Log Rhythms
By DNash

*****

Log 21
(Takes place immediately preceding, during, immediately following the events of Acquisition.)
[Rating PG]

*****

"The shuttlepod is aboard, sir," announced Lieutenant Reed from his post at tactical.

"Thank you, Lieutenant." Captain Archer turned to Ensign Sato. "Get me Commander Tucker."

"Aye, sir." She promptly opened a comm line to the shuttlepod.

"Welcome home, Trip," said Archer with a smile.

"Thanks, Captain," came the cheerful reply. "Happy to be here. It wasn't the most interesting moon I've visited, but I've got the artifact."

"T'Pol's on her way down to the launch bay now." He nodded at the Vulcan science officer who returned the nod and left the bridge. "Doctor Phlox says you're to go straight into DeCon," Archer continued.

The cheerful tone in Trip's voice faded. "You sure the bio-scan isn't good enough?"

"It's not up to me."

"All right," the engineer replied resignedly. "Tucker out." He really wanted to get a more in-depth look at the strange item he'd brought back from the lunar survey. He guessed it must be a probe of some kind, but he'd had no way of finding out until it could be analyzed properly back on Enterprise. He glanced at the object. "I'll see you later," he told it, then proceeded into the airlock.

Tucker removed his EV suit and stripped down to his blues before entering the DeCon chamber. Doctor Phlox was visible through the small window in the far wall. Trip tapped the comm panel and asked, "How long am I going to be stuck in here, Doc?"

"I believe twenty minutes should be sufficient," answered the affable Denobulan. "Make yourself comfortable." He closed the comm and the screen over the window, leaving Trip in solitude.

*****

T'Pol began her study by using her Vulcan scanner to survey the alien artifact. The structure was composed mainly of duratanium, and there was no power signature—at least not at first. As she made her examination, there was a sudden appearance of a dilithium-based power signature. T'Pol glanced up in time to see a small column rise from the center of the object's main body. With a soft hiss, what appeared to be steam began to escape from it. She kept scanning just long enough to determine what it really was.

She moved quickly. Realizing the bay's environmental controls were too far away to be of use, she reached instead for the nearby comm panel and tapped it open. "T'Pol to Engineering. Emergency. Seal off—" It was a far as she got before the gas overcame her and she collapsed to the ground.

"Engineering here," came the response over the still-active comm. "Please repeat… Sub-commander T'Pol, please repeat your order—" Then that voice, too, fell silent.

*****

"I'm telling you, we're going to be killed." Cutler looked intently across the mess hall table at her cohort.

Lawless shook her head. "You're overreacting," she replied easily. "I've known her longer than you; she doesn't hold grudges. She gets pissed off, and then she's done." She punctuated her declaration with a sip of hot coffee.

"You don't live with her. Trust me on this—she's planning something."

"She said she wasn't mad, so why would she be planning anything?"

"Believe what you want, but I know she's planning something," insisted Liz. She was about to continue when a sudden wave of dizziness washed over her. She tried to focus on Lawless but was unable to make her eyes obey her commands. Slowly she slipped to one side and came to rest uncomfortably against the bulkhead.

Across the table, Mae was having similar problems. She gave a woozy look around the mess hall and watched helplessly as each person there slumped in his or her seat. Finally, she collapsed onto the table top, her head landing just centimeters from her mug of coffee.

*****

Doctor Kyrin Douglas was alone in his office. His next appointment wasn't due for another twenty minutes, and he was using that time to review his notes on their previous session. Suddenly, he yawned. He blinked several times, trying to make sense out of the letters that were squiggling and sliding on the computer screen. The random thought crossed his mind that he'd forgotten how to read. Before the psychiatrist could puzzle it further, he fell back in his chair. Head tipped back and mouth wide open, he began to snore softly.

*****

Cormack spoke into the communicator she held. "Okay, Ian, how's that relay look now?"

There was a short pause while Ensign Young ran the diagnostic once more. "Looks good," he replied at last. "Close it up and come on out."

"Great. Be right there." Cormack closed the communicator and tucked it into a pocket. She replaced the panel in the side of the jefferies tube and tossed the tools she'd been using into their case. Without warning, her head swam. "Whoa. Headrush." She sat down heavily and leaned against the wall, waiting for the sensation to pass. It didn't. Unconscious, she slid down the wall onto her side, her cheek pressing against the cold metal grating of the floor.

*****

"Sir," said Reed, "I'm getting an anomalous reading from Launch Bay Two."

Archer looked at the lieutenant over one shoulder. "Can you specify?" he asked.

"Pinpointing now." There was a momentary pause as the readings appeared on the tactical console. "Independent power signature. Dilithium-based," he reported. "And now I'm getting a strange reading from the environmental systems."

The captain tapped the comm panel set in the arm of his chair. "Archer to T'Pol." There was no response. "T'Pol, respond." Still nothing. Archer glanced at Sato.

"Comm systems are working, sir," she answered the unspoken question.

He turned back to Reed. "Get down there."

The Bridge was about as far from the Launch Bay as you could get and still be aboard ship, but the air cyclers on Enterprise were designed for efficiency. As Archer gave his command and Reed nodded, about to comply, the gas emanating from the alien artifact reached them. Within moments the last conscious members of the crew passed out.


The crew were dreaming…

*****

T'Pol walked slowly through the grottoes of Deneva Prime. Incongruous jazz music floated in the air around her. Taking out a scanner, she attempted to pinpoint the origin of the music. It led her around steaming vents and small geysers, into and out of caves. It wasn't logical that the music should be playing; she would find its source.

*****

Travis input the coordinates for Draylax on the control console of the old J-Class freighter. He glanced out the forward port at the red giant passing on their starboard side and engaged the Horizon's Warp-One engines…

*****

Binary suns beat down on Mae as she sat in the driveway of the San Francisco home where she'd grown up. Engine parts from her dad's motorcycle were spread out around her. She was thirteen years old again, but still dressed in her Starfleet uniform. Oblivious to the incongruities, she set down her spanner and picked up an oily rag, running it carefully over the bolts in her hand.

"Mae! Mae!" Her little brother came racing across the lawn, trailing a baseball bat.

"Freeze!" she shouted, shooting him a sharp look. The boy stopped in his tracks. "If you mess this up, I'll never get everything back in place."

His eyes widened in horror. "Dad's gonna kill you if you mess up his motorcycle," he declared with the absolute certainty of a nine-year-old.

"I'm not gonna mess anything up, so just shut up. What do you want, anyway?"

"Mom's coming over."

"So?"

"So she's taking us to the Giants' game, remember? Better put that back together before she gets here," he added, pointing at the motorcycle and the bits and bobs strewn around it.

It was Giants night with mom. Mae hadn't remembered. She swore under her breath making her little brother shout, "I'm gonna tell dad you said that!" She just glared at him.

"Buzz off unless you want me to do to you what I did to this engine," she threatened angrily. And to drive her point home she added, "And I don't know how to put you back together!"

The boy considered the severity and likelihood of the threat. Finding it not impossible, he stuck out his tongue at her and ran inside the house.

"Brat," muttered Mae. She turned back to her task, knowing she had only a limited amount of time to reassemble the bike's engine.

Slowly, her face fell. She couldn't remember what to do. Her mind was telling her she'd laid everything out in a pattern; she should know how to reverse it. She didn't. Frantically, she picked up each item in turn, hoping it would spark a memory, but each time she was forced to set it back down again. She was completely at a loss.

*****

Travis input the coordinates for Draylax on the control console of the old J-Class freighter. He glanced out the forward port at the red giant passing on their starboard side and engaged the Horizon's Warp-One engines…

*****

"Elizabeth!"

"Yes?" replied the little girl, poking her head around the door to her mother's study. She looked inquiringly at the familiar stranger. Liz's dream self recognized her as her mother while on another level she knew it was someone entirely different.

"What is this?" the woman at the desk asked distastefully, pointing a well-manicured finger at a small red object.

Liz warily entered the room. It was foggy in the study, but the atmospheric oddity didn't concern her. She moved through the mist and peered where the woman pointed. "Formica incerta," the eight-year-old Elizabeth answered promptly. "Of the family Formicidae."

"Is it one of yours?"

"No, ma'am."

"Well, take it away anyway."

"All right." Liz looked for something with which to capture the tiny bug. She knew she had to get rid of the thing promptly. She spotted an empty drinking glass, carefully swept the ant into it, and turned to go.

"Where are you going?" her dream-mother demanded.

"Outside, to get rid of it," answered Liz, perplexed.

"It will just come right back in if you do that."

"I'll take it far away from the house," insisted the child. "It won't come back. Honest."

"See that it doesn't."

"Yes, ma'am."

Liz left the study, the fog trailing in ribbons behind her. Her analytical adult mind wondered just how the woman expected her to keep tabs on a single miniscule ant. The child Liz didn't care. Making certain she wasn't observed, she quickly bounded upstairs to her room and shut the door behind her, leaving the fog behind in the hallway. Carefully, gently, she shook the little fire ant out of the glass into a small aquarium lined with dirt and long grass.

"Now don't you come out of there," she jokingly scolded the bug as she secured the aquarium's lid. Ignoring her completely, the ant began to examine its new home. Liz watched it, wondering if it would survive or be eaten by the tank's regular occupant. She would watch and wait and see what the praying mantis would do to the new arrival.

*****

Travis input the coordinates for Draylax on the control console of the old J-Class freighter. He glanced out the forward port at the red giant passing on their starboard side and engaged the Horizon's Warp-One engines…

*****

Kyrin stood in an open field. The grass was as high as his waist and dotted with wildflowers—everything a bit too brilliantly colored to be real. Something was in his hand. He held it up and regarded the object closely. Black button eyes stared blankly back at him from a fuzzy golden face. It occurred to him to wonder why he had the stuffed bear. He'd given it to his niece Leia on her second birthday; what was it doing here?

Looking around, he noticed a large tree not far off. A bee's nest hung from it. Wondering if they were the right sort of bees, he took Pooh's paw and the two strolled slowly toward the tree.

*****

It was a surprisingly bright day out on English Bay. Cormack looked around the sailboat, squinting in the sunlight that reflected almost painfully off the water.

"Here," said Ryn coming up the gangplank. "Take this." She unceremoniously handed her sister a baby. The child was sleeping, so Stephanie didn't object.

"What's her name?" Stephanie asked, looking down into the face of the newest addition to the family.

"Lalita," answered Gemma who was just coming aboard. She carried a shining silver-colored cooler and was followed closely by their son, Kevin.

At the sound of her name, the child in Stephanies's arms began to squirm. "You might want to take her back," she suggested.

"Right," teased Ryn, laughing. "Wouldn't want you to have to deal with anything but a perfect child." She tossed her long brown hair over her shoulder in a habitual gesture and gathered up her daughter.

"Where's Grandma?" demanded Kevin suddenly. The four-year-old turned big brown eyes on his aunt. "Where'd she go?"

Stephanie eyed him innocently. "Gosh, I don't know. I think she's hiding. Why don't you look below decks?" In truth, she knew her mother was down in the boat's small cabin, but she also knew her nephew's favorite game was hide and seek.

The boy ran down the steps, gleefully shouting, "Grandma! Grandma!"

"Ready to go?" asked Gemma.

Stephanie looked around her. "Aren't we missing something?"

"Food, drinks, sunscreen, children," Gemma listed lightly. "Ryn, have we forgotten something?"

"Only if there's another kid somewhere I don't know about," joked her partner. They both laughed.

Stephanie wasn't satisfied. She stuffed her hands into the pockets of her cut-off denim shorts. "I still think we're forgetting something," she insisted, continuing to look around—although now they were in the boat's cabin, seated around three sides of the table. She pulled a small black and gray box from her pocket.

"What's that?" asked her sister, settling her squirming daughter to suckle hungrily at one of her breasts.

"My communicator."

"Your what?"

"My communicator," Stephanie repeated. "So the ship can contact me if there's an emergency. Or vice versa."

Ryn looked at her curiously. "What ship?"

"Well…Enterprise, of course." Her response garnered only blank looks from her sister and sister-in-law. "Here, I'll show you." She flipped the communicator open expecting to hear the normal chirp as the comm automatically connected to the ship's systems. There was only silence from the device. Puzzled but determined, she spoke into it. "Cormack to Enterprise." There was a pause. She tried again. "Cormack to Enterprise. Please respond."

Gemma gave her a concerned but sympathetic look. "Perhaps they're out of range," she suggested gently.

"No! They're there!" More frantically now, she continued to hail the ship.

"Oo!" shouted Kevin, excited. "Can I see?" He reached out, trying to get a closer look at the communicator.

Gemma intercepted his grasping arm with practiced ease. "Not right now, sweetie," she said. "Why don't you go above and help Grandma, okay?"

"Please, Mata? Pleeeeease?"

"No."

Kevin sulked but obeyed. He stomped angrily up the stairs where they heard his grandma greet him. Her cheerful tones were a stark contrast to the increasing desperation in Stephanie's voice.

Ryn and Gemma exchanged worried looks. Finally, it was Ryn who spoke. "Stephanie, put it away," she said firmly but kindly. "Enough is enough. You're going to upset the baby with your game."

Stephanie blinked at her, uncomprehending. "Game? What do you mean?"

"Please. You know there's nothing out there. Let it go."

Slowly, Stephanie began to understand. They had been humoring her, but now they had stopped. There was no ship, no Enterprise. It was all a fantasy of her own making. She looked down helplessly at the device in her hand—plastic parts, painted dials, not even a battery power source to create the little sound effects she expected to hear. Hands shaking, she closed the toy and gently tucked it back into her pocket.

*****

Travis input the coordinates for Draylax on the control console of the old J-Class freighter. He glanced out the forward port at the red giant passing on their starboard side and engaged the Horizon's Warp-One engines…

*****

It was raining in London, a cold spring drizzle. Malcolm didn't mind. He liked the way it washed the air clean and left the old buildings shining with wetness. And on top of that, the gray skies suited his mood. He zipped his jacket up to the top and hunched his shoulders against the cold and wet.

He had no particular destination in mind; he just felt the need to walk. Unable to bear the silence and emptiness of his flat any longer, he'd grabbed his coat and headed out. Turning right onto Warwick Road he bypassed the tube entrance, opting instead to wander the streets of Earl's Court.

The geography of London warped in his dream, bringing him quickly to Paddington Station. He entered the terminal and found the gate for the Heathrow Express. Resettling the single duffel bag that suddenly hung from his shoulder, he climbed aboard the shuttle and found a seat.


On the bridge of Enterprise, Reed's eyelids flickered slightly. He was draped awkwardly back over the tactical console. Where the captain had been was now only an empty chair. Sato was missing as well. Mayweather's situation was just the opposite; the helmsman's seat had been removed completely, and he was left lying on the deckplating.

Reed tried to crawl back from unconsciousness, but the anesthetic released by the alien artifact held. Unwillingly, he slipped back into the dream that was as much memory as imagination.


He was back in their flat…his flat now. Sunshine streamed through the window, catching the motes of dust that hung in the air. Malcolm looked around. To the eye, it was almost as if nothing had changed. If it weren't for one or two little differences, he could imagine he wasn't alone. The greatest difference, he realized, was the silence. It seemed to hang in the air like a tangible thing. He hadn't understood how much ambient noise his partner had generated until now. He found he missed it.

Grabbing a jacket from the rack by the door, he pulled it on and left the flat. He exited the building, stepping out into the constant drizzle of rain. He didn't mind; the gray skies suited his mood. Bypassing the nearby tube stop, he soon found himself outside Paddington Station once more.

Malcolm shouldered his duffel bag and found a seat aboard the Heathrow shuttle…


Lawless opened her eyes. It took her a moment to realize she was looking at the mess hall…and it was sideways. She raised her head, disgustedly wiping saliva from her mouth and cheek. "Ugh," she grunted, taking her napkin and cleaning up first herself and then the table.

Across from her, Cutler moaned. "Ow," she said before she'd even opened her eyes. Carefully, she pushed herself away from the bulkhead and looked at Lawless. "I don't think I can move my neck."

"What the hell happened?" wondered the engineer, glancing groggily around the room. One by one, people were waking up, each looking just as confused as she felt. Lawless was silently grateful she hadn't passed out in her coffee as she watched one crewman pull his face from a plate of linguine. Compared to that, the state in which she'd woken up didn't seem so bad. Of course, that didn't mean she was going to share that information with anyone.

"How long have we been out?" asked Cutler.

Lawless glanced at her coffee cup, took a tiny sip and made a face. "Long enough for this to be stone cold," she replied. She rose stiffly and wove her way unsteadily to the instrument panel by the door. She called up the ship's time. "Four hours." Several people looked at her, and she repeated more loudly, "We've been out for four hours."

There were a few mutters of astonishment at the news. Cutler stood and joined Lawless. "Any idea what might have happened?"

