Soul Searching

 

 

By Jim Guy jimguy46@hotmail.com

 

Disclaimer. Enterprise characters belong to the creators of the show. Only the OC’s and the story are mine. Any similarity to another show is the fault of the muses. I make no income from this story. Everyone knows they do not have money on Starships

 

The 1/7th Rangers were never called Rangers in episode, The Expanse. They came into being in my story "Into the Valley of Death". So far my OC’s are: Sergeant Major Benjamin Snowden, Sergeant Joe Layne, Sergeant Tina Alvarado, and Sergeant Manda Alvarado. Dana Heard belongs to Dee

 

 

 

Commander Trip Tucker walked into his quarters, tired and confused and plopped into a chair in front of his computer. He hung his head down.

 

“Computer, Commander’s personal log command code India Alpha Mike Alpha Delta Oscar Golf,”

 

He opened a drawer in his desk and pulled out a bottle of Tennessee Whiskey and a glass. He poured the brown liquid into the glass and set the bottle down. He took a drink and coughed as the liquid burned his throat.

 

“I have no idea what the fell is happening to me. I used to be confident in everything I did. Now I find myself unable to sleep, eat or even do my job. All I can think of is Lizzie and killing the people responsible for her death.”

 

His door beeped.

 

“Computer pause recording. Come in.”

 

The door opened and Sergeant Major Snowden stood in the doorway. “May I come in?”

 

“Sure Sergeant Major, care for a drink?” Trip took out another glass. “Good old Tennessee Whiskey.”

 

“You buying? Sure.” He took the bottle and poured a drink. He held the bottle up to see only an inch left. He put the bottle to his lips and upended it. In one gulp the bottle was empty. He grinned and put the bottle on the table. Picking up his drink he wandered over to the porthole and looked out.

 

Trip watched Snowden finish off his last bottle. “Is there something on your mind, Sergeant Major?”

 

Ben upended the glass and polished off the drink. “As a matter of fact there is Commander. You are not my Superior Officer so I can say any damn thing I want.”

 

“What is it you want to say?”

 

Ben meandered over to the table and picked up Trips drink and gulped the Whiskey down. Trip jumped up. “Hey that was my last bottle. What the hell do you think you are doing?”

 

“Saving your life Sonny. Now sit your ass down and listen.”

 

“You can’t talk to me that way.”

 

“You could always try and stop me. In fact, I wish you would try. Before you do let me promise you this. You take a swing at me and within five minutes you will be on the wrong side of an airlock. Everyone will be sadden to hear that Commander Charles Tucker the Third committed suicide rather than facing his demons.”

 

“Is that a threat Sergeant Major? I don’t kindly to threats.”

 

“And I don’t take kindly to ass holes who get my people killed.”

 

Trip gulped and sat down.

 

“Now Commander what is your problem?”

 

“What do mean what is my problem? Hell you wouldn’t understand. My sister. . .”

 

“Don’t you even give me that crap, Commander. Every one of the Rangers lost family. I lost my wife and daughters and thanks to you now my niece. So don’t you dare insult me or those who died with that crap.”

 

Trip looked down at the floor. He shook his head. “Hell I don’t know anymore. You know I was one of the people who built the warp 5 engine. That’s how I met the Cap’n. I was a Lieutenant back then and I helped him during the warp 2 flight. That’s how I got this job.”

 

“So you are telling me you know more about the warp 5 engine than anyone alive?”

 

Trip sat up straight. “Damn straight.”

 

“Then tell me Commander why the hell do you let your crew run Engineering. Oh sure you are there when everything goes wrong, but you are never there on the day to day run of the mill shifts. You let everyone else do your job.”

 

“I have duties on the bridge, at least I did. Suddenly I have not only lost my sister but all my friends.”

 

“I doubt that Commander. You still have your friends, I don’t know why, but you do.”

 

“Is that why the Captain barely speaks to me and then only in an office capacity? Hell, even Phlox sends me off to get massaged by T’Pol. I feel used.”

 

Snowden laughed. “You feel used. Have you thought about how she feels? She is a Vulcan and Vulcans do not like touching others, let alone humans. You have her rubbing her hands all over you.”

 

“Phlox sent me to her.”

 

“I am sure she jumped to the chance to rub herself all over you. Give it a rest Commander. T’Pol prostituted herself to help you. About the only thing more vulgar is you to have sex with her.”

 

“I never.”

 

“I know that. Let me ask you something. How would you feel if your sister had to do what T’Pol is doing? What would your reaction?”

 

“I’d beat the crap out of the guy.”

 

“But it’s all right for T’Pol because she is a Vulcan?”

 

“I guess your right. What am I going to do?”

 

“You are going to pull your head out of your ass and get with the program. You are going to figure out why you are so screwed up.”

 

“How?”

 

“You are suffering from a classical case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It was first diagnosed after the Vietnamese War in the 1970’s. Before that it was sometimes called shell shock, the thousand-yard stare. You need to talk to someone who has been in there.”

 

“Who would that be?”

 

“Do you believe in God, Commander?”

 

“I never have been religious. My grandmother was a staunch Southern Baptist and she used to drag me to church every Sunday. I quit going when I was 14. Why?”

 

“Do you believe in an afterlife?”

 

“I don’t know. Why?”

 

“Do you believe in the statement that things happen?”

 

“I guess. Why?”

 

“Sometimes things happen that are tragic, but maybe there is some good from it.”

 

“I still don’t follow you.”

 

“You think about everything that has happened in the last few months. Then we will talk again. In the meantime, quit drinking, get some sleep and get back to doing your job.” He started for the door.

 

“I don’t know Sergeant Major, hell the Cap’n acts like he doesn’t trust me.”

 

Snowden whirled around. “You don’t know? Think about it. You were personally responsible for the deaths of two people. You lost the trust of the Captain. He is still your friend but you will have to earn his trust all over again.”

 

Trip nodded. “The Cogenitor. Yeah I guess I was responsible for her death.”

 

“Huh, is that the only one you feel responsible for?”

 

Trip looked at Snowden. The Sergeant Major’s eyes cut right through him. “I. I was responsible for Joanna’s death also.”

 

“You bet your sweet ass you were, Commander. Not one Ranger trusts you. They don’t hate you, but they don’t trust you. You have to earn a Ranger’s trust. Think about it.”

 

Trip watched the Sergeant Major walk out and the door close. He looked at the two empty glasses and the empty bottle. He hung his head for a few minutes, then stood up. He pulled off his uniform top and sat down on his bed. Pulling his boots of, he lay down.

 

“Computer play file Lizzie.”

 

He closed his eyes as the recording played.

 

“Hey big brother. It’s been a long time since we spoke and even longer since you have been gone to seek you fame and fortune in the outer space. You always wanted to be a Space Cowboy. Guess you got the chance.

 

I know that this will take awhile to get through channels. Starfleet told me that it would take about three weeks. Trip, I won’t be here when you get back. It seems that your baby sister has developed a mass that is killing me. The Doctors have said they can remove it, but the damage has spread to my lymph nodes. It is my own fault, you know I don’t like Doctors. This time your baby sister waited too long. They tell me I have less than six months before it is all over.

 

I am not afraid, Trip. I have made peace with my condition and my maker.

 

I know you big brother. You will try and come charging to my rescue as you did when we were in school. You do know you chased off six of my boyfriends.

 

Good bye big brother. Live long and prosper as our old Chemistry teacher used to say.

 

Love ya,

 

Lizzie.

 

 

The recording end to be replaced by a soft snore.

 

 

Trip slowly opened his eyes. He was freezing. As he turned to adjust the temperature control he saw a wisp of a figure standing a few feet away. Trip squinted and rubbed his eyes. “Who are you?”

 

“Murderer.”

 

“Who me, I didn’t murder any one. Who are you?”

 

“You mean that you don’t remember those you kill?”

 

“Who have I killed?”

 

“Forgotten the Cogenitor already?”

 

“She killed herself.”

 

“Because of your interference in her society.”

 

Trip hung his head.

 

“You killed me.”

 

“Joanna? I am sorry it was an accident.”

