The Delphic Expanse in this story will not be the Delphic Expanse in the TV series, as I have no Time war going on.
In the hustle and bustle of Starfleet Command Situation Room Fleet Admiral Masamoto, Admiral Forest, Vice Admiral Jefferies, Rear Admiral Gardner of SOLCOM, Rear Admiral Duval of ALPHACOM, Rear Admiral Williams of BETACOM, Admiral Black of SPECOM, Fleet Captain Archer, Fleet Captain Ramirez, Fleet Captain Robinson, Fleet Captain Tucker, Captain Angela Henning, Captain Vanek, and Soval gathered around the isolated conference room. They stood around a large smart table, which was supplying information about convoys and ships. The conference room had thick walls, which were a mix of plastic and glass, and it stood in the middle of the Situation Room. Trip looked through the walls at the busy technicians. From holographic maps of hot areas to ship deployments to incoming comms from starbases under construction, he was transfixed by the activity.
"There was an attack on P'Jem which was fought off by our starships and Andorian ships. Both sides took heavy damaged," announced Masamoto.
"The Andorians are now a signee of the coalition treaty and active participants in this war against the Romulan Star Empire," said Forest.
Archer looked at AG then Ramirez then Trip and nodded his approval. Trip allowed a small smile on his face. He was slightly amused as Shran as an ally.
"The Andorians are sending diplomats and several military leaders to Earth to set up an embassy and liaison," said Forest.
"So are the Teller, Rigelians, and Coridans are doing the same," said Masamoto. "Admiral Forest will act as the primary go between with our allies. He will be setting up the working parameters between our fleet and their fleets, as well as integrating where it makes sense. Our war is heating up."
"We have information from Starfleet Intelligence that the Romulans have completed their space station," said Masamoto, who then nodded at Captain Henning.
"We have it on good intel that there is now currently between 90 and 120 Romulan starships using that station as a launching point. Right now they are testing us and collecting intel, but a campaign to invade and conquer is being prepared," Captain Henning stated.
"Do they intend to start this campaign with 120 ships?" asked Ramirez.
"No, we expect that their current fleet will double before their campaign begins," said Henning, "but until then they will step up the attacks in order to cause damage to supply lines and provoke terror on our population."
"Rear Admiral Gardner, your plans to defend the Sol System must be approved by the UE Senate. Minister Samuels has procured the funding based on this approval. Are you ready to represent a defense of Sol System?" asked Masamoto.
"Yes, sir," replied Gardner.
"I will arrange a presentation to the Senate's Committee on Sol Defense," Masamoto told him.
"ALPHACOM, Rear Admiral Duval, I need a schedule on the completion times for the starbases, as well as your strategies to protect colonies and starbases. We need to get our allies involved, which means we will need to add their bases and colonies, also," said Masamoto.
"Yes, sir," said Duval. The tall man with a bald pate and aquiline nose stood up even straighter.
"Would tomorrow at 9 am be good for you to meet with me, Admiral Forest, and Vice Admiral Jefferies?" asked Masamoto.
"That would be fine, sir," he answered.
Masamoto nodded his approval. He then looked at Rear Admirals Williams.
"I need to see your plan to set up a defense of the Alpha Quadrant from an incursion from the Beta Quadrant, Rear Admiral Williams," said Masamoto.
"Plans are almost completed, sir," said Williams.
"You have four days to complete them and show them to me, Forest, and Jefferies," said Masamoto.
"Yes, sir," said Williams.
"Good," said Masamoto. "Gentlemen, you are all dismissed, except Admiral Black and Fleet Captain Tucker."
The three other Fleet Captains looked over at Tucker, who shrugged. Archer chuckled. They exited along with Admirals Williams, Duval, and Gardner, as well as Captain Henning. Soval, Forest, and Jefferies remained along with Masamoto.
Admiral Black moved beside Tucker, who nodded in respect to Black. Black shook his head. He still wasn't completely thrilled with having Tucker as his Fleet Captain.
"Admiral Black, as commander of SPECOM, your priority is to devise a plan which will allow for Syrann and several fire teams of Recon Marines to locate and retrieve the Kir'Shara," said Masamoto.
"Possession of the Kir'Shara could become an important piece in the retaking of Vulcan," said Soval.
