Log Rhythms - Season Three
"Personal log, Ensign Mae Lawless, April 25th, 2153. Suddenly my problems don't seem so bad. I figured my mom marrying a chinless politician was probably the worst thing that would happen this year, and then two days after the wedding Earth is attacked. Suddenly the wedding doesn't seem like a big deal at all." Mae gave a short, mirthless laugh. "Nope. Not at all. I hope everyone at home is okay. Just because August and his family live on top of one those notorious San Francisco hills doesn't mean they'll be safe. And dad's place " She swallowed hard. Her father lived practically on the beach. The shock waves of the attack would cause worldwide devastation--undoubtedly already had. His house wouldn't last ten seconds if a tsunami hit it. "He was babysitting for August and Bekah while they were at the wedding. They'd have caught the first shuttle home the next morning, but would dad have stayed the night after they got home?" She had no way of knowing for sure. "Sure he did," she told herself firmly. "Why wouldn't he?" Half a dozen reasons came to mind, and she denied them all. "Of course he stayed. He wouldn't want to drive all the way home that night. I'm sure he's fine."
"Commander Trip Tucker, personal log, April 26th, 2153. I can't find Lizzie. I've looked through every family letter I've gotten for the last six months, and I still don't know where she was when Earth was attacked. Mom and Pop are in Ireland visiting Jake and Ailish and the kids. That's assuming they stuck to their vacation plans, and I've got no reason to think they didn't. Megan and Jose and the twins are in Peru, of course. Paul's in Minnesota; I checked the Orcas' schedule and according to that that's where they are right now. But I can't find Lizzie."
Trip paused and took a deep breath, fighting the frustration and fear that had twisted his stomach for the past two days.
"I hate this--not knowing and not being able to find out. I know Admiral Forrest's getting all the news he can to the Captain, but it's not enough. With civilian channels suspended, I can't even get a hold of anyone who might know where Lizzie is." His voice changed from the sharp edge it held to something softer, yet more painful. "She's gotta be okay. I keep telling myself she wasn't home when it happened. She could've been working on a project site somewhere. Maybe she decided at the last minute to visit Jake with Mom and Pop. Hell, she could've caught a commuter flight to Minnesota to see Paul play." He spoke with a conviction he desperately wished he felt. On this rare occasion his optimism wavered. "She's gotta be okay," he said again, willing it to be true. Silence fell in the cabin, punctuated a minute later by a reminder chirrup from the computer.
Trip looked over from where he sat on the newly installed double bunk, staring at nothing. "End recording."
"Captain Jonathan Archer, personal log, April 28, 2153. The estimated death toll has topped two million and it's continuing to rise. Every time I talk to Admiral Forrest, the number has gone up. They're estimating it'll be closer to ten by the time they're done. Ten million people. It's hard to comprehend numbers like that--even for someone who works on a scale of light years and warp speed."
Jon rose from his desk and sat on the edge of the bed, patting it so Porthos would leap up beside him. The dog didn't need the encouragement. Jon pulled Porthos close to him and petted the dog affectionately as he went on.
"I crossed a line today when I was talking with the Admiral. As a Starfleet officer I shouldn't have done it, but as a friend I had to. I asked him to keep watch for word of Trip's little sister, Lizzie. As if he doesn't already have enough to deal with But I asked him anyway. Anyone else would have told me I was out of line. Hell, I was out of line. Admiral Forrest didn't even blink. He said he'd do what he could.
"Computer, end recording."
He looked down at Porthos who had snuggled up right onto his lap. Usually he stayed to one side, pressed up as close to Jon as he could get without being on top of him. Tonight was different. The beagle seemed to sense this wasn't an ordinary situation. He turned woeful eyes up at his master and unexpectedly licked Jon's cheek.
Jon gave Porthos a melancholy smile. "Good boy." He flolloped the dog's ears.
Porthos barked once, happy to have cheered him at least a little.
"Lieutenant Malcolm Reed, personal log, 30th April 2153. I'm worried about Trip. He's been awfully quiet since news of the attack on Earth. I know he's concerned about his sister, but whenever I ask him about it he just waves me off. Invariably he'll make an excuse not to discuss it. As often as not he claims he has to be somewhere and just leaves the room. The one time I brought it up late at night " Malcolm paused, remembering the unpleasant conversation followed by the fitful night's sleep. " I was surprised he didn't get out of the bed right then and head off to engineering." He paused again, hesitant to admit his next thoughts even to himself. "A part of me almost wishes he had, but it wouldn't have helped either of us sleep better. Not even the new bed helps with that. I'm afraid he won't sleep well until he knows whether or not Lizzie is all right, and if she isn't " He trailed off again. "He's not behaving like himself, so I can't predict what he might do. I don't like not knowing. I can't plan if I can't understand."
Malcolm had thought several times since the attack how he might feel if he were in Trip's situation. If Maddy were missing, and he was unable to find out whether she was alive or dead, what would he do? How would he feel? He hated even to imagine it, but he tried. If it meant he could help his lover deal with whatever might come, he had to. He shuddered.
"Computer, end recording and seal with advanced personal code 'Reed Alpha'."
"Personal log, Ensign Stephanie Cormack, first of May 2153. It's Beltane, and I feel like celebrating not at all. How sad is that? One of my two favorite Sabbaths and I don't even feel like lighting a candle, let alone celebrating properly. I should do something. If I just start, I bet it would be fine. But I can't get motivated. I suck." It wasn't just her lethargy about Beltane that brought out that thought. She'd spent days denying what was truly bothering her, and she wasn't going to think about it now. "Computer, end recording."
Stephanie rose from her bunk and crossed to her locker. She took out a well-used pillar candle and contemplated it for several moments before finally returning it to the shelf and shutting the locker door. "I suck."
"Science Officer's log for May second, 2153." T'Pol spoke in her usual even tone, although anyone who knew her well could have heard the tension in it. Fortunately, she was alone in her quarters. "I spoke with Ambassador Soval directly today for the first time since the attack on Earth. He informed me that the humans intend to strike back as soon as they have definitively identified those responsible. The Ambassador believes Enterprise's return to Earth is a logical time to discuss what he called 'the next stage of my career with the Vulcan High Command'. I agree. The discussion should prove fascinating."
"Ensign Travis Mayweather's personal log for May third, 2153. I'm doing it tonight. I've already waited longer than I'd planned to because of the attack. But I'm not waiting any longer. I'm going to do it tonight over dessert--if I can wait until dessert. End recording."
Travis sat back in his chair and picked up the small black box from his desk. He peeked inside it one more time, even though he could picture its contents in perfect detail just by closing his eyes. He hoped all the times he'd practiced were enough. The last thing he wanted to do was forget what he wanted to say, or lose his balance as he got down on one knee, or drop the box when he tried to open it and hand it to her.
It's now or never. He rose. Slipping the box into the pocket of his charcoal gray slacks, he smoothed the front of his dark purple shirt and took one last look at himself in the mirror. Then he headed out to meet Liz for dinner.
"Personal log of Ensign Liz Cutler, May third, 2153." She glanced at the bedside chronometer. "Make that May fourth," she corrected herself. She looked down at the ring on her left hand. It was small, but sparkled brightly. "I wish Stephanie was here. I need someone to tell me I've done the right thing. My mom once told me that if you have to think about your answer when someone asks you to marry them, then your answer should be no. I said yes to Travis without thinking, so I should be right, right? But now I'm not sure. Maybe I should have taken a moment to think, but if that's the case, then maybe I should have said no." She let out a frustrated growl. "I wish Stephanie was here!" Another idea occurred to her. "I bet Phlox is up." She sat down on her bunk and pulled on a pair of slippers over her bare feet. They looked silly with her blue silk dress so she grabbed her bathrobe from her locker. "Computer, end recording," she said, as she slipped into the robe and tied the belt around her. She shut off the lights and left the cabin.
"Dear Doctor Lucas," Phlox began, "I have no idea when you'll receive this letter, but I'm sure you eventually will. It's nearly time for me to hibernate, and by the time I wake up we'll be back at Earth. After that, it's anybody's guess when I'll be able to send another letter, so I'm afraid you won't be hearing from me again for a while.
"I am now more pleased than ever that you decided to remain on Denobula for an extended period. I trust that you're well. I recall that you have a sister residing in Bombay, India. Hopefully you've heard from her by now, and that she and her family are safe. I can only imagine how terrifying this is for every human being, whether or not they were on Earth at the time of the attack."
He leaned forward, lacing his fingers together and resting his forearms on the sickbay counter. "In the midst of all this horror, I almost feel guilty sharing my good news. But I expect everyone could use a pick-me-up right now. One of my staff members is getting married. I expect you remember me telling you about Liz Cutler before, but I'll remind you just the same. She's primarily an entomologist and exobiologist. However, she's been studying both human and Denobulan medicine since shortly after we left space dock. She's a remarkable pupil," he said, smiling proudly. "But I digress. She's asked me to 'give her away' at the wedding. Being unfamiliar with the custom, I was dubious at first, but Liz assures me it will be 'a breeze'. Apparently I'm to walk her down the aisle of the courtroom, and then simply stand near by. I feel very honored since I learned this is a role usually played by the bride's father. I'm quite excited about it. Hm," he grunted thoughtfully. "It reminds me of a story from my second wife, Feezal's, third wedding." He waved a hand in the air as if brushing away the memory. "But that's a story for another time. Until then, I remain your friend Phlox."
"Ship's Counselor's log, May eighth, 2153. Subject: Ensign Ian Young. I am impressed and pleased with the progress Ian's making. However, I'm also cautious. While I don't doubt his sincere desire to 'fix things', as he puts it, I'm concerned that he's trying to do too much too quickly. Lessons learned in haste are soon forgotten, as the old adage goes. I hope this is the exception to it." Kyrin looked at the chronometer in the corner of his computer screen. "Ian and Ari have their fourth joint appointment in a quarter of an hour. That situation is progressing slowly and steadily. I believe their friendship is mending and will likely grow stronger than ever." He paused, hoping his optimism wasn't talking over his professional good sense. He decided the evidence showed that it wasn't. The ensigns were indeed working out their differences, if a bit uncertainly at first. He had no doubt that their relationship could and would be salvaged. His expectation for Ian's career in Starfleet was less positive, however.
"Computer, close file. Begin new. Subject: crewman Juliana Martinez." He paused again, formulating what he wanted to say. "I've spoken with her in session twice since the attack on Earth, and I'm concerned. Her psych profile shows her as very stable, but with her family situation so uncertain she's become somewhat unstable. She hasn't shown signs of becoming at all volatile. Rather the opposite. She's lethargic and easily distracted. I expect it will get worse the longer she goes without word of her family, and the rising death toll reports are far from helpful," he added, a touch of disgust entering his voice. He appreciated the need for facts, but when there were so few and those few were nothing but bad news, he felt no news would be better news. "Unfortunately, all of her immediate family except for one cousin live in Puerto Rico, and the chances that any of them survived the after-effects of the attack are slim. She knows that, but is naturally reluctant to accept it without proof." Kyrin sighed wearily. "I'm afraid she, and millions of others, will never know exactly what happened to their loved ones."