 

“You lied to me. You gave me the wrong equipment and then you lied and told me the wrong time. You knew I only had so much time and you lied. I was in there ten more minutes than was safe. Now I am dead and you don’t even remember or care.”

 

“I do remember and I do care. That’s why I can’t sleep. I can’t eat, I can’t concentrate.”

 

“You want sympathy from me? I will never eat again. I will sleep forever and there is no waking up.”

 

“What do you want me to do?”

 

“Take responsibility for your actions and own up to your faults.”

 

Trip lay down on his bed as the wisp dissolved into nothingness. He closed his eyes as he thought about Joanna.

 

 

Trips door beeped. “Come in.” He was surprised to see Sergeant Heard and Sergeant Layne, both of whom were carrying sidearms. “Do your weapons mean you are not here on a social call.”

 

Dana looked at Joe. “Relax Commander, all the Rangers are armed at all times. We came here to talk.”

 

Trip motioned to the two chairs. “Have a seat.”

 

Joe shook his head. “We prefer to stand. That way it won’t be construed that we are friends with you.”

 

“So why are you here?”

 

Dana grabbed Trip by the shirt and slammed him against the bulkhead. “Joanna was our friend and you killed her. You miserable piece of scum. You killed her.”

 

Joe put his hand on Dana’s shoulder. “Cool it Dana, we didn’t come here to do him physical harm, as much as we would like to.”

 

Trip whipped the sweat from his forehead as Dan let him go. “Look, I know I screwed up, I was so sure that all aliens were alike and Phlox was lying to me. I figured he told me the time as a guideline not the maximum time. If I could have gotten in there I would have. Joanna was the smallest person.”

 

Dana got into his face. “So why did you give her the wrong equipment?”

 

“I figured that if she put in the temporary one, we would have to go back in again, so I gave her the permanent one.”

 

Joe pulled Dana back. “Didn’t you think she would figure it out? Joanna was a damned good Engineer and a Ranger. Once she was in there, she would have done the job, even if it meant her life. Which it did.”

 

“Look, I know you all lost people. I have been so consumed with destroying those bastards. I don’t know how you can go about your business without mourning, without thinking about them.”

 

Dana sat down. “I think about them everyday but I don’t cry. My mourning will come later, after the mission. There will be a lifetime to mourn after we complete our mission.”

 

Joe walked up to Dana and put his hand on her shoulder. “All of the Rangers feel the some way. We will mourn later, for now we prepare for the mission. I suggest you do the same.”

 

Dana reached up and squeezed Joe’s hand. “That’s all we have to say Commander.” She got up and together, Joe and Dana left.

 

Trip stared at the closed door. After a few minutes he lay back on the bed and closed his eyes.

 

 

“Charlie. Charlie.”

 

Trip opened his eyes again. “Lizzie?

 

“Charlie, Charlie, Charlie. What are you doing to yourself?”

“I don’t know. I am out to revenge your death and I ended up killing a shipmate. All because of those bastards.”

 

“Charlie, don’t lie to me and don’t lie to yourself. Charlie, it was a blessing to die. Do you know how I would have died?”

 

“No. If they hadn’t killed you would still be alive.”

 

“Charlie, I was in a hospital. I had less than a month to live. All of my organs were shutting down and my muscle had shriveled up. I couldn’t breathe on my own and I was in pain. No painkillers would help. Charlie I am thankful that it was quick. Now I am at peace.”

 

Trip buried his face in his hands. “You want me to forgive them?”

 

“Charles Tucker, you are a Starfleet Officer and you have a mission to complete. Listen to the Rangers they know all about continuing their mission. Their families are with me as is Joanna and the Cogenitor. Take care of yourself Charlie and stop feeling sorry for yourself.”

 

He looked up to find an empty room. He could see his breath in front of him. He wrapped a blanket around himself and collapsed onto the bed.

 

 

 

Captain Archer sat in his command chair. “Archer to Engineering.”

 

“Crewman Lee here Sir.”

 

“Where is Commander Tucker?”

 

“I don’t now Sir. He had the day off yesterday but he has not reported for duty yet.”

 

“Has anyone looked for him?”

 

“We called his room but there was no answer. I had some one go to his quarters but there was no answer.”