"You are asking us to find a way into the heart of Rommie territory, get some Recon Marines and Vulcans down to the planet, get this Kir'Shara, and then get it out of there," said Black.
"In a manner of speaking, yes," said Soval.
"Do you have any ideas, Admiral Black?" asked Masamoto.
"Yes, I do. If Tucker can get his battleship running then I think forty of ships and the thirty Vulcan ships that got away and we attack their space station. While that attack is going on, we send the Liberator with the marines and Vulcans down to attack Vulcan, give them a fifteen minute time limit to get this Kir'Shara, then warp out of there once we the time limit is up," said Black.
"This could either work or be a suicide mission," said Forest.
"Our chances of success would be better if we had cloaking technology like the damned Rommies. If we could cloak the ships, we could be a surprise attack. As is we are going to try and come out of warp as close to our target as we can," said Black.
"There may be an alternative to cloaking technology," said Soval.
"Please, Minister, tells of an alternative," said Masamoto.
"There is a fascinating race called the Xindi which utilizes a subspace vortex. In a matter of several hours, your starship travels up to twenty-four light years, and it is undetectable until the starship exits the vortex. The only problem with this technology is that it consumes a great deal of energy. After one use it takes a 24 to 30 hour period to use again," explained Soval.
"But your warp drive should be unaffected, am I right, Minister?" asked Trip.
"The subspace vortex is separate from all other drives," said Soval.
"Where can we find these Xindi in order to barter with them?" asked Forest.
"In the Delphic Expanse, which is an area of space 2,000 light years across. It is the home of many planets and races, but the Xindi dominate," replied Soval.
"Alpha Quadrant," said Jefferies.
"It sounds like a mission of Fleet Captain Archer," said Masamoto, who then looked at Black. "If you had this subspace vortex, would your chances of success increase?"
"By a factor of at least ten," said Black.
"How would it change your current plans?" asked Forest.
"It would mean taking some time after Tucker prefects and gets it into the ships we use to train with the tech and work on timing," smiled Black.
"Get started on the planning of your mission, Admiral Black," said Masamoto.
"Yes, sir," said Black.
Masamoto looked at Trip.
"When will the Liberator be ready?" he asked.
"If we go twenty-four hours a day shifts, then the Liberator will be ready to leave dock in nine weeks," said Trip. "Our computer core is incomplete. We have no shields or weapons and only a handful of quarters are ready."
"Begin twenty-four hour a day shifts," said Masamoto, who then looked over at Soval.
"It sounds like an intrepid mission, Admiral Black. All twenty-three Vulcan starships will be under your command," he said.
"Thank you, sir, for your trust," said Black.
"Admiral Black, I am entrusting you with what is left of the Vulcan fleet. If you succeed and that fleet is lost, it will be a worthy endeavor. If you fail and that fleet is lost, Vulcan will be lost," said Soval.
"I understand, sir," said Black.
"Captain Tucker. Minister Soval wishes you to accompany him. Please do so," said Masamoto.
"Yes, sir," said Trip.
"Captain, please, come with me," said Soval.
Trip and Soval exited the conference room.
The Vulcan compound in Sausalito was crowded except for a hill that overlooked the bay and San Francisco. The hill caught a stiff breeze and was a tad too cold Vulcans. There was one Vulcan standing on the hill. Syrann stood staring at the water and the city of San Francisco.
Soval escorted Trip to the foot of that hill. He pointed towards Syrann.
"Syrann waits for you there," said Soval. "He is wishing to speak to you."
"Do you know why?" asked Trip.
"Syrann prefers the company of his followers and Solkar. I believe I am too pragmatic for Syrann's temperament," said Soval.
Trip smiled causing Soval to cock his right eyebrow. He started up the hill. When he came to a stop beside Syrann the older but not elderly Vulcan spoke.
"Your mate's mother offers her greeting and hopes that she will be able to spend some time with you in the future getting to know you," said Syrann.
"I'd like that," said Trip. "Always good to get to know the in-laws."
"I've asked to meet you and speak to you because the fate of Vulcan will rest in your hands on some level. It is fortuitous that you are mated and bonded to a Vulcan, yet I would like to know the man we are depending on," said Syrann.
"Ask whatever questions you'd like of me, sir," said Trip.
Syrann turned and looked at him. He stared at Trip for an uncomfortably long time then he spoke again.
"I need to know the man. I wish to mind meld with you," said Syrann.
"Mind meld? Really?"
"It is the only way I can be sure of knowing if you are worthy of our trust," said Syrann.
"I'm really not a fan of letting strangers into my head," said Trip.
"I will also let you into my head. It will be a shared experience," said Syrann.
"We can't just sit down over tea and have a long talk, huh?" said Trip.
"A mind meld would be best," said Syrann.
"Here. I find this spot calming," said Syrann.
Trip took a deep breath. So much was riding on Syrann and the retrieval of the Kir'Shara that he needed the Vulcan's trust. Although he wasn't a fan of letting someone take a stroll through his mind, there seemed to be no other way to gain Syrann's trust.
"Meld away," said Trip.
Syrann reached up and place his fingers gently on Trip's PSI nodes on his face. Trip was almost immediate overwhelmed by the presence of Syrann in his mind, but also of another, too. Surak was present, also. He tried to put up no walls or impediments but let Syrann freely into his mind. Aside from the discomfort of having another in one's mind, he left assured and calmed by the presence of Surak. The ancient Vulcan's katra spoke to him.
"Be not afraid. Fear is the killer of logic and impedes our ability to learn, to touch another's katra, to be open minded. Put away your fear, Charles," said Surak's katra to him.
Trip allowed brought down all his walls and shields letting Syrann access his mind completely. The calming presence of Surak kept him from panicking or fighting the process. He lost track of time. Finally, Syrann took his hands away from his face.
"You have strong emotions for a Human," Syrann said with a raised right eyebrow.
Trip wasn't sure of it, but he thought there was a hint of humor to what he said.
"There is also a strong vain of logic and a fine mind. You are capable of more than you realize, Captain Tucker," said Syrann. "You have my trust. Do I have your trust?"
Trip reflected for a moment. For some reason, he wasn't sure why, but he did trust Syrann. He must have experienced Syrann's mind on a subconscious level.
"Yes, you do," said Trip.
"Good," said Syrann. "In ten days you will join me and my followers for a dinner. Bring T'Pol. Now you may go. I know you have many important duties to perform."
"Thanks, I think," said Trip, who turned to leave.
"Oh, before I forget Surak's katra enjoyed your mind," said Syrann.
"Well, I enjoyed his, too," said Trip then he walked back down the hill where Soval waited for him.
"You melded," said Soval.
"Yeah. He says he trusts me now," said Trip.
"I see," said Soval skeptically. "I must talk to Syrann."
"Well, I need a ride back to Starfleet," said Trip.
"I shall have Vulcan security drive you."
When he was told that he had to go find the Xindi in the Delphic Expanse and negotiate with them for the use of their subspace vortex, Archer was tempted to laugh. From what he had heard about the Xindi was that they were several races in one and some of those races with xenophobic and belligerent. He requested a task force of fifteen starships and was told that he could have a task force of five starships.
It was by accident that Shran heard of this task force and volunteered himself and his ship the Kumari for the mission. It appeared that the Andorians took the coalition seriously, especially in the acquisition of new technology. Archer was told that besides Shran and his ship he could have one NX and two frigates and a Daedalus-class cruiser. This was to be more of a diplomatic and trade mission than a confrontational mission.
The Kumari, the NX Challenger, the frigates Patton and Apache, and cruiser the Resolute joined the Enterprise in formation. At warp 6 they had six day trip to the Delphic Expanse. According to Starfleet Cartography, the Expanse was an area of space filled with therombaric clouds, time eddies that wreaked havoc with sensors and other technology, and quantum singularities. This information was mainly attained from the Vulcans and the Regelians, who traded in the area.
With the ships ready to go to warp, Archer stood up from his command chair then turned to his comm office.
"Mister Tatupu, give me ship to ship with Task Force: Barter," he said.
"You have it, sir," replied Tatupu after his hands dances across his board.
"This is Fleet Captain Archer. Prepare to go to warp 6 in three minutes. Set course for the Delphic Expanse. Our mission is one of diplomacy and trade. Keep that in mind. Archer out," he said then sat back down.
"Kind of wish T'Pol and Trip were here," said Malcolm, who came up beside the command chair.