The door chimed, and Kyrin realized it was time for his next appointment.
"Computer, end recording. Seal with primary medical confidentiality code." He took a moment to clear his thoughts, and called up the file on Ian and Ari's last visit. "Come in," he called.
"Twelfth May 2153, Ensign Bonnie Fraser's personal log. Stephanie's starting to piss me off. It's nothing she's said or done. It's what she's not saying. Everyone's pretty weirded out. Big surprise with reports of over five million killed in the attack last month--and that's just from the initial blast. Once they add in everyone killed by the resultant shock waves, earthquakes, and tsunamis and everything, who knows how many there'll be? But I don't think that's what's bugging her. She talks about her family like she did before. It doesn't sound like she's too worried about them. Sure Vancouver's on a coast, but it's a pretty well protected coast, if I remember my geography right. Even more protected than Inuvik is. Although it is on that Pacific Rim of Fire. How far away from Vancouver is the nearest dormant volcano?" she puzzled aloud. Then she shook herself back to her point. "Anyway, I don't think that's what's bugging her. I know she didn't celebrate Beltane this year, and I think that's not good. We did celebrate my birthday, as much as you can celebrate anything in the circumstances." Bonnie thought back to the quiet, subdued night they'd spent together just over a week ago. She shook her head. Not exactly how I wanted to spend the time, she thought a little bitterly. But she couldn't blame Stephanie for that, at least not entirely. Everyone was on edge these days--even people like Bonnie who had no friends or relatives anywhere near Florida and the Caribbean. Hell, even Travis is freaked out, and as far as I know his entire family lives off-world. I guess all it takes to be upset about this is to be human. What a shitty reason for a species to unite. Bonnie wondered if this was what it had been like when the Vulcans first landed on Earth. Had humanity been drawn together by that momentous event as it seemed to be drawn together now by the attack?
The computer chirped at her, and she jumped. Her mind wandered a lot these days, and she didn't like it. "Right. Stephanie," she muttered, gathering her strayed thoughts once again. "I'm going to find out what her problem is if it takes the entire trip back to Earth. End recording." The computer chirped its compliance. "It better not take that long," she added to herself.
"Lieutenant Malcolm Reed, personal log, 17 May 2153. We've all seen the images of the destruction caused by the attack. It seems impossible that Trip's sister survived it. I can't possibly say that to him, of course. But he must realize it's true. I've given up trying to talk to him about her for now. I hope he'll decide on his own to talk to me, but I'm afraid he won't. I don't know what else to do but wait and be here for him."
Malcolm shook his head and paced the cabin he and Trip shared. Not for the first time, he wondered if they'd made a mistake by living together. He told himself this was for the best. Uncomfortable as the atmosphere of their quarters had been over the past three weeks, Malcolm knew it was better that he was here. Trip could hide from him in engineering for long periods of time, but eventually he had to sleep. When he did, Malcolm made sure to be there. He didn't always say anything beyond "Good-night", but he hoped that Trip knew just from his presence that Malcolm was there for him--physically and emotionally--when Trip finally decided to open up.
A chirrup from the computer reminded him it was waiting for him to go on.
"In more cheerful news, Travis asked me to be the best man at his wedding to Liz Cutler. Needless to say I was flattered. I'm a little dubious about taking time away from the weapons upgrades, but if I can't spare an hour or two for a friend's wedding, then I'm no kind of friend. End recording."
As the computer chirped its compliance, another thought struck Malcolm. I've been so concerned about Trip that I haven't been thinking enough about members of my own staff. That's hardly the way a C.O. should behave, he chided himself.
"Computer, begin recording. Armory Officer's log, 17 May 2153. There's been good and bad in the armory lately. Ensign Young has thrown himself into his work quite zealously. It's almost disturbing, but the progress reports I've gotten from Doctor Douglas assure me that it's a perfectly natural reaction to his situation. Unfortunately, since previous reports said that his earlier behavior problems were also natural under the circumstances, I take little comfort from any of it.
"That's the good," he said, irony coloring his tone. "The bad is crewman Martinez. She hasn't missed a shift or done anything wrong, but I don't feel confident leaving her to cover the armory alone even on Gamma-shift these days. She seems to be having trouble focusing on even routine maintenance. I can't have that. I need my entire team at top efficiency now more than ever before. I can't imagine what might happen if we were attacked when she was the sole crewmember manning the armory. I understand that she's worried about her family, but I need her to focus on her work and I told her so. I had hoped that focusing on work might help her get through until she hears from her family. I'm afraid it isn't." He shook his head again, remembering the conversations he'd had with the youngest, greenest member of his team. Martinez had never let him down, but in her current state of mind he was afraid she could become a danger to the ship's security. He didn't believe she would do anything to cause a threat, only that she wouldn't be prepared should a threat present itself, either in the form of an attack or a malfunction. He'd tried to encourage her while at the same time stressing the gravity of the situation. He suspected his words had little impact. "I've already adjusted the schedule so that there's always someone on shift with her. If she doesn't receive word from home soon, I'm afraid I'm going to have to remove her from duty. I don't want it to come to that.
