Trip stood in the design lab along with Dr. Pappas, Commander Hiram Schultz, Tavin, and T'Pol. The designs for the ship, which Trip nicknamed the Liberator, were projected as three dimensional holographs above a smart table. The design was elegant in Trip's opinion. Instead of saucer primary hull, it was an arrow shaped hull with a deflector ray located on the belly. The arrow hull was attacked to an oblong, which was the engineering hull, by a neck section. They forewent the Vulcan ring nacelle design and kept Starfleet's winged nacelles, which were attached to the oblong hull. There were ten phase or plasma cannon banks and twelve new photon Mark II torpedo tubes, and, even though there was going to be shields, Trip opted for a new double hull design adding toughness for when the shields and polarized hulls went down.
The Vulcan warp engine would allow for warp 7, though Trip already had some ideas on how to tweak it to get to warp 8. There were two shuttle bays carrying a maximum of eight Vulcan designed shuttles, as well as two large cargo bays, one of which could be used for training by the Marines. There was a Infirmary for everyday use and a Sickbay that could hold fifty patients. Of course, there was a gym, two Mess Halls, an Officer Wardroom and a Non-Comm Wardroom, and Captain's Dining Room. Built for a crew capacity of 300 Starfleet personnel, not including a permanent squad of Marines, with the ability to carry 150 Marines in an emergency, the Liberator was to fight not explore, though Trip envisioned that someday it would be used for exploration. When built the Liberator would easily be the largest ship in the fleet.
Trip was ready to finalize the design and plans and send them off to Admiral Jefferies for review, but Tavin wanted to run more diagnostics and simulations to test the design. Pappas and Tavin were arguing, as Trip and T'Pol listened.
Trip glanced over at T'Pol. Once again he was surprised at how easy it was for him to work with her. In the beginning, he had his troubles with her, yet it didn't take long for them to find a comfort zone when working with each other. Of course, it didn't hurt that he found her to be one of the most attractive females he'd ever known. Vulcan or not, he was attracted to her.
"The new double hull, though ingenious, has not been tested enough," said Tavin.
"The best test would be a scale model, which we then put through the ringer," Pappas said.
Tavin raised his eyebrow in confusion.
"Put through the ringer means to put through a battery of strenuous tests," T'Pol interpreted for him.
Trip smiled. Here was when he was most happy to have T'Pol working with him. She was used to his moods and personality and had come to understand many Human sayings. He felt more comfortable with her then he ever felt with Natalie, which surprised him.
"Captain, how do you feel about putting a model through the ringer?" asked Tavin.
"I think it is something we'll do if we get the okay on the design," said Trip.
"Why not do it now?" asked Tavin.
"Because we are done wasting time, Tavin. This ship needs to be schedule for construction soon. It will take a month to set up ta space dock big enough on Mars for the Liberator then six months construction. We need to get started building this now," said Trip.
"Why the impatience?" asked Tavin.
"The Romulans are building a space station orbiting T'Khut that will more than likely be a base for further invasion into the Alpha Quadrant. Starfleet has to have a fleet to match them and defeat them," said Trip. "Let's not forget that only six Vulcan Military starships survived. We need more quality starships now."
"If you rush you can make mistakes," said Tavin.
"We're human, Tavin; we're used to mistakes. When we make a mistake, we fix it and move forward," said Trip.
"Tavin, I believe that the treaty gives Starfleet the authority of final say," said T'Pol. "We are arguing for the sake of arguing."
He looked at T'Pol then nodded his head.
"Send the designs to Admiral Jefferies," said Tavin.
Trip walked over to the smart able, entered his command control, encrypted the file, and then he sent it on to Vice Admiral Jefferies office. T'Pol found herself staring at Trip in his new uniform. She found him attractive in it. Her mind drifted to their neuropressure session on the Enterprise. Trip tried to suppress a yawn.
"Are you sleeping well, Captain?" asked T'Pol.
"Not this week," he answered then looked over at Tavin, who was once again in deep conversation with Dr. Pappas.
"Did you attempt to keep up with Tavin's schedule?" T'Pol asked.
"Had to," he yawned.
"Vulcan's do not need as much sleep as Humans," T'Pol lectured him.
"You've told me that before, T'Pol," he said then smiled.
"It is a fact," she said.
"And I'm not disputing it," he said.
T'Pol noticed that Trip dropped his usual use of the colloquial ain't. She also noticed that his Southern Accent wasn't as strong. He still had an accent, but it wasn't as strong.
"You should get some sleep," she said.
"Can't. I expect that Jefferies is opening up the file now and will be calling me to go over it in some depth for the rest of the afternoon and into the evening," said Trip.
"I see, Captain," said T'Pol.
"If Vice Admiral Jefferies approves of the designs then what happens next?" she asked.
"Space dock is built orbit the moon and the new fleet yards," said Trip. "Good news I'll be getting two weeks off, so I can visit my family for a few days then come back and find something to do."
"I see," she said. "I should report to Soval and Solkar and update them."
Trip smiled, "How are things at the Vulcan Compound?"
"Crowded. We are opening another compound in Dubai next week," T'Pol told him. "My mother will be visiting then. I am slated to see her."
"Glad to see her?" asked Trip.
T'Pol lifted her right eyebrow.
"Glad is an emotion and Vulcan do not feel emotions," smiled Trip. "You'd think I believe that, but I don't."
Trip's communicator beeped. He took it out and flipped it open.
"Tucker," he said.
"I've got the file. I'll expect you in my office in twenty minutes. We'll have lunch and work," said Jefferies.
"Yes, sir," said Trip then he closed his communicator.
"You must leave," said T'Pol with a hint of disappointment found under the surface of her tone.
"Yeah, I have to do," he said, though he didn't want to leave. He didn't want to leave her company.
Archer sat with Phlox and Reed in his Mess having dinner. They were having a turkey dinner with sausage dressing, mashed potatoes, fresh rolls, gravy, and apple pie.
"This is a treat, Captain," said Phlox.
"Well, for the last week it was just Malcolm and I and I thought a third would make for better conversation," said Archer.
"Glad you could make it, Doctor," said Reed.
Malcolm looked over Phlox's shoulder and out the window. Corp of Engineers was on the Starbase and the Marines had set up temporary base on P'Jem, even though the monks complained. The Magellan was flying the Combat Air Patrol, or CAP. Archer had sent messages out in hopes of a meeting with Commander Shran. He was going to have Ensign Tatupu stopped broadcasting the message, when he finally received a reply. In two days, he was meeting Shran near the Crab Nebula.
"It is my pleasure," said Phlox. "Usually, I'm either dining in the Mess Hall or with my menagerie in Sickbay. Have you heard new from Earth?"
Archer was cutting into some turkey and stopped suddenly.
"Yeah, it seems the anti-alien group Terra Prime is growing. UE and Starfleet Security are finally starting to clamp down on it. Some Vulcans were hurt by protestors a few days ago," he said.
"That is a shame. I know Proxima and Alpha Centuri UE Colonies have embraced the Vulcans," said Phlox.
"Eight million refugees and five million are seeking asylum on Earth Proper," said Malcolm. "The problem is crowding."
"Besides New Berlin on the moon construction of New ShiKahr is underway. They say that should allow up to a million Vulcans a chance of a new home," said Archer.
"Denobula has offered asylum to some refugees but one a few hundred thousand Vulcans have taken my government up on their offer," said Phlox. "Oddly enough, I believe Vulcans feel safe with Humans on the whole."
"Except with Terra Prime," said Malcolm.
"We have to count on the UE and Starfleet to handle them," said Archer.
