ENT WIP: Finding Home 4/? R/S [R]

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Philippe de la Matraque

Jul 6, 2020, 2:30:09 PM7/6/20
Title: Finding Home
Author: Philippe de la Matraque
Part: 4/?
Series: ENT
Rating: R (for discussion of violence and torture)
Pairing: R/S light
Archive: Yes to Trekiverse.org, otherwise, please ask.
Contact: pdelam...@gmail.com
Web: http://gabrielle.sytes.net/Trek/stories/findinghome1.html
Summary: Sequel to Alien Us. Malcolm Reed barely survived to see to be
reunited with Hoshi Sato. But things have taken a downturn and now he
needs a new heart and a way to heal.
Author's note: I deliberately use italics like this *in text** just
because it makes conversion to HTML so much easier.

Star Trek: Enterprise

Finding Home
by Philippe de la Matraque
Sequel to *Alien Us**

Chapter Four

***One month in the past****

*Oh, Malcolm! What happened?" Madeleine had tears in her eyes. She
wore a device on her wrist that was showing a green color on its
display. "Here I've been bemoaning my upcoming lack of existence while
you almost died just the other day! When Mother told me, I admit I
heard a bit of sadness in her voice. But it hit me like a three-ton
weight to the chest. They ordered you off life-support. I couldn't
believe it! When I asked if they'd seen you, she said no and that it
would have been too taxing. Taxing? For them?" She rolled her eyes
and threw up her hands in disgust.

She sighed and focused again. "I was devastated. Would Mother and
Father now be left with no descendants at all? Would they even cry for
you? Mother's nearly in tears every time she sees me, and that's nearly
every week now."

Madeleine sighed and smiled at the camera. "But then you didn't die. I
like to think you were too stubborn and wouldn't let them have the last
say. You always did exceed expectations, didn't you? Others would
think you too small, too sick with allergies. But you outswam them,
excelled at martial arts, and shined with brilliance at maths and
physics. Who would have thought that young man would go on to earn
twenty-eight merit badges? You bested Father by two. Or who would have
thought that one who suffered trauma as you did and our father's
near-constant disapproval would still harbor such strong moral fiber?"

The smile faded and she wiped at her tears. "Oh, Malcolm, I was
thrilled that you survived but I know you must be in a very sorry state
to have been so close to death. I don't pretend to know even one
inkling of what befell you to bring you to that state. But at least you
have survived and are expected to keep doing so, according to Mother.

"For the record, when I do see Father, he keeps his usual stiff upper
lip and never breaks decorum. But I do see a softness in his eyes and
occasionally hear a slight quiver in his voice. He speaks kindly to me,
as always, but it's mother who frets and fawns. She still hopes in a
miracle cure. It's stifling. I gave up on that weeks ago. Everything
they try makes these tumors grow, not shrink."

Another tear made its way down her cheek. "Oh, I do hope they send you
home to recuperate. Then I might get to see you one last time. Or at
least one last time before I lose all my mental faculties altogether. If
that does not come to pass, know then, that I love you, brother. I love
you dearly. No Xindi brain cancer can take that away."

"Madeleine, dear!" A woman's voice from another room. "Come and eat."

Madeleine rolled her eyes again. "Mother's here. End recording."**

Trip checked his messages every hour since he'd returned from his first
meet and greet with R&D. Mom had teased that he'd wear a rut in the
floor going back and forth. He'd returned home for lunch but then just
stayed. Like his father had said, it beat mopin' in a waiting room.

Albert and Miguel had come over from Alabama, too, since they hadn't
seen Trip for years. They brought their teenaged son, Owen, but the boy
just sat on the couch playing video games on his tablet while the
grown-ups talked.

Albert didn't say much really, beyond the usual small talk. It hurt
Trip a little that his big brother couldn't separate his distaste for
Starfleet from his little brother. Miguel, however, took him aside and
asked about Malcolm's injuries. He was a home health nurse by trade, so
Trip gave him a bit more of the details than he'd done with his parents
but not so much about Malcolm being cut open every month or tortured
late. But he did describe the way Malcolm had been found in the desert.

The message came just as everyone was gathering for dinner. Trip was
the last to sit down. "Well?" his mother asked. She paused just as she
was about to start dishing up the fish.

"He's out of surgery," Trip told the family. "Everything's lookin'
good so far. They're gonna try waking him up tomorrow morning. I've
gotta be there for that."

"It will be good for him to see a friendly face," Miguel suggested.

"That's my thinking," Trip agreed. He spooned a few hush puppies on
his plate and passed the bowl around.

"I'm glad your friend is doing better," Albert said. Then he passed
around the tartar sauce. "Owen, put that down. We're at the dinner table."

Owen rolled his eyes but put his tablet on the floor under his chair.

"How old are you now, Owen?" Trip asked, spooning some tartar sauce
onto his own plate. The fish was perfectly seared and it smelled wonderful.

"Fