The gathering chamber was impressive. There was a dais were the leader sat, comfortable seating in the middle and water tanks along the walls for the Aquatics. From his hidden spot behind a one way mirror Archer could see the whole room. Along with two Primate guards, he stood and watched. So, far gathered were the Xindi-Primates, Xindi-Arboreal, and Xindi- Aquatic. They had been first to this room so that they could review the information Archer brought them on the Xindi-Reptilian and Xindi-Insectoid. When they finished Degra gave an impassioned speech on the Xindi sacred trust being broken.
Archer watched as an Aquatic, which reminded him of a version of the mythic Loch Ness monster, swam to the front of the glass that separated her from the non-Aquatic Xindi and spoke.
"I Kiaphet Amman'sor renounce the treachery of the Reptilians and Insectoid. Our pact is broken. They no longer look to rule as five in honor of the Xindi-Avian, but wish to lord themselves over their fellow Xindi. Faith has been broken," she said.
"But what do we do?" asked Janar then he slowly shook his letting his mane move along with his movements.
"We are now three," said Kiaphet Amman'sor.
"It is that simple?" said Degra.
"It is that simple," said Kiaphet.
"Then we must be prepared to fight if attacked by the Reptilian," said Janar. "They cannot be trusted once faith is broken."
The sounds of agreement reverberated through the room. After a few moments of species talking to species, Kiaphet asked for the Human to be brought into the gathering chamber. It was time to deal with the matters at hand. His guards escorted Captain Archer into the room.
"So, Human, what do you ask from us for this bitter information you have brought us?" asked Janar.
"I ask nothing for that. My name is Jonathan Archer. I am here to trade or offer an alliance, if you need one. It will be your choice and your choice alone," said Archer. "I am here to force nothing."
Archer saw an opportunity to expand the coalition, so he decided to pounce on it. Although he said he hated diplomacy, he did have a gift for it and the idea of a Coalition of Planets was starting to grow on him.
"Earth is building a coalition of planets in order to defend many worlds from the advancing Romulan Star Empire Fleet. I offer you a chance to join with us to stand against the Romulans when they come for your homes. The Romulans are conquerors by nature. Don't let yourself become their next conquest," he said.
"And what if we don't want to join this coalition, Captain Archer?" asked a Xindi-Arboreal.
"Join us or fight alone and die," said Archer. "The Romulans are ruthless. They are not to be underestimated; if you do underestimate then you risk everything."
"What do you need from us that you wish to trade for?" asked a Primate.
"The specs for your subspace vortex," answered Archer.
"And what do you offer in exchange for something so valuable?" asked Kiaphet.
"Friendship, an ally, or if you prefer weapons. Our Mark III torpedoes have proven to be effective against the Romulans," said Archer. "So, either we offer someone to fight beside you or something to fight with. I recommend you take our hand in friendship and become allies. You will need the coalition's help when the Romulans come. We will all need each other's help before this war is over. Don't underestimate the Romulans."
Suddenly, Commander Dolim, the leader of the Xindi-Reptilian, burst into the gathering chamber. One look at the cold blooded Dolim and Archer knew that they Reptilian would be a formidable enemy. He watched the Xindi-Reptilian sized up the room.
"What is the meaning of this?" demanded Dolim. "How dare you gather together and not invite representatives from the Reptilian and Insectoid clans here to respond to whatever are being said about us."
"We have been here discussing your treachery, Commander," said Kiaphet.
Dolim turned and stared at Kiaphet then slowly eyed the dais, who were the decision makes. He stopped when he made eye contact with Janar. Dolim never liked him. Next he shifted and stared at Degra.
"The Romulans and your accord with them is done. We know what you tried to do
"How dare you touch me," he screamed.
"If you fire that weapon then you die, Dolim," said Janar, who had a weapon of his own drawn.
"Why did you turn on your own kind, Dolim?" asked Kiaphet.
"We are meant as a race to rule and conquer, but instead you trade and build relationships with weaker races. You dawdle when the occasion calls for quick action. I am sick of crawling on my belly. Join me brothers or die," said Dolim then he looked about the room to see his words got a negative reaction. "I find that I am in agreement with the Romulan way rather than ours."
"You have three days to remove your race and your ally the Insectoids to remove theirs from the Expanse or we will begin to remove you by force," said Janar.
"Do you think you could beat my fleet?" asked Dolim.
"I believe the Aquatics, the Primates, and my race along with help from this Coalition of Planets could more than handle your fleet and the Insectoid fleet. You are not as superior as you think. Leave, Xindi-Reptilian, you are no longer wanted here," said Janar sadly.
"We will be back along with our new ally the Romulans. The Delphic Expanse will one day be controlled by the Reptilians and Insectoids and when that happens it will finally be ruled properly," said Dolim.
"You are a traitor and a fool, Dolim," said Kiaphet. "Collect your people and your allies and leave before death comes to you."
Dolim stormed out of the gathering chamber. Archer looked to the dais.
"It appears that we should be discussing how we can join your Coalition of Planets," said Janar.