"No, but I'm going to see what I can find out. I'm heading to Engineering. If everyone's been unconscious for the past four hours, there' s no telling what state the ship's in." She spoke up again to everyone in the room. "I recommend everyone get to their posts—or get cleaned up and then get to your posts," she added wryly with a glance at the linguine-coated crewman. The young man shrugged sheepishly and nodded his agreement. "Watch yourselves. We don't know what happened, and it's possible there are hostile lifeforms aboard. Go in pairs and watch your backs."

"I better get to sickbay," said Cutler. "If everyone's in the shape we are, I think Phlox is going to have his hands full administering analgesics—and I want to be at the front of the line."

"I'll walk with you. It's on my way." Cutler looked at her quizzically. "Okay," Lawless amended, "it's not so much on my way as not out of my way. Let's go."

*****

Douglas came to and coughed. He sat up and looked around. The chronometer on his desk told him he'd been asleep for four hours. He wondered why his appointment hadn't arrived and wakened him. It was unlike the crewman to miss a session—but then, it was unlike him to fall asleep in the middle of the day.

Deciding something was definitely not right—whether with himself or with the ship, he didn't know—he rose and headed to sickbay.

*****

Slowly, very slowly, Cormack woke. She groaned slightly as she pushed herself into a sitting position. She massaged sensation back into her cheek, feeling the imprint of the grating that covered it. "Bet that's attractive," she muttered sarcastically.

She had no clue what had happened or how long she'd been lying there. Logic suggested if it were very long, someone would have come looking for her—but logic didn't know about the knock-out gas. Figuring whatever had happened couldn't be good, she grabbed the nearby toolbox and headed out of the jefferies tube.

In the Armory, others were coming to. She looked around, but didn't see Ensign Young anywhere. She couldn't know he'd been revived earlier to help in guarding the aliens who had boarded Enterprise as they returned every piece of property they had stolen.

Cormack set down the toolbox and helped crewman Martinez to her feet. "You all right?" she asked.

"Si," Martinez answered a little shakily. "What happened?"

"I wish I knew." Certain the crewman was steady on her own, Cormack stepped to the main control console and ran an internal scan of the ship's occupants. Picking up no anomalies, she turned her attention outward. Other than a fading ion trail, there was nothing out of the ordinary. Wonder what that's about? She ran another, more detailed scan of the ion trail and cross-checked it against Starfleet records. Finding nothing there, she accessed the Vulcan database. Still, she had no luck. "Weird," she muttered to herself.

*****

"Malcolm?"

Reed's eyes fluttered open, and he fought to focus on the face before him. "Trip?"

The engineer smiled. "The one and only."

Reed's brow furrowed in consternation. "Why are you wearing a science crewman's uniform?"

"It's a long story." He set down the hypospray he held and reached around the lieutenant, giving an arm of support to help him up. Reed winced at the movement. "Take it slow," advised Tucker. "You've been lying here for almost four hours."

"What happened?" the tactical officer asked, massaging the back of his neck with one hand.

"Alien raiders." Trip placed a hand on Malcolm's shoulder, caught his eyes. "You going to be okay?"

Reed started to nod, thought better of it. "Fine."

"Okay." The engineer retrieved the hypospray and moved around the deck to where Mayweather lay. However, the young man was already starting to come to when he reached him. Tucker helped him to his feet and into the helm station chair, now back in its usual place and securely bolted to the deckplating.

Something Tucker had said finally registered in Reed's bleary mind. "Did you say alien raiders?" he asked.

"Yep. There'll be a full briefing a little later, but turns out that artifact I brought back was planted on that moon on purpose." Certain that Mayweather wasn't going to pass out again, Tucker pocketed the hypospray. He leaned against the back of the tactical console, wanting to be close to Reed but not wanting it to look too obvious.

Archer entered the Bridge then, looking like he'd been through the wars.

"Captain," said Tucker, "you sure you don't want to check in with the doc?"

"It can wait." Archer stepped immediately to the unmanned comm station and opened up a line throughout the ship. "All hands, this is the Captain. I want checks run on all ship's systems and status reports from department heads as soon as possible. Command staff will meet at 0800 tomorrow morning for a full briefing of today's…unusual events. Archer out." He closed the comm and sighed.

*****

Coming back from dinner that night, ship's counselor Doctor Kyrin Douglas was surprised to find no less than three dozen messages requesting appointments with him. Understanding dawned as he found each one wanted to talk to him about a dream.

*****

End Log 21
(Completed 16 April 02)

Continued in Log 22
Return to Log Rhythms Season 1
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