Five hundred Terra Prime Protestors made entrance into the UE Senate in Paris difficult. The Senate was holding special meetings on the best way to handle the overcrowding problem in certain areas because of Vulcan refugees. A small contingent of Senators was taking up the Terra Prime cause. Prime Minister Nathan Samuels could see the senate and the protestors from his office from the top floor of the UE Ministry.
"Minister, Terra Prime is a minor problem," said Blanch Eddington of UE Security.
"It is a growing problem," said Andrew Quell, Samuels' top aide.
"Ten, maybe fourteen thousand members so far worldwide. They are vocal, but a minority," Blanch said.
"Vocal minorities have been known to sway majorities," said Quell.
"Blanch, I want a full security briefing on them," said Samuels.
"Yes, sir," she said then stood up. "I'll have one for you by tomorrow afternoon."
She exited his office. Samuels turned and looked at Quell.
"Get me Harris from Section 31. We can't let Terra Prime ruin our relationship with the Vulcans. We need them and they need us," he said.
"What will you expect Harris and his shady organization to do?" asked Quell.
"He'll make them into Villains and they eradicate them for us," said Samuels.
"Damn, Nathan, are you sure you want do something this drastic," said Quell.
"I have to, Andrew. If there is a war with the Romulans we are going to need the Vulcans and other Alien races. I will not see Earth conquered," said Samuels.
Quell stood up then said, "I'll contact Harris."
He turned and slowly left the office, leaving Samuels to stare out the window at the protestors. A group of bigoted people could not be allowed to ruin the chances of Earth's survival in a war.
Trip held the coffee in his right hand, while Jefferies walked around the smart table reviewing the holograph designs for what he counted was the thousandth time. He stopped checked the information about a deck, nodded his head, and went back to his review. According to the chronometer on the wall, it was 2100 hundred hours. Trip was so tired not he doubted he could fall asleep.
"Damn it, Tucker, this is one impressive ship," said Jefferies.
"Thank you, sir," said Trip.
Jefferies walked up to him and offered him his right hand to shake. They shook hands.
"Well done, Trip," he said then he turned and looked at the ship again.
"You want to use the experimental Mark II torpedoes," he said.
"We want the most firepower we can get. The Vulcan particle cannons are impressive, but I think the phase cannon updates that R&D are working on will have more punch," said Trip.
"Maybe you should go half particle and half updated phase for now. We can always to a refit and upgrade," said Jefferies.
"Yes, sir," said Trip.
Trip put his coffee cup down on the conference table. He looked back at the Admiral, who looked to be ready to sign off on the designs. He entered his command code then the approval code and transmitted the files to the fleet yards. Turning Jefferies had a big smile on his face.
"My wife is going to kill me for missing dinner but it was definitely worth it," said Jefferies. "As of tomorrow morning, you have two weeks leave. Go relax because when you come back you'll be working your ass off."
Trip grinned, "Yes, sir."
Trip arrived at his bungalow. After letting himself in, he stripped off his jacket then poured himself a drink. Tomorrow he was going to pack and make travel arrangements, but tonight he was going to try to relax and get some rest. He sipped his single malt scotch then sat down on the sofa in the living room.
Unexpectedly, there was someone buzzing his door. He got up and walked over to answer the door. Opening it, he was shocked to see T'Pol in her Vulcan robes standing there.
"T'Pol, this is a surprise," he said.
"May I enter, Captain?" she said.
"Please, enter," he said.
T'Pol came into his bungalow. Trip smiled as she walked past him.
"Please, call me Charles or Trip. I hear captain and I keep looking for Jon," said Trip.
"Charles," T'Pol said softly, "I came tonight because your lack of sleep worries me. I came to offer you neuropressure."
Trip felt his heat skip a beat. For him neuropressure was an intimate, somewhat erotic experience. He doubted it was the small for a Vulcan.
"You don't have to do that, T'Pol," he said.
"I know from experience that when you get into a sleeping habit that it can prove harmful for your health," she said. "I thought a session of neuropressure would set you back on track."
"I have to admit that I miss our sessions," he smiled.
T'Pol felt a warmth spread through her hearing him admit this and seeing that smile.
"Do you wish a session?" she asked him.
Trip found himself looking into her soft eyes and getting lost for a moment. Yes, a neuropressure session sounded good.
"I wouldn't mind one," he replied.
"Disrobe," she said.
"Um, do you want to do it in here or in my bedroom? It might be more comfortable there," he said.
Did I just ask T'Pol into my bedroom? What in the hell am I thinking?
"Your bedroom would be fine, Charles," she said.
Trip walked over to his bedroom door. It opened as he approached and then they entered. T'Pol graceful began to disrobe. When Trip turned to look at her, she was standing there in her undergarments. He found himself having a difficult time swallowing.
"You should take off your clothes, Charles."
"Yeah, I know," he said.
Sitting on the bed, he removed his boots then he stood up.
"I'm going to change into, you know, something more comfortable in my bathroom," said Trip.
"I shall be here, Charles."
He disappeared into the bathroom. T'Pol sat on the edge of his bed. Now that Koss was dead, she was bound to no one. She was free to choose who she bonded with. Why am I considering this a Human? I do not even know if a Vulcan can bond with a Human or if Charles was interested?
Trip exited the bathroom in his sleeping pants and nothing else. He saw T'Pol sitting on the edge of his bed and joined her.
"I haven't asked you, T'Pol, but how are things going for you?" he asked.
T'Pol began to work on the nodes in his shoulders.
"They have been an adjustment," she said. "Recently, I found that Koss, who I was to be bonded to, died in the exodus from Vulcan."
Trip stiffened and T'Pol felt his sinews tense.
"I'm sorry about Koss," he said.
"I am sorry for Koss, Charles, but I must admit to relief that I am no longer bound to be his mate. I am now free to choose my mate," she said.
"So, Vulcans have arranged marriages," said Trip.
"We first have a bonding ceremony as children then when we reach an agreed age, we bond in the marriage ceremony. Our bonds are with only one other and permanent," she explained.
"I see," said Trip, as she started to work a spot into between his shoulder blades. "So what will you do then?"
"Eventually because of biological needs I will have to find a mate," she said.
"I see," he said then suddenly found his muscles loosening to her touch. "I guess there will be a lot of Vulcan males out there needing mates now."
T'Pol unintentional pressured a nerve cluster too hard when she heard his words.
"Ouch, T'Pol, that hurt," snapped Trip.
"I am sorry, Charles. It was an accident."
"It didn't feel like an accident," he replied.
"I forget how fragile Humans are," she retorted.
"I am not fragile," growled Trip.
"A Vulcan is superior in strength and constitution to a Human. It is merely a fact," said T'Pol.
Trip turned and faced T'Pol. For a few long moments they stared into each other's eyes.
"Don't underestimate the Human will," he said.
T'Pol felt a moment of impulse and moved in and kissed him. It was a tentative kiss, hesitant. Trip was surprised by the kiss, but the surprise wore off quickly. He responded by deepening the kiss and soon he was devouring her mouth with pent up passion released. T'Pol felt her own suppressed emotions surge. She pulled away to take a breath.
Trip reached up and touched her cheek then slowly brought his hand up to her right ear and caressed the pointed top of her ear with his thumb and forefinger. Her ear and cheek blushed a greenish copper color. Trip noticed that she was breathing heavily.
"T'Pol, do you want this as much as me?" he asked her.
"Yes, Charles, I do," she said.
"This is going to complicate things some," he said.
"This is private between us," she said.
"Yeah, sure, private," he said then he leaned in and kissed again.
She responded and all her hesitation was gone. She reached up and grabbed his face. The skin on skin opened up her touch telepathy. She could feel his emotions, his desire, his passion, and even his fledgling love for her. These emotions stirred her own stronger Vulcan emotions. She didn't know if she could bond with a Human, but she was sure that tonight she would be mating with one.