight against them.

This was both advantageous and suspicious. Archer would readily call Shran a friend and yet he never gave him one-hundred percent of his trust. On his own the captain believed the Andorian was loyal and honest, but one could never be certain who or what those attributes were for. While he had no doubt Shran had great respect for him, he knew from experience that his love for his home world would at all times come first. He was the same way, himself. So while he was welcomed with open arms to the Enterprise, he was not given free reign of the ship, at least not until Archer was certain of his intentions.

Shran naturally was insulted by this and had no issue telling the captain of the Enterprise his comment of it. Archer remained unmoved and even reminded his friend of the way he had double-crossed him over the Xindi weapon. He also pointed out how he had specifically told him to stay in his guest quarters while they looked into whether or not his ship had been attacked by the Tellerites and instead he tried to assassinate the delegate from Tellar. Archer made it very clear to Shran that he would have to abide by this deal until he proved himself trustworthy or discover another ship. The Andorian growled under his breath and glared at the captain, but accepted the terms… at least for now.

By February of twenty-one-fifty-seven this strange alliance would produce its first fruits, although whether it was good or bad remained a matter of perspective. Shran had never ceased to be in communication with his Andorian superior officers and there was one particular piece of intel that he wondered might be of use to Archer. There were rumors of a listening post on Vissia Prime that was taking in information on the Romulans. His advice to Archer was seek it out before enemy forces found it. The Vissians had no love for the Romulans and would make a powerful ally for Earth. They might even be eager to distribute information with the Humans regarding their common enemy.

Archer pondered this information for some time and even discussed it with T’Pol. As a Vulcan, she didn’t trust Andorians and that included Shran. What she couldn’t deny was that some of the distrust that Shran and his people had for the Vulcans might have been earned. Still, she also had to admit that the Vissians would make an excellent ally and for that reason alone it could be worth looking into. Having T’Pol agree that this lead was worth looking into bolstered Archer’s confidence in Shran’s suggestion and the captain took it to Admiral Gardner for approval. While he was in favor of the mission he did suggest that the Enterprise not go there alone just in case they were met by the Romulans.

This suggestion turned out to be prophetic. Archer led a flotilla of eight ships into the Gamma Hydra looking for Vissia Prime only to be intercepted by the Romulans. Outnumbered and outgunned, it quickly turned into a bloodbath. Five of Earth’s ships were lost and there were heavy casualties and injuries on the remaining three. The one thing that the Romulan’s had not expected was the loss of seven of their own ships. Somehow they could never fully decimate the human’s. What had stopped them this time was the surprise arrival of ten Vissan Starships. Outnumbered, they retreated, vowing to finish what they had started the next time they met.

The Vissians towed the remaining Earth ships back to their planet and to a repair facility. They offered medical aid to the injured and assistance with the dead. The listening post that they had sought in hopes of gaining intel on the Romulans had already been attacked and destroyed by the enemy rendering it completely useless. While the ship’s were being repaired, Archer, despite his own injuries, toured the medical facilities and visited the wounded. With him was T’Pol and Trip. Both had been banged up hard, but were still able to get around and help others.

Looking at the victims, Archer was quick to mention his belief that they should have acted sooner on Shran’s intel, or perhaps later… maybe not at all and then none of this would have happened. Both of his companions were quick to tell him that he had acted appropriately and was not to blame for what happened. Shran was quick to say otherwise. His narrow eyes glared at Archer from beneath his heavy white eyebrows, his antenna turned back displaying his irritation. He firmly believed that if Archer had simply trusted him, then all of the carnage would have been avoided. The captain could only silently agree.

Upon beaming back on to the Enterprise, Archer wanted to get as far away from Shran as he could for at least a few minutes. He couldn’t stand another accusing look from that powder blue face or snarling accusation. He could do that to himself just fine. Right now he needed to see how the repairs were progressing. Even that, he quickly discovered, was not going as smoothly as he hoped. Shran was still engaged in his verbal assault when Archer’s communicator went off. He opened it and was greeted by an unfamiliar voice that seemed hesitant and uncertain of what to say.