"Finally, Ensign Cormack has also been unusually lethargic lately. To my knowledge she knew no one in the attack zone, although I believe her family live in a coastal area. I'll speak to her about it if I don't see any improvement in the next few days.
"Computer, end recording."
"Ship's Counselor's log, May 20th, 2153. Subject: Commander Charles Tucker. I spoke with Doctor Phlox shortly before he began hibernating about the Commander's current situation. According to Phlox, Trip has come to him several times for medication to help him sleep. Phlox has provided it, and presumably Ensign Cohn has followed suit. Side note to myself, I need to ask Ari about that. Phlox said he stressed to Trip that medication is not a long-term solution, and recommended that he speak to me about it. So far, he hasn't. Acupressure treatment would undoubtedly be helpful. Unfortunately none of our medical staff has those qualifications, and we're unlikely to be assigned anyone who does. According to T'Pol's file, she's trained in Vulcan neuropressure. It's a shame it won't work on humans. Our physiology is too different." Kyrin paused, shaking his head in tired frustration.
"Computer, close file. Begin new. Subject: Ensign Ian Young. I'm very pleased with the progress Ian has made, both individually and with Ari. Ian's willingness to face up to his past mistakes and find ways to repair the damage done wherever possible is heartening. Of course not all mistakes can be undone, and he is finding ways to deal with that as well." He smiled. Ian's progress reminded him just why he loved his chosen profession. If only I could do as much to help some of the others, he thought with a bit of melancholy. "Computer, close file. End recording and seal with primary medical confidentiality code."
"Personal log, Ensign Stephanie Cormack, twenty-first of May 2153. Malcolm stopped by just now. He said he's worried about me--as my C.O. and as my friend. He was so sincere that I almost told him the truth. I really wanted to, but he'd never understand. I think I managed to convince him that I'm okay--that it's just the stress of not knowing what's going on back home that's bugging me." Stephanie sat heavily on her bunk. "In a way, it's true. So at least I didn't lie to him outright." It was a fine line, she knew, but she walked it boldly. "It would've been nice to tell someone, though. But on the other hand I can only imagine how his opinion of me would have plummeted to new depths. Mae might understand, but she's got her own problems." She deliberately allowed herself to wander away from her original topic. It was easier that way. "She's really worried about her dad, although she hasn't said so in so many words. I can tell, though. I saw his house that time we went and visited him one weekend on a break from Starfleet training. I'd bet anything that house is pretty much wiped out now. I hope he wasn't there." She glanced at the bedside chronometer. "I think I'll see if she wants to get some dinner. Computer, end recording."
"Captain Jonathan Archer, personal log, May 24th, 2153. One month since the attack, halfway home, seven million estimated dead. And we still don't know for certain who attacked Earth or why. There's been plenty of speculation, but nothing supported by evidence. Not that there's much evidence to go on." Jon scrubbed tired eyes with the heels of his palms. As weary and frustrated as he was, he knew it must be worse for Admiral Forrest back home. "At least he has something to do," he muttered, and then remembered the computer was recording him. "Computer, delete that last sentence." He heard the chime that said it was done. "Starfleet is still working to recover debris of the weapon. Signs indicate it was programmed to fire and then self-destruct. They've narrowed down the list of species it couldn't be, but we need a stroke of extremely good luck if we're going to figure out who did this.
"Admiral Forrest said limited civilian communications will resume by the end of next week. Hopefully that'll mean a big download of mail for the crew. In the meantime," he said, heavily, "he forwarded a message from Trip's parents--completely against protocol, as he reminded me. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I don't know if I'm going to give it to Trip. I don't know what the letter says. Good news or bad, he has a right to hear it. But can I, in good conscience, give it to him when there are other people aboard who deserve to hear from home just as much as he does?" Jon recognized the fruitlessness of worrying about his conscience at this stage of the game. He'd already done more for Trip than he should have as his Captain. But I'm not just his Captain, he argued with himself. I'm his friend.
It didn't make him feel any better. He knew crewman Martinez was missing family members--more of them than Trip was missing--and she wasn't the only one. Are they any less deserving of my help than Trip? No, he answered himself immediately. But he knew even as he thought it that what they did or didn't deserve was irrelevant. "Computer, end recording."
He opened a comm line and hailed Trip.
"Communication Officer's log, June first, 2153. Civilian communications have been reinstated to a limited degree, and we received a huge mail dump overnight. Ensign Donnelly spent four hours uploading the communiqués and running the sorting program, and he still wasn't done when I came on shift this morning." Hoshi double-checked the time before going on. "It's now 1014 hours, and the sorting is complete. Sending communiqués now." She typed a command into her console and waited until all the mail was distributed. It took longer than it ever had before. "Communiqués sent. End log."
She glanced around the bridge. She knew that Travis and Malcolm had heard her; she'd made no to attempt to hide what she was doing. She was impressed by how calm both men appeared, even knowing that they likely had news from friends or relatives waiting for them. Hoshi admired their restraint.
A quick glance behind her told her that T'Pol was absorbed in her own work. Hoshi turned back to her console. She placed her receiver in her ear as she always did when she expected incoming communications. But instead of tuning into a Starfleet frequency, she opened up her first letter from home.