"I agree. At least Lieutenant Commander Hess is now our chief engineer," said Archer.
"I hope the Atlantis is enjoying Commander Kelby as chief engineer," said Malcolm with a smirk.
"AG wanted a chief with experience," grinned Archer then he looked at the chronometer on his chair. "Helm, prepare for warp. In eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one – go to warp."
"Aye, aye, sir."
The hovertaxi let Trip and T'Pol off about fifty yards from his parents' home. He was wearing jeans and grey Starfleet tee shirt, while T'Pol wore her Vulcan robes. Trip went to carry her duffel bag along with his, but she refused to relinquish it to him. Through their bond he could feel her true nervousness meeting his family.
"Trip!" yelled Elizabeth, who had been standing with Charlie Tucker, as he worked on the grill.
She ran over to them and jumped into his arms.
"Hey, sis, you're excited," he chuckled.
"I have some great news. I've been hired by Starfleet to design housing for refugees," she said with a big smile then she looked at T'Pol. "I'll have to bug you with questions about what Vulcan's expect from a living quarters."
"Efficiency would be appreciated," she said.
"Just efficiency?" Elizabeth asked.
"It is highly values in Vulcan culture," T'Pol said in her usual cool tone.
"Okay, well, efficiency it is," smiled Elizabeth.
Over his sister's shoulder, Trip could see his father staring and waiting to be introduced to T'Pol. His mouth started to go dry.
"Who is here?" he asked.
"Tonight is just me, you, T'Pol, mom, and dad," she answered.
"More Tuckers for my birthday party."
"Okay, let's get this started," said Trip.
They continued walking to where Charlie was grilling up stakes, potatoes, and husks of corn. Trip sighed and hoped that Elizabeth had lectured them on what Vulcans eat. As they got a few feet away from Charlie, a big smile cracked his face.
"I must say, Trip, that you have brought yourself a very attractive guest for the weekend," said Charlie. "I'm Charles Tucker II, but everyone calls me Charlie. You must be Trip's girlfriend."
"I am T'Pol," she said. "I am his Adun'a."
Trip found that he stopped breathing for a moment, as Elizabeth broke into a big grin.
"Adun'a? Now what does that translate to in Earth Standard?" Charlie asked.
"Wife," T'Pol answered.
Charlie Tucker opened his mouth but nothing came out. He then shut his mouth and opened it again, but nothing came out. Finally, he tried a third time and called out, "Elaine!"
Elaine started to laugh, while T'Pol observed their behavior and Trip felt his stomach knot. Charlie hand the large fork to turn the meat to Elizabeth then he said.
"I need to talk to your mother for a few moments," he said then hustled up the porch steps and into the large house.
Trip looked at his sister and said, "I blame you for this."
"Oh, come on, Trip, this is going to be one memorable birthday."
"I have I made a social mistake?" asked T'Pol.
"Nay, darlin', I told you were we were going to be honest with them, but I forget to tell you that we need to break them in slowly," he said.
"See we are kind of an overly emotional family, even my father. I guess Trip keeps his emotions and problems to himself the most out of all of us, so it's going to take my parents a little getting used to Vulcan ways of acting," said Elizabeth. "Right now he is probably in there telling out mother that you are married and she is thinking how can a Vulcan love a Human."
T'Pol turned and looked at Trip and then said, "Taluhk nash-veh k'dular, Adun."
"And I cherish you, wife," smiled Trip.
She offered him her index and middle finger of left hand and he accepted them with the index and middle finger of his right hand in an ozh'esta. Elizabeth beamed with delight.
"I think you two make a beautiful pair," she said.
"Thanks, Liz," said Trip.
Elaine Tucker came out onto the porch with her husband. Trip knew he was in trouble when she didn't so much look upset, but like she was about to punish him for breaking the rules. He took a deep breath.
"Charles Tucker III, may I speak to you in private?" she asked.
He felt a spoke of nervousness in T'Pol, so he leaned in and whispered in her ear.
"She is angry at me for not telling her sooner. You relax and I'll take care of this, darlin'."
"I understand, K'diwa."
Trip broke the finger embrace with T'Pol and faced his mother. It was time to face the music, as his mother waited for him with her arms crossed in front of her chest.