“C-Captain Archer?” the voice asked.

“This is Archer… and you are?”

“I am Oilill of Vissia Prime. I was sent to help repair your vessel.”

“Of course, what can I do for you?”

“I believe there is something wrong with one of the crewmen assigned to help us with your computer core. She seems to be having difficulty breathing and her eyes are leaking. I admit I know nothing about human physiology but….”

“On my way.” The captain needed no more information and immediately turned his back on Shran and hurried down the corridor to the lower-level computer core. He was so fixated on the situation that he never noticed his Andorian friend following him curiously. All the captain cared about was helping his crewman and believed that this was simply a case of someone not realizing just how injured they really were during the battle. What he had not expected was to discover Lt. D’Arcy hugging her knees as she sat on the floor. Her body was shaking as she took short, shallow breaths and big tears rolled out of her eyes. One of the Vissians approached him, the one who had contacted him no doubt, and began to explain further.

“She was fine until she approached the core then I’m not exactly sure what happened. All she would tell us was that her head hurt. Perhaps an injury from the battle?”

Like everyone else on board Danaë had plenty of injuries from the altercation, but they were mostly superficial including a dislocated shoulder that had been popped back into place again and was now fine. No, this was something different that had never completely gone away since the Xindi conflict. He had seen her experience moments of PTSD before, but this was by far the worst episode he had witnessed. Then again, this was the first time she had entered the computer core since the Xindi had attempted to use her to sabotage the ship

Archer looked around the area and there was only one other crewman present, everyone else was from Vissia Prime. He couldn’t see Shran hiding just out of view in the doorway listening intently with one antenna turned in the direction of his interest. The captain ordered the other crewmen to get Dr. Phlox or at least one of the other medics if at all efficient then asked the Vissians if they would mind stepping out while he tended to his ‘injured’ crewman. Carefully he knelt down and leaned in close to her and began to speak low as he put his arms around her and held her close to him.

“Dani, listen to my voice. You are stronger than this. You beat that thing a long time ago. It couldn’t hold you then and its ghost can’t hold you now. You know how to stop it.” He brought her ear inches from his lips and continued to speak low and soothingly to her. “Close your eyes and push all the air out of your lungs then allow yourself to breathe normally.” The lieutenant did as he asked as he continued speaking. “Picture your calming place, the vineyards of your father’s childhood home. You’ve shown me pictures of it before, remember? Let your mind go there now.” He could hear and feel her breath beginning to deepen. “I want you to recall the feel of the tall grass beneath your feet as you walk the lanes between the vines. Feel the breeze on your face and feel it rustling through the leaves. Taste the sweet fruit of the grapes.”

The more he described the Picard vineyards the less the lieutenant’s body shook and the deeper and more steady her breathing became. The memory of that peaceful countryside that was her father’s childhood home had at all times been her calming place even before coming to the past. It had been the same way for Captain Picard. After he had been rescued from the Borg it had been his go-to place when he needed help recovering mentally. Growing up on the Enterprise-D and E there had been times when their lives would become too demanding, too taxing then he would take her to the holodeck and they would visit the family home.

From his vantage point Shran watched the way Archer held the lieutenant and gently brushed the hair from her face. This woman, whomever she was, was not just a crewman anymore than Talas was to him. This was something that surprised him about his pink-skinned friend and he wanted to learn more. Danaë laid her head against his arm. Her breathing was typical again and she was no longer shaking.

“My head is throbbing,” she told him. Gently the captain sat her up then with his fingers he pressed gently against very specific spots on her back. He had never had even a small amount of training with neuropressure but after carrying Surak’s katra, he found he had developed a few new skills and that was one of them. Once the pressure was applied, the lieutenant gave a sigh of relief as the throb in her head subsided.

“What happened?” the captain asked.

