“Valdore may very well end up on Remus this time, Senator,” Remal growled as he paced the room.

The senator’s eyes followed him warily.  He was well aware that he may lose the admiral to exile, not that he really cared, and as much as he would like to see the admiral punished for his incompetence, he still needed him.  “I understand, Praetor,” he said, then cleared his throat to continue.  “However, Valdore could still prove to be invaluable.”

Remal stopped his pacing and turned on the senator.  “How so?” he demanded.

Vrax shifted uncomfortably on his feet.  His own survival was at stake here as well.  He didn’t want to join Valdore on Remus, and the only way he could ensure that, was to convince the praetor that Valdore, and by extension himself, was useful.  “We still need his expertise to advance our drone ship program.  Without it, our plans would be set back considerably,” he advised, hoping that the slight tremor in his voice would go unnoticed.

“He is one man, Vrax,” Remal said, taking a menacing step forward.  “Surely there are others who could take his place?”

Vrax shook his head.  “Unfortunately, Praetor, Valdore is the one with considerable knowledge.  We can’t afford to lose him,” he answered.

Vrax forced himself to remain calm as Remal started pacing again.  He hoped that what he had to offer next would see Valdore remain in his position, hence securing his own place in the senate.  He took a steadying breath.  “There is another option we can put into play,” he finally said.

Remal stopped his pacing and turned slowly back to the senator.  “And that would be?”

Vrax kept his eyes level with the praetor.  “We have a spy entrenched at the Earth warp complex.  Valdore recommends activation.”

Remal frowned.  “To what end?”

“To sabotage their warp facility.  It will limit their ability to develop increased warp capabilities, and will keep them occupied until we are ready to invade their planet.”  Vrax felt a flutter of hope start to rise when Remal’s eyes lit up at the thought of domination.  I may have just achieved my desired result and rescued myself out of this debacle.

Remal turned and walked to his window to watch over his domain.  “Do it,” he ordered.

Vrax bowed slightly. “Jolan tru, Praetor,” he replied.  As he turned to leave, Senator Vrax let a small smile of satisfaction play across his face.

* * * * * * * * * *

T’Pol let the cushion bare her weight as she sat silently in her darkened quarters.  The sound of her deep, controlled breathing resonated softly in her ears, calming the turmoil that had been spinning in her head since just before leaving earth.

T’Pol inhaled another deep breath, and the scent of sandalwood, with a hint of vanilla, met her senses.  She opened her eyes and meditated on the candle in front of her, the soft glow reflecting its warmth on her face.  The fear that had gripped her, when Trip was out of contact during his mission, still had not subsided - not completely.  Her heartbeat still raced through her veins. 

Since her addiction to trellium D, during their journey into the expanse searching for the Xindi, T’Pol had struggled to maintain even a modicum of her Vulcan control.  Doctor Phlox had done his best, working relentlessly to help her gain balance once more.  T’Pol was grateful, but despite the doctor’s best efforts, she still struggled.

When Trip had stubbornly refused to ask the captain to be excused from his mission, she had been unprepared for the onslaught of the unfamiliar feelings of helplessness and fear that had penetrated her Katra.   

Now, as she stared into the flame, her emotions having free reign, she knew she had to find a way to take control once more.  Trip needed her.

T’Pol inhaled a sharp breath when a possibility presented itself.  Should I use the bond, that links us together, to warn him of the danger?  She dismissed the idea immediately.  How could I possibly impart information when I am not entirely sure what is going on?

T’Pol continued to stare into the candle’s flame and came to a decision.  Since the dreams began, T’Pol had vowed that she would do whatever she had to do to keep Trip safe.  The only way she could think of to keep him safe, was to keep him near, and she resolved to do just that the next time they talked.

But first, she had to find a way to gain her emotional control back once again.  She closed her eyes, inhaled deeply, and sought out her white space.

* * * * * * * * * *

Archer removed his arm from his eyes at the sound of Porthos whining.  “Here, boy,” he called gently as he patted the space beside him on the bed.  Porthos needed no convincing and eagerly jumped up next to his master.  The captain smiled as Porthos circled a few times, before finding the perfect spot, settling down near his master’s hip.  As soon as he did, the captain sighed wearily and absently rubbed behind his pet’s ears.

After checking on Trip, and ensuring that the commander followed orders to get some much needed rest, the captain had retreated to his own quarters to follow his own advice.  He hadn’t had the energy to even turn the lights to low when he entered, and had only just managed to remove his boots before collapsing on his mattress.  But try as he may, and despite his fatigue, he couldn’t find sleep.

Frustrated, Archer blew a harsh breath, threw his legs over the side of the bed, and sat on the edge.  He gathered Porthos into his arms, rubbing gently behind his pooch’s ears once more.  “It’s been a tough day, Porthos,” he said quietly.

Unable to sit still any longer, Archer placed Porthos on the ground then raised himself off his bed.  He started to stretch his back, rolling his neck to ease the tension in his muscle, but stopped suddenly when his eyes fell on the book of poetry Erika had given him, before their mission began.  With his heart pounding in his ears, the captain walked slowly over to his desk.

He promised her he’d read it, he knew that, but now, as he stared at the hardback cover, he didn’t think he could even pick it up.  He took a ragged breath, and with unsteady hands, picked up the book, opening it to the first page.  He felt the sting of tears when, as he flipped through the pages, his eyes settled on the last poem Erika had recited to him, on the last night that they had found peace together.

Jon squeezed his eyes shut, and swallowed hard against the lump that had formed suddenly in his throat.  “Captain’s Legacy,” he whispered, but got no further.  He slammed the book closed, threw it on his desk, and started to pace, as if by doing so he could run from the pain that had embedded itself in his soul.

Jon didn’t see the stars that shone out his window, as he walked past, he didn’t hear the humming of the engines that droned in the background, and he didn’t feel the vibration of the Enterprise under his feet.  No, everything went unnoticed, because all he knew, all he felt, was a hole in his heart where love should have been. 

From his mat in the corner, Porthos watched closely as his master leaned against the wall, slid down, and hung his head.

The end...

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