 

“Have him call me when he comes in. Archer out.”

 

“Aye, Sir.”

 

Archer frowned and looked at T’Pol. “Have you seen him?”

 

“No Sir, not since we came back from almost being transformed.”

 

“Archer to Sergeant Major Snowden.”

 

“Snowden here.”

 

“Ben have you seen Commander Tucker?”

 

“Not since the night before last.”

 

“You didn’t . . .?”

 

“I drank his booze, we talked and I left. He was still alive when I last saw him. What’s up Captain?”

 

“He appears to be missing. I am having Security look for him. Would your men mind helping?”

 

“Not at all. We will check the airlock first.”

 

“The airlock?”

 

“Just joking Captain. We will due a ship wide search. I presume he is not in Engineering.”

 

“No he has not shown up for his shift.”

 

“Is that unusual?”

“What is that supposed to mean.”

 

“I think we should discuss that at another time, Captain.”

 

“I agree. Please find Commander Tucker.”

 

“Yes, Sir.”

 

 

Two Rangers walked the corridor and stopped at Tucker’s door. One knocked ad the other dismantled the door lock. Joe looked at Dana working on the lock. “Have you gone into another line of work, like cat burglary?”

 

Dana laughed. “Never put all your eggs in one basket, Joe. It never hurts to have a second career option.” The door opened and the Rangers saw Commander Tucker lying on his bed. The air in the room was chilled.

 

Dana checked his pulse. “Too bad, Joe, he is still alive.”

 

“Oh well, can’t have everything.” Joe punched the comm button. “Joe Layne to Doctor Phlox.”

 

“Phlox here.”

 

“Doc, we are in Tucker’s quarters. We need a med team here on the double. He is alive but just barely. Oh and bring thermo blankets.”

 

“On the way Sergeant, Phlox out.”

 

“Layne to Captain Archer.”

 

“Archer her.”

 

“We found him Captain, in his quarters.”

 

“Drunk?”

 

“No Sir. Almost frozen to death. If it was any colder in him room, the Chef could turn it into a walk in freezer and hang meat.”

 

Phlox and two medics entered the room. “I didn’t think you could turn the thermometer down this low. What is the Temperature?”

 

Dana walked over to the thermometer. “It is set at twenty degrees Celsius but the temperature is minus ten.”

 

Phlox looked to the two Rangers. “How is that possible.”

 

Joe looked at the Doctor. “Don’t know. Maybe the Engineering Marvel can tell you when he wakes up.”

 

“You don’t care for Commander Tucker do you?”

“Not much. Does anyone?”

 

“It is not my place to say.”

 

“Doctor, is it your place to degrade the Sub-Commander into laying hands on a human? You know Vulcans do not like to touch others.”

 

“I was attempting to help Commander Tucker sleep.”

 

“Tell you what. You get him up and around and the Rangers will help him to sleep.”

 

 

 

Two days later Tucker left sickbay and headed for his quarters. He finally had a restful sleep and was now warm. As he walked down the deserted corridor, he turned a corner and stopped. Five hooded and caped individuals stood in front of him. He turned around and found five more behind him. The people advanced upon him and pinned his arms. They did not say a word as they gagged him and led him to the shuttle hanger.

 

Trip struggled but he knew he could not beat ten people, especially with his hands tied behind him. He couldn’t see well as they walked into the dimly lit bay. A single chair sat in the bay with a spotlight on the chair. He was led to the chair and placed in it unceremoniously. He hands were untied and the gag was removed. As his eyes adjusted he saw close to fifty people with hoods and capes standing just outside of the lit area. He watched as a man approached. He recognized Sergeant Major Snowden.

 

“Sergeant Major, I will see to it that you spend the rest of your life in the brig.”

 

“Commander Charles Tucker the Third, you are here for a tribunal on the charge of endangerment of the Enterprise crew, the potential compromise of this mission and the death of Lieutenant Joanna Wheelwright.”

 

“You have no right.”

 

“We have every to defend ourselves against a person whose action endanger over one hundred people on this ship. If this mission fails because of you, then our species may cease to exist. Now let me tell you have this will play out. We will present evidence and you will have the right to question the witnesses. The jury will consist of twelve people chose by lot. They will vote by placing a black or a white marble in a bowl. White for acquittal, black for guilty. It will require a unanimous decision to convict. The jurors will retain the marble they do not cast.”

 

Trip looked at Snowden. “Captain Archer will hear about this.”

 

“Eventually.” Snowden turned around and sat down behind a table, which Trip could make out in the shadows. “Commander Tucker, how do you plead?”

 

“Not guilty. Where is my attorney? I demand council.”

 

“Request denied. You are not on Earth, although this is an Earth ship. Due to the heinous crimes of which you are accused and since the most recent crimes was against the Rangers, we will try you.”

 

“There are more than the Rangers present.”

“You are right. It seems that some of the Starfleet crew have a problem with you also.”

 

“And what happens after this kangaroo court?”

 

“If you are acquitted, then you go free. If you are convicted, you will be put in a casket and shot out of the torpedo tube. You will have oxygen for twenty-four hours. Enough time for you to contemplate on your crimes."

 

Trip bowed his head.

 

Snowden motioned to a guard. “We will pass a jar around with ten white marbles and the rest black. Everyone will take one. Those who draw a white one will take their place next to this table. One by one ten people showed a white ball and came forward to take their place as jurors.

 

Snowden stood up. “One the matter of the death of the Cogenitor. Is there anyone here who can testify as to the circumstances behind the death?”

 

A member of the jury stepped forward. Snowden motioned for the witness to go to the witness station. “The voice will be electronically altered so that the identify will remain hidden. Witness state what you know.”

 

“Commander Tucker took it upon himself to judge a society based on his own ideas and taught the Cogenitor to read and attempt to become free. He was specifically ordered not to interfere.”

 

“What happened?”

 

“The Cogenitor asked for asylum which was denied. The being returned to their ship and later committed suicide.”

 

“In other words, Commander Tucker cost the lives of two beings. The Cogenitor and prevented the birth of another being. Commander Tucker has become the first Human to be a birth control device of aliens.”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Commander Tucker, do you wish to question the witness?”

 

“No.”

 

Snowden nodded. “In the matter of dereliction of duty, is there a witness?”

 

An individual stepped forward. “Commander Tucker is the Chief Engineer but is rarely in Engineering. He is either in the gym, on the bridge, on away mission, watching polo with the Captain.”

 

“In other words, everywhere but Engineering?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Who is running Engineering then?”

 

“The crew.”

 

Snowden motioned for the individual to depart. “In the matter of the death of Joanna Wheelwright, who will speak?”

 

A small individual stepped forward. “Lieutenant Wheelwright was told that there were two possibilities. One to place a patch or place install a permanent piece of equipment.”

 

Snowden look at the witness. “What would be the difference?”

 

“If the permanent repair was made, Lieutenant Wheelwright would run out of time and die.”

“What happened?”

 

“Commander Tucker gave her the permanent part and then when she called for the time, Commander Tucker lied and gave her the wrong time.”

 

“Would the Lieutenant recognize the difference?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“So if the Lieutenant recognized the difference could she have retreated?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“What would have happened if she had retreated?”

 

“Enterprise would have been destroyed.”

 

“So you are saying that Lieutenant Wheelwright made a conscious decision to sacrifice her life to save the Enterprise?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Commander Tucker, do you wish to question this witness?”

 

“No.”

 

 

“Now to the most recent crime. The degradation of a member of the crew who has been forced to prostitute themselves in order for you to sleep.”

 

Trip jumped up. “I protest, I have done nothing wrong. T’Pol and the Doctor convinced me to receive treatment from the Sub-Commander.”

 

Ben stood up. “Commander Tucker do you know that Vulcans do not like to touch others, especially humans? That it disturbs them a great deal?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Then by your own admission you have degraded Sub Commander T’Pol?”

 

“It was the Doctor’s suggestion.”

 

Snowden looked around. “Maybe we should space the Doctor.” He walked around the table. “Commander how do you explain the accusations?”