“I don’t know. I walked in and took one look at the core and I just…” Danaë couldn’t bring herself to talk about it. She was already embarrassed that such a moment had happened at all, let alone in front of others and then to have the captain called to help her. She didn’t want him to know that she had flashed back to a moment in time when everything she was had been under the control of a creature called the yamanu. At a time like this Archer needed a strong crew that he could depend on and he couldn’t do that if he wondered she was either feeble or worse, damaged. “It doesn’t matter, it’s over anyway. I’ll be fine.”

Archer had a feeling he knew what had happened and while he certainly didn’t have time for his crew to have mental breakdowns, he couldn’t fault any of them if they did. Everything they had been through since day one would be enough to challenge the mental well-being of the most hardened soldier. Carefully he helped her up and walked her to the door. Seeing their shadows approach, Shran immediately moved to the outer corridor and continued to listen.

“A medic should be on their way and after they have checked you out I want you to report to your quarters so you can finish clearing your mind and letting your body rest. I can get our Vissian guests started on the repairs to the core.”

“I can do this,” she assured him, but the captain was not buying it.

“You are not to be in the core unless you are personally instructed to do so by me, are we clear?”

“Captain, with all due respect…”

“Are we clear?” he repeated, a touch louder and more curtly.

“Yes, captain.” Embarrassed and humiliated that the episode had ever happened, the lieutenant started to turn away. Not since the moment that infernal beast had taken possession of her body and mind had she felt so weak and ineffectual. She didn’t want Jonathan Archer to believe he had to save her at all times. She wanted to prove she could rise above it. She was on the point of leaving when to her surprise her hand was suddenly caught in his and he swiftly planted a quick kiss on her forehead. Maybe he understood more than she realized.

At the sight Shran’s antenna immediately came forward with his interest. The kiss lasted all of maybe two seconds, but it almost proved too long. Their hands had barely parted when the medic suddenly came up around the corner led by the crewman Archer had sent and the Vissian helpers. Once Lt. D’Arcy was checked out, she headed off to her quarters, unaware that Shran was making a mental note as to which ‘pink-skin’ she was. It wasn’t that he cared whether or not Archer engaged in relations with a crewman on his ship, it was just gratifying to see that the Earth captain had something beyond Starfleet in his veins.

The Andorian waited patiently in the corridor as the captain got the Vissians started on the repairs. He also had Trip Tucker send a replacement for Lt. D’Arcy while leaving out the reasons it was necessary. Once the substitute arrived, Archer left confident everything would be taken care of. In fact, their work was so good that he wasn’t sure any human engineer could compare. He never saw Shran as he walked down the corridor towards the lift to go back to the bridge, but he certainly heard his voice.

“Well, well, so the human captain is made of flesh and blood after all.” The Andorian punctuated this statement with a slight laugh as Archer turned around and looked at him. Those dark narrow eyes looked at him from beneath those heavy white eyebrows as though he finally had him by the balls.

“I’ve never pretended to be anything more than that.”

“After all the sanctimonious speeches about duty, honor and self sacrifice. The countless attempts to prove that you pink skins were somehow morally or ethically superior.”

“I never claimed to be superior to anyone.” the captain responded, but the Andorian continued without even the slightest notice.

“Never willing to give all of your trust, even to a friend who has come to your aid more than once,” Shran commented, his voice sharp and accusatory. “Yet, I bet you listen and heed the words of that female when she bats her eyes at you.”

“That female is a lieutenant on my ship and as captain I look out for all of my crewmembers.”

“Do you always hold them and kiss them?” At this question, Archer’s normally impenetrable poker face gave way to a momentary look of ‘oh shit’ that lasted about half a second before regaining his composure. Setting his jaw, Archer went over and opened the door to one of the linen storage rooms then gestured for Shran to step inside. If he must have this conversation, then it would be where no other ears were present. The Andorian strode boldly into the room, a smug smile plastered on his azure face. He had waited a long time to see Archer squirm and he intended to enjoy every minute of it.