"I'd be glad to negotiate a treaty with you," smiled Archer.
MacFadden and Solaris were in the coveralls along with the rest of the Engineering Department hard at work when T'Pol entered Engineering. She allowed herself a cursory look about before calling on Solaris.
"Solaris," she said.
Solaris finished punching some numbers into the console he was working on then he walked over to T'Pol. He looked at his fellow Vulcan for a moment. Although she appeared calm, there was a sense of energy about her that he didn't like.
"I am looking for Captain Tucker," she said.
Solaris raised an eyebrow in bemusement. Like most Vulcans involved with Trip and T'Pol he knew that they were bonded, a fact that he was less than thrilled with, but he had to accept.
"Your bond cannot draw you to his location," he said with a hint of disdain.
"He is blocking me."
"A Human has that mental discipline," said Solaris.
"My Human does," she answered succinctly.
"He is working on the starboard nacelle. I believe you will find him in nacelle control room," said Solaris.
She nodded and left the Engineering. It was a long climb up the Jefferies tube to the nacelle, but T'Pol made it with less effort than it would take a Human, yet it was still tasking for her. Once she got to the catwalk she made her way to the nacelle control room stopping at the door, as she heard a voice.
"I'm still the best damned engineer on this ship," Trip drawled in triumph. "Warp 7.5 here we come when the testing begins."
T'Pol cocked and eyebrow then entered the control room. Trip turned and looked at her. He appeared genuinely surprised to see her.
"You are blocking me," she said.
"I know, darlin'. You see I had a few theories that I wanted to test and I knew that you wanted me to get rest because you say I've been working too many hours for a Human. But I really wanted to make these changes. I know this ship can do warp 7.5 or better if we get this damned warp engine and nacelles working properly," he explained in a torrent of words.
"You need rest," she stated then waited impatiently for his reply.
"I need a lot of things, darlin'," he smiled.
She felt him drop his barrier to their bond and a rush of sexual arousal flow through their bond. He knew that as his mate and as a Vulcan she was attuned his sexual arousal. This was just part of her biology. The stronger the arousal it became almost like a mini-Pon Farr. She was now flooded with desire and need.
"Charles, you are trying to manipulate me. I will make you regret this later," she said, as she started to feel her control slipping.
"T'Pol, I'm just showing you one of the reasons I put my mental barriers up. We've been so busy lately that we have been with each other. I'm really missing you, darlin' and I know how this can affect you, so I thought I'd put my barriers up and stay away from you until I had some self-control," he said with his voice become a husky growl.
Those primitive instincts and needs started to flood T'Pol. She wanted her mate and she wanted him now. Moving up close to him she grabbed his shirt and pulled him into her for a deep passionate kiss. Trip didn't fight it. Once he captured her mouth, he devoured it. For several minutes they were embroiled in their passion until Trip pulled away.
"Darlin', if we don't stop now then I'm not going to be able to stop," he said.
"Attend me, husband," she growled.
"Here? Now?" he asked with a smile.
"You started this, my mate. You must fulfill you obligation," she purred.
"Lock the door, darlin'," he said.
Trip woke up to the shrill whistle of an incoming comm in his quarters. He was lying naked in his bed with T'Pol beside him. If he was just a chief engineer he'd ignore it and stay in bed, but those days were over. They had made love in the nacelle control room then made their way back to the Captain's quarters where they made love again and again. He was exhausted, as was T'Pol, but the incoming comm sound had woke him and continued to call to him.
Putting on a pair of sweat pants and nothing else, he stumbled his way in the blue darkness of his quarters to his desk and view screen. He turned on the view screen and accepted the comm. It was Admiral Black.
"Were you asleep?" he asked.
"I've been putting in a lot of hours. I need a few hours of sleep," he said.
Trip looked past the view screen to the sleeping form of his mate. She was now alone in his bed, a bed which was larger than the normal crew bed because he was a captain. Sometimes he was glad to be a captain.
"I see," said Black. "Archer contacted command today. He has the subspace vortex specs. I got to give him credit the Xindi are now split and some have become the allies of the Romulans and some are now our allies. He's even bringing a couple of Xindi engineers with him to help build and install the vortex. The man is almost single handedly building the Coalition of Planets. He'll be an admiral soon."
"Captain Archer is the best," said Trip with a smile.
"Well, he's saved our ass. We may succeed in our suicide mission after all. I might even get some ships back," said Black.
"Glad to see you are optimistic about this, Admiral," said Trip sarcastically.
"Hell, Tucker, I can't afford to be optimistic. SPECOM is about pulling off miracles and our first mission is going to need a real miracle," he said. "Once Archer is back here then I need you to start attending meetings and training sessions. You already have two of the better engineers in Starfleet working on your ship. I need you."
"Syrann has requested T'Pol's presence, also. He and his people have to start training with your Marines."
"I'll contact Hayes and let him know. He has been training with his men in the Sahara."
"Hell, I hate hot weather," said Black. "Get some sleep, Tucker, and I'll see you in a couple of days."
"Yes, sir," said Trip. He turned off his view screen and then looked over at his wife's prone body. A smile curved his lips. Maybe he didn't need that much rest, he thought, as he got up to rejoin her in bed.
The one time council chamber was now Mendat's permanent office. Once austere in line with the Vulcan aesthetic, but now it was plush with comfortable chairs and plush pillows. Gone was the symmetrical Vulcan art, as it had been replaced with Romulan high art representing battles won and conquered people.
One of now Invasion Fleet Admiral Mendat's top aides Commander Valon entered his office. He marked down the long aisle to his desk and handed him a PADD. Mendat read it then tossed the PADD away.
"It appears that the Xindi-Reptilian and Xindi-Insectoids will be arriving soon. Earth got to the Delphic Expanse before us. I don't want them stationed here," Mendat sighed. "They will pollute the area just like Reman do."
"The Reman are stationed on T'Khut and the station, sir. Where do you want these Xindi?" asked Valon.
"Send them to the base we are setting up near Earth's failed DMZ. They can become our first wave invasion force," he said, "cannon fodder."
"We are talking two hundred and fifty warships and another one with civilians, sir."
"Let them chose one of the unused planets as a base. We will supply them with what they need," said Mendat.
"Supplying them will become expensive, sir," said Valon.
"Commander Valon, all you have to do is step up the attacks on cargo ships, plus since the Orion Pirates have been less than helpful, begin plundering their ships and planets," he said. "The Orion Syndicate has one purpose and that is to be used by us."
Valon smiled, "Yes, sir. I'll begin putting together raiding fleets."
"Give our new allies a priority with what they need. It's best to keep them happy if they are going to make for productive cannon fodder," said Mendat.
Valon started back down the aisle to be stopped by Mendat.
"Oh, Commander, arrange for a meeting of Vulcan High Priest and Priestess for me. They have been asked politely to begin assimilating Romulan morality and character into their teachings, but they have been remiss. It's time that I am a little more persuasive with them," said Mendat.
"Yes, sir," said Valon.
"Also, I want one of those Vulcan bitches who are about to starting her Pon Farr. I find them enticing when they are in a state primal arousal. You should try one, Commander. I believe you will find it enjoyable," said Mendat.
"I think I'll try one myself," he said.
"Don't let it get around how pleasurable it is, though, Commander, or you and I will find it difficult getting a Vulcan female in Pon Farr. They will be in demand," laughed Mendat.
"Yes, sir," grinned Valon.
Solkar sat with his son Skon and his newborn son Sarek in his arms on the couch, while Syrann sat across from them on the divan with T'Pau. They were waiting for T'Pol and Trip arrive. The bell rang and one of Solkar's aides answered it then escorted Trip and T'Pol into the common room.
Solkar stood up and offered them the Ta'al, "Live long and prosper."
"Long life and health," replied T'Pol as she held up the Ta'al.
"Please sit down," said Solkar as he motioned to two chairs side by side. He noticed them looking at the baby.
"Even in times of crisis, life continues," said Solkar. "My son's son. His name is Sarek."
They sat down. Syrann was the first to speak.
"T'Pol, your mother sends here best wishes. She hopes to see more of you when we travel to Vulcan," he said.
"T'Les will be traveling with us to Vulcan. Isn't that a little too dangerous for her?" asked Trip.
"It will be dangerous for all of us," said Syrann.
"But she need not be exposed to the danger," said Trip.
"Captain Tucker, T'Les will be necessary on the trip to Vulcan, as will T'Pau, but they will not be going down to the planet with me, though," said Syrann.
Trip opened his mouth to argue but found he was faced with too many raised eyebrows, so he decided not to remain quiet for now.
"Besides your Recon Marines, I will be going down to the planet with two of my closest associates, Spanek and Syvak," said Syrann.
"May I ask why?" asked Trip.
"The reason will come apparent in time, Captain Tucker."
"Why did you ask us here?" asked T'Pol.
"Much of the future of Vulcan is in the hands of those sitting here right now. I thought it best that we grew familiar with each other," said Solkar.
The baby Sarek began to cry. It was a loud cry but it was a persistent one.
"His mother is not here," said Skon, who held his son trying to pacify him.
Trip stood up and reached out for the baby.
"I've been an uncle twice over. I'm pretty good with babies," said Trip.
Skon handed Sarek to Trip. He put the baby on his shoulder and started to pat his back and gently shake him T'Pol watched with fascination. Slowly, the baby calmed down and Trip returned a sleeping Sarek to his father. T'Pol was impressed with her Adun's skill with a baby, if not slightly intimidated.
Trip looked at his wife. He could feel her mixed feelings through the bond and he smiled. She was too old to be intimidated with his skill with children. Solkar spoke up.
"We should retire to our lunch. According to Syrann, tomorrow, Captain, you are going with him and his people to the Sahara in order to review the training and tactics of the Marines. Do you like the dessert?"
Trip didn't know this and felt his body get heavy.
"No, I don't like the dessert," said Trip.
Syrann looked at T'Pol then at Trip, "It appears that you have to get used to it. It is now unavoidable for you."