"Personal log, Ensign Mae Lawless, June first, 2153." Mae swallowed hard before going on. "I was right. Dad was at August's during the attack, which is good because August said Dad's house was wiped out by flooding. So I was right about that, too." She took no pride in her deductive skills. She choked down a lump in her throat, and went on. "I was so worried about Dad, I forgot all about Mom and her chinless politician. Isn't that nuts?" A hint of hysteria tinged her voice. "I knew the wedding was in Fort Lauderdale, but I knew they were leaving immediately for their honeymoon, so I didn't think about it. I didn't think about the fact that they were going on a Caribbean cruise. One of those small, charter deals with, like, a dozen other couples." She pulled a tissue from the pocket of her pajamas and used it to wipe her eyes. "I don't know why I'm so upset. We never got along." But in her heart she knew. No matter that she hadn't seen her mother in nearly four years and had only very sporadically corresponded with her. She was still her mother. She was still the woman who had taken Mae to countless Giants' games, the woman who had bought Mae her very first real toolkit when she was seven. "They found the ship on what's left of Hispaniola. I guess that's the only Caribbean island that wasn't completely swamped, I don't really know. Guess I'm still kind of in shock; I don't remember everything August said in his letters." She'd gotten two from her brother. "I'll have to play them again. They say it got thrown there by a tsunami--or maybe by a series of them. Of course, everyone aboard was dead. From the impact or something." She paused again, still stunned by the news from home, and at a loss for what more to say. Unexpectedly, she thought not of her mother, but of Franklin Ostram, the chinless politician Mae had only ever seen in a single photograph. "I wish I'd met the guy at least once," she said. "Computer, stop recording."
She pulled her bare feet up onto the chair and wrapped her arms around her knees. She rocked back and forth a little, tears running unheeded down her cheeks. Suddenly she sobbed once, let her head fall onto her knees, and wept.
"Personal log, Ensign Stephanie Cormack, second of June 2153. I heard from Ryn. They're all okay. Her, Gemma, mom, the kids. Even the cat. They're all good." Stephanie rose from the desk and wandered the small cabin aimlessly. Her tone was flat and unemotional as she continued. "Vancouver Island's a mess, the family sailboat's shot to hell, and a freak hail storm busted up the university's greenhouses, but they're already repairing the damage. All in all, Vancouver's gotten off pretty light. Better than most coastal cities. I don't think there's a coast on the planet that didn't get hit with flooding or worse.
"Mae got word that her mom was killed. I don't know how to help her. She never liked the woman, and I never met her, so I guess I can just be around in case she needs me for anything. I mean, I know what it's like to lose a parent unexpectedly, so I dunno maybe I can help." She shrugged, even though the recording was audio only. "Even though I've kind of been through the same thing, it's really not the same at all. At least they found her mom's body, eh? That's more than they've been able to do for Martinez so far, or for Commander Tucker. That's more than we ever got back of my dad." She paused, almost surprised at how much that fact still hurt.
"I've done more yoga in the past month than I did in the previous three. But I can't get my heart into it. I keep telling myself it's helping even if I can't feel it in anything but my muscles. I don't know. Maybe. At least it can't hurt to keep at it--except the muscles." The quip fell flat even on her own ears.
"Bonnie's pissed off at me," she went on, abjuring coherence for stream of consciousness. "It's my fault. I suck.
"Computer, end recording."
"Personal log, Ensign Ari Cohn, fourth of June 2153. I feel like the world's gone crazy and I'm the only one still sane. Liz and Travis are getting married as soon as we get home. Liz told Phlox about it right away; I heard it from Travis over beers. Ian thinks they're both nuts, but for once he didn't say that to them, only to me. They both want a ceremony with family, but that'll have to wait until I don't know when. The word is we'll be deployed almost immediately after we get back--assuming Starfleet knows by then where to send us. So they're planning a quick civil ceremony in San Francisco."
Ari glanced at the chronometer on the desk. It was nearly time for him to go on duty. With Phlox hibernating, Ari was temporarily in charge of sickbay and he'd made a habit of getting there early. But there was more he wanted to record. I'd better be quick, he thought. I can fill in the blanks later.
"I went to see Mae as soon as I heard she'd lost her mom in the attack. Liz told me about it the morning after we got the big mail download. I don't know if I was any help. I didn't say anything, and neither did Mae. She just cried and I just held her. I feel so helpless. If I could, I'd make everything okay again for her, but that's impossible. Maybe Doctor Douglas can help her. He's helped Ian and me a lot. I expect his schedule is getting busier by the hour," he concluded sadly. "Recording end. Seal with privacy code Cohn-zed-zero-one."
Ship's Counselor's log, June sixth, 2153. Subject: Lieutenant Malcolm Reed. Malcolm came to see me the other day. He's understandably concerned about a number of people. Primarily, though, he came to discuss Commander Tucker. He hoped I could suggest some way he could help Trip deal with the loss of his sister. Malcolm confirmed what I already knew from Doctor Phlox--that Trip isn't sleeping well. He added that what little sleep Trip does get usually ends in nightmares, which he won't discuss. I made some suggestions, but I told Malcolm that this isn't a problem he can fix. Trip has to be willing to face his loss and until he is, there's nothing either of us can do to force him." Kyrin's tone was resigned as he went on. "I recommended that he talk to Trip and suggest he come see me. I doubt Malcolm will have any luck, but there's always a chance. Computer, close file. Begin new. Subject: Ensign Ari Cohn."
Kyrin sat back and laced his fingers together over his stomach. "Ari has been in charge of Sickbay for three weeks now, and I'm very impressed with his handling of the situation. The last time Phlox hibernated, it was an abbreviated hibernation and the ship was under relatively safe and calm conditions." He smiled at his own memory of shore leave on Risa. "As I do with Phlox, I've been meeting with Ari on a weekly basis to discuss the overall physical and mental health of the crew. Generally and not surprisingly their physical health is rather better than their mental health right now. Considering the current circumstances, however, things could be much worse. Computer, close file."