 

“They are all true. I did interfere, against orders and cost the Cogenitor’s death and the prevention of a new life. I have been upset about my sister’s death that I have neglected my duties. Because of my hatred against alien, I presumed that Doctor Phlox had not told the truth and there fore I did switch the equipment and gave Joanna the wrong time. I am extremely sorry about that.”

 

Trip sat down and buried his face in his hands. “ I am sorry.”

 

Snowden stood up. “By your own admission you have verified the incidents presented by the witnesses. The jury will now decide your fate. Guards take Commander Tucker to the Captain’s Ready Room.”

 

A guard took a bowl, collected the jury votes and gave the bowl to Snowden. He held up each ball as he pulled them out. Wordlessly he placed them on the table in front of him. The crowd gasped as each ball was shown.

 

“A jury has voted on the charges. The verdict is irrevocable, as is your fate. You are all dismissed except for the jury.”

 

When they all left, Snowden turned to the jury. “You may now take off your hoods and capes. Ten hoods and capes fell to the floor. Snowden looked into the faces of the jury. Sergeant Heard, Sergeant Layne, Sub-Commander T’Pol, Lieutenant Reed, Sergeant Tina Alvarado, Sergeant Manda Alvarado, Crewman Cutler, Sergeant Chang, Ensign Sato and Captain Archer.

 

Snowden nodded. “Captain, will you join me in giving Commander Tucker the jury’s decision?”

 

Archer grimly nodded. “Trip has been a friend for a long time. I will give him the verdict.”

 

Snowden looked at the jurors. “Very good. Jurors, please report to the Ready Room after Commander Tucker leaves.”

 

Trip stood as Archer and Snowden walked into the Ready Room. He looked at the stone cold emotionless expressions on the two men. “So when do you space me?

Archer looked at Trip. “When do you want to be spaced?”

 

“Might as well get it over with as soon as possible.”

 

Snowden looked at Trip and then Archer. “He seems eager to die.”

 

Archer nodded at Ben. “He does doesn’t he.” He turned to Trip. “I have some bad news for you Commander.”

 

Trip gulped.

 

“It seems that we are fresh out of space caskets.”

 

Trip stared at Archer. “I don’t understand.”

 

“The verdict was ten white balls.”

 

“But I admitted guilt to all charges. I condemned myself.”

 

“And that Commander Tucker. Trip. That was what it was all about. Take an hour off then get your but to Engineering before I throw you in the brig. Dismissed.”

Trip left the Ready Room, relieved that he was still alive. ‘I wonder what the vote was?’

 

 

Snowden looked up as the door opened and the jurors walked in. “Please show me the marbles you retained. He was surprised when he looked at the faces of those holding the marbles. Sergeant Heard - black, Sergeant Layne - black, Sub-Commander T’Pol - white, Lieutenant Reed - black, Sergeant Tina Alvarado - white, Sergeant Manda Alvarado - black, Crewman Cutler – black, Sergeant Chang - black, Ensign Sato – black, Captain Archer - white. Snowden looked at the three holding white marbles as they had voted for conviction. “I thank you all for your cooperation. Captain, T’Pol, Tina please stay the rest may leave.

 

Snowden, Jon, T’Pol and Tina sat down as the door swished closed. I know this has been hard on the three of you. I will not ask you why you voted the way you did. I will ask the next logical question. Can you in your hearts work with Commander Tucker or we will need to space him?”

 

T’Pol cleared her throat. “I voted as logic demanded, Sergeant Major. The jury has vindicated Commander Tucker and yes I can work with him.”

 

“Tina? Sergeant Major, I knew Joanna very well as you well know. Joanna would not want me to continue a vendetta against him. It will take time and maybe never until I can trust him again.”

 

Ben nodded. “Captain?”

 

“I have known Trip for a long time. He is the best Chief Engineer. Hopefully this will make him look inside himself. Enterprise needs all of its crew and I need my Chief Engineer.”

 

Ben nodded. “From this day forward, Commander Tucker will always wonder what the vote was. One white marble was all that it took to acquit him. Time will tell if this trial will change him.”

 

Archer stood up. “Ben do you trust him?”

 

“Not in the slightest. But I will work with him. I promise I won’t space him.”

 

Archer nodded. “Ok, let’s get back to our mission and put this behind us.”