“I don’t appreciate being followed or spied on on my own ship,” Archer began, wanting to make sure there would not be a second occurrence of this while deflecting any discussion about Lt. D’Arcy.

“I was not spying. I overheard that there was an issue with one of the crew and the commander in me simply wanted to make sure they were okay. Force of habit, nothing more.” As genuine as the Andorian wanted to seem with his hands out in supplication, the captain wasn’t buying the performance. “Of course I do still have to report to the Andorian High Command and acknowledge that Archer is protecting a compromised crewman…” Instinct rather than his will caused Archer to momentarily lash out and catch Shran by the collar of his uniform.

“Other than possessing an over abundance of unearned arrogance, I know nothing of Andorian psychology, but I can help you understand the human mind better. During the Xindi conflict there was not one man or woman on board this ship that didn’t suffer in some fashion. Even if they didn’t receive physical scars they still never returned home the same. I am not the same man I was. Some never returned home at all. She fought hard to survive and for that I am grateful.”

To his surprise, the Andorian started to laugh, a look of satisfaction blazing in his dark eyes. Thrown off by his friend’s reaction, Archer released his grip and stepped back. It was true that he was not well versed in this particular species sense of humor, but he usually followed it better than this.

“So the human female is special to you after-all. Seems we have more in common than we thought.” Shran proclaimed, but Archer could only furrow his brow slightly, unsure what his friend meant. “She is your Talas.”

Suddenly it all made sense. He had nearly forgotten about the incident on the way to Babel to start peace talks between the Tellarites and the Andorians. During a meal in the Captain’s mess, Shran unexpectedly confessed to having a romantic relationship with one of his officers, a female named Talas. Archer suddenly realized that the tables had somehow turned and the two captains were indeed more alike than they could have ever anticipated. With this knowledge, the captain relaxed and decided to take a leap of faith just as Shran had once done with him.

“In the past I never would have considered a relationship with another officer under my command.” The captain’s words echoed Shran’s from that night a few years back.

“What changed it?” Shran asked, suspecting a bit of common ground between them.

“Human women can be aggressive in their own fashion. Let’s just say she made an overture.” Archer smiled at his friend and said nothing else regarding the details. He’d let the Andorian imagine for himself what the lieutenant had done. For his part, recalling the night shortly after she was found when he escorted a drunk Danaë back to the guest quarters was one he liked to revisit. The way she had caught him by the uniform and planted a very deep passionate kiss on his lips was undeniable proof of the attraction they had felt since the first laid eyes on each other. “After that I had a choice between leaving her to wander alone on Earth or mating. I chose to mate with her.”

“You made the right decision,” Shran smiled. “However,” The Andorian continued, the smile disappearing from Archer’s face as well as his own blue lips as he continued. “After what I just witnessed I hope your desire for her is not interfering with your judgment.”

“What you saw was a snapshot, a very brief moment in time that no doubt to your species appears weak and ineffectual. Let me tell you something about Danaë. She was born in a region of space human’s haven’t even discovered yet. Exploration is in her veins. She never had to serve on this ship. In fact, she could have easily walked away to live a much easier, safer life on Earth, but she didn’t. She chose to be on this vessel. More than once she has been offered opportunities to build ships or even command her own but each time she chose to stay here. She chose me. She is as hard and strong as anyone on this ship including you. She was the one who taught me a few Andorian moves so I could fight you in your Ushaan. Do not make the mistake of underestimating her.” At this the smile returned to Shran’s face and he appeared quite satisfied with Archer’s answer.

“You have my word.”

Shran meant what he said, but he still intended to watch her. He was curious to know what kind of female she was and if Archer was accurate in his description. To do so he spent a great deal of time in the Engine room under the guise of helping and observing. This was not exactly a lie. Wherever and whenever he could he wanted to help the humans improve their technology if only to ensure his own survival. He also knew that if he was gonna spend this much time around ‘pink skins’ he would need to know more about them.

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