He considered for a moment before opening another. "Begin new. Subject: crewman Juliana Martinez. Juliana still hasn't received word from her family. The possibility that she never will is strong. Right now it's the not knowing that is causing her stress. Although the news is almost certainly going to be bad, I hope she hears from someone back home soon. At least then she might have some answers.
"Computer, close file. End recording and seal with primary medical confidentiality code."
"Commander Trip Tucker, personal log, June seventh, 2153." Trip's tone was tired, and not just because he'd had yet another poor night's sleep. "No one's heard from Lizzie since before the attack. Everyone else has checked in with the folks, but not Lizzie. I suppose there's still a chance," he went on, trying with all his heart and soul to believe it. "Communication's been sporadic all over the world. It's possible that she's somewhere they haven't gotten it fixed yet." He knew the chances were terribly slim, but he held onto the idea for all he was worth.
"Lieutenant Malcolm Reed, personal log, eighth June 2153. I received a letter from my mother. I shouldn't be surprised. Letting me know she and Father are still alive is just the sort of considerate thing she would do. I should give her more credit," he scolded himself. He sat back in the desk chair and forced himself to admit the truth. "I was pleased to hear from her. I was worried about them both. Malaysia may be half a world away from Florida, but there was still bound to be devastation throughout the region. So much lost," he went on heavily, "but at least she and Father are still alive. That's more than can be said for seven million others.
"She said there would be a worldwide memorial for all those lost, as well as all the regional and personal services that are being held. One minute of global silence. It seems like so little--a symbolic gesture at best, but at least it's something. I don't think Trip will even allow himself that much. He's become so closed off. And I know what closed off looks like," he added with bitter familiarity. "I've actually gone so far as to speak to Doctor Douglas about it, but he made it clear that without Trip's consent there's only so much he can do to help.
"I wish Trip would talk to me--or Doctor Douglas or Captain Archer, even," he added with a hint of desperation in his voice. "I'm trying to be patient. I don't know what else to do." It was a phrase that he felt had been far too prevalent in his log entries of late. "I can't force him to mourn. Computer, pause recording."
Malcolm rose and stretched. He checked the time--nearly 2200 hours, and Trip still hadn't returned from engineering. He frowned. Finish your log, and then go find him, he told himself. Trip might not welcome his intrusion, but Malcolm could always use the excuse that Trip needed to eat something. He didn't like reverting to mother-hen mode, but he would do it if that were what was needed of him.
He waited for the chirp that told him he was no longer being recorded before adding pessimistically, "Assuming there is a next time."
"Acting Chief Medical Officer's log, Ensign Ari Cohn, eleventh of June 2153." Ari had to pause. Even after nearly a month, he wasn't used to hearing himself say those words. It made him both proud and a bit nervous every time. "Subject, Ensign Cormack." He'd been very surprised to see her walk--or rather limp--through the door to sickbay that afternoon. "Arrived with a strained left hamstring due to, in patient's words, 'too much yoga'. Provided anti-inflammatory and analgesic, and advised her to take it easy for a few days and avoid any strenuous activity for a week. If I see her back here, I'll know for sure she didn't listen to me." Whether she returned or not, he knew Phlox would appreciate his comments when he reviewed the medical logs. It was no secret that Cormack was the worst patient on the crew. "End log."
"Hoshi Sato's personal log, June 13th, 2153. I just had a visit from Ian." She'd been shocked when he'd shown up at her door. Since the New Year, the two had hardly spoken outside of the rare occasions when their work paths crossed.
She sat down on her bunk as she continued. "He asked how I was doing, and if my parents were all right. I told them they were okay. There was some damage to the house and the property around it, but all in all they got off pretty easy. I asked him about his brother and the ranch. He actually smiled a little when he said he'd gotten a one-sentence note from Brady. 'Everything's a mess, but we'll get over it.' I remember him telling me once that his brother's not a big talker." She smiled a little, too, imagining Brady's thought process. Really, what more did Ian need to know, right?
"It was nice talking to him," she went on, mildly surprised to realize it was true. "We just talked for a few minutes like Well, not like nothing had ever happened between us." There was cynicism and a hint of sadness in her tone as she spoke those words, but her next were tinged with hope. "It was more like old friends getting to know each other again. It was awkward, but it felt good."
"Fourteenth June 2153, Ensign Bonnie Fraser's personal log. I'm gonna kill something. Mae's a wreck. I think I'm the most selfish bitch ever for thinking this, but she's kind of driving me a little nuts. I've never lost anyone that close to me, so I don't have a clue what she's going through. I'm trying to be the good, supportive friend, but I don't know what I'm doing. Stephanie should be the one helping her, but she's so self-absorbed lately that I doubt she even knows what's going on." Bonnie paused and took a deep, calming breath. "That's not fair. She has been there for Mae. I know she has. I'm just jealous because I feel like she hasn't been there for me." She gave a snort of disgust. "Miss Selfish Bitch 2153, that's me. But it's not all my fault," she went on defensively, not bothering to wonder why she was defending herself to herself. "Something's up with Stephanie and she won't tell me what the hell it is! I know her family is okay, just like mine is. We're both very lucky that way. Okay, so, great. So what is it that's bugging her so much that she won't even talk to me about it?"
Bonnie fell silent for a moment, thinking. She continued before the computer could chirp at her. "I keep remembering the migraine she had the morning we heard about the attack. I wonder if she's made the connection that the two hit at the same time. If she has, I bet that's at least part of the problem." That wasn't what bothered Bonnie, though.
She went on in a quieter but no less tense voice. "She said she loves me. Okay, she was on a lot of pain meds at the time, but she said it. And I said it back. I meant it when I said it. Not only do I not know if she meant it, I don't know if she even remembers it." Suddenly Bonnie couldn’t hold it all in any more. She violently slammed her hand down on the panel, ending the log entry with a literal bang. It helped, but not enough, and her lips curled back in a disgusted snarl. "Fuck! Just fuck!"
"Captain's log, June 19, 2153. We got our stroke of luck. Retrieval units pulled a body from one of the larger pieces of wreckage. Apparently the weapon wasn't entirely automatic. The cockpit wasn't strong enough to save the pilot's life, but it was enough to keep his body intact and relatively well-preserved, despite being badly burned. Finally we're able to see the face of our enemy. Now if only we can put a name to them. We'll be home in less than two weeks. Hopefully Starfleet will have identified them by then."
"Sub-commander T'Pol's personal log for June 19th, 2153. I had another interesting conversation with Ambassador Soval today. Starfleet discovered the body of an unidentified alien. They believe it to be the pilot of the weapon that attacked Earth. I agree with the Ambassador that this is the logical conclusion. However, the body has only raised more questions, as it is a species unknown to both humans and Vulcans. The mystery intrigues me. The complete anonymity of the alien implies that the attack was random, while the precision of the attack itself suggests great deliberation." T'Pol paused for a moment. "As puzzling at it is, I find it more comfortable to think about than Ambassador Soval's other reason for contacting me. He expects me to leave Enterprise. I'm sure from his point of view it's the most logical action. My challenge will be in making him see the logic of my own point of view." A wry note crept into her voice. "Particularly as my point of view is in direct opposition to his."
"Captain's log, supplemental. I had a run-in with Silik today. More accurately, he abducted me and took me to visit his boss. He told me a lot about who attacked us and why, although I'm hard pressed to believe any of it." He paced his ready room. He knew he would have to discuss what he'd learned with T'Pol very shortly. He wasn't looking forward to it. "But I don't have much choice. The information he gave me is the only lead we have, and if it squares with the debris and the body our people found " He trailed off. "Computer, end recording." The rest was obvious. "Now I just have to convince T'Pol."
"Twenty-first June 2153, Ensign Bonnie Fraser's personal log. I've had my keyboard out a lot lately. It helps, but not as much as I'd like it to. Usually I can just sort of lose myself in whatever I'm playing, but with everything that's going on I can't seem to keep my mind on anything, not even music. It sucks rocks. I think Mae appreciates me playing, though. She's having a hard time dealing, and I think it helps her when I pull out the keyboard and just play. She seems to like the J.C. Bach a lot, so I've been trying to play his stuff, but there's not that much for piano so I've been playing J.S., too." Bonnie's tone grew softer. "That alone makes it worth the effort, eh? Even if it's not doing much for me, at least it's something I can do for her." But who's doing anything for me? she thought, and then shook her head at herself angrily. Selfish bitch. "Computer, end recording."
"Personal log, Ensign Stephanie Cormack, twenty-third of June 2153. Another Sabbath gone by and I did nothing to note the occasion.
"Things are crazy in the armory. We've gotten all sorts of data on the new weapons systems we're getting when we get home--specs on upgrades to the hull plating and the targeting scanners and everything. We're getting something called photonic torpedoes, apparently. Those actually sound pretty cool from everything I've heard and read. We're all working overtime to do what we can at this end to be ready for the engineering teams when we get there. The Lieutenant wants everything at 'top efficiency'. I swear if I hear him say 'top efficiency' one more time, I'm gonna lose it."
As she spoke, she unbraided her hair and ran her fingers though it, freeing the somewhat ragged curls. "Liz asked me to stand up for her at her wedding when we get home. Of course I said I would. The ring Travis gave her is tiny but gorgeous. She said it was his grandmother's. Apparently he's been planning this since around New Year's, and he got the ring from his mom while he was on the Horizon. Family heirlooms are so romantic," she sighed wistfully, smiling a little.
"I've hardly seen Liz since Travis proposed. She stays with him most nights, although she hasn't technically moved in. They'll get assigned larger quarters once they're married, and there's no point in moving her stuff twice. Of course, that means I'll get assigned a new bunkmate when we ship out," she added discontentedly. "I thought about asking Bonnie to request a room transfer, but there are way too many reasons not to. Mae needs her around, for one thing. For another, I don't want to ask her to move in with me just because the opportunity happens to present itself. When we take that step, I want it to be because it's the right thing for us both at the time. Of course," she said for the third time, rolling her eyes at herself, "at the rate I'm going, she's not going to want to speak to me, never mind live with me."
Yet again Stephanie considered telling Bonnie what was wrong. Yet again she decided against it. How selfish and shallow and callous will she think I am if I tell her the truth? I already know I'm selfish and shallow and callous. I don't want her to know it, too.
The computer chirruped its reminder. "Oh, end the damn recording," she snapped.
"Phlox, personal log, June 25th, 2153. I'm feeling refreshed and famished after my sleep cycle." He took a bite of his double bacon cheeseburger and washed it down with a swallow of grapefruit juice before going on. "I've been reviewing Ensign Cohn's medical logs made during my absence, and I'm more convinced than ever that I'm very lucky to have him on my team. His professionalism and work ethic are unsurpassed--and I appreciate his sense of humor," he added, remembering a certain entry. "He's highly skilled, and if he chose to he could become a fully qualified doctor in a very short time. Unfortunately that sort of formal training isn't something he can get aboard Enterprise in the current situation. It would behoove him to remain on Earth for a time to study, but I'm reluctant to suggest it." He paused again for another bite of burger and a few calamari rings. "Frankly, I don't want to be without him when we head out wherever we're heading out to." He took a swallow of juice and followed it with a forkful of apple pie and ice cream. "Still, I will talk to him about it. I only hope he dismisses the idea--at least until Earth and the human race are out of danger. End log entry."
He was too busy enjoying his breakfast to hear the computer chirp its compliance.
"Personal log, Ensign Ari Cohn, 27th of June 2153. I had a strange but good conversation with Phlox today. He thinks I should seriously consider staying behind on Earth when we get home. He says that with only a year or so more formal schooling I could become a doctor and be fully qualified to command my own sickbay. I don't know." Ari shook his head, still a bit stunned by what Phlox had said. "Of course I've thought about it, but I like what I'm doing now. Maybe someday. It would be exciting to actually be C.M.O. of a ship, have my own crew, run my own sickbay. It's a lot of responsibility. Maybe someday," he said again. "But right now I feel I need to be here on Enterprise. This is where I belong. Computer, end recording."
"Captain Jonathan Archer, personal log, June 30th, 2153. I witnessed something unexpected tonight." It was late and the day had been a long one. Jon began to undress as he spoke. "I went to the armory, looking for Lieutenant Reed. I wanted to discuss the weapons upgrades we're expecting when we reach Earth. He wasn't there. I suppose I ought to have queried the computer for his location, but I needed the walk anyway. And if I had, I wouldn't have seen or heard what I did."
He hung his uniform in the closet, discarded the under layers into the laundry, and then pulled on a pair of loose pajama pants. He sat down on the bunk. Immediately Porthos leapt up next to him.
"I didn't intend to eavesdrop, but that's irrelevant now. Ensign Young was there with crewman Martinez. She was crying. I know she lost most of her family in the attack, so I wasn't surprised. Clearly it was a private moment between the two of them. I meant to leave. Obviously I didn't," he said dryly.
Jon tried to convince himself that he'd done the right thing by staying. All sorts of excuses went through his mind. The sound of the door would disturb them and the moment would be lost. If he moved, they would see him and again the moment would be lost. It wouldn't do Martinez's confidence any good to find him there and think Reed had asked him to check up on her--despite any argument he would have made, he suspected she would think that. The truth of the matter was that once he was there, he wanted to know what was going on. Jon didn't know what he would do if he learned that Martinez was the crewman with whom Young had had an affair, but if he did he would deal with it.
That wasn't what he learned.
"Through her tears," he went on slowly, "Martinez said, 'They found my parents, and Carminda and Paz. Edgar told me in his letter. Mama had activated the system to seal the house, like when the hurricanes come, but it wasn't enough.' She listed more people, family members or friends, I don't know. Some were found, she said, but most were lost. And then she said, 'At least Edgar had something to bury.'" Jon paused, just as Martinez had. Her raw emotion at her loss stuck with him, brought back memories of his own father's passing. He could do nothing to stop his father's painful descent into death, but at least he had been there. He still wondered if his father had known he was there, and if his presence had helped at all. Jon didn't think anyone could feel as powerless as he had then, but Martinez--like Lawless and Trip--was light years from home. Their loved ones were gone without notice, without warning, without any chance to say good-bye. How much worse must it be for them? he wondered.
He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Young said something then that surprised me. I've never thought of him as a man who had a great deal of compassion in him," Jon admitted ruefully. "I suppose that shows how little I know about him even after two years under my command. He put his arm around Martinez's shoulders and he said, 'Even knowing the worst is still knowing, and that's better than wondering for the rest of your life.' After a moment Martinez stopped crying, wiped her eyes, and nodded. I don't know what happened after that. I decided that was a good time to leave--as quietly as possible. I don't think either of them noticed."
He fell silent for several seconds, considering everything that had happened since Enterprise had been ordered home. He thought of people like Juliana Martinez and Mae Lawless, who knew what had happened to the loved ones they'd lost. And he thought of Trip, who would never know what really happened to Lizzie, who--as Martinez had said--didn't even have anything to bury.
A chirp from the computer called him back to the present. "We have to find the people who did this, and we have to stop them ever doing it again, to us or to anyone else. End recording."
Archer stepped out of his ready room and onto the bridge. He walked slowly forward to where Tucker already stood, staring at the viewscreen where the blues and greens of Earth filled the scene. Reed rose from the tactical station to stand on the step beside the engineer. Sato was drawn forward, too. She crossed her arms over her chest and stood next to Mayweather, who remained seated at the helm.
All were silent as the ship passed over Florida, and then Cuba and what was left of the Caribbean. Two months wasn't nearly enough time for nature to repair the damage that had been done. Archer doubted a millennium would wipe away the scar that marred view before them.
"Hoshi," said Archer, eyes still glued on the viewscreen. "Hail all hands."
"Aye, sir." She returned to her station, and the three-note chime of the all-hands hail rang throughout the ship.
Hoping his exhaustion didn't sound as obvious to the crew as it did to him, Archer said grimly, "Welcome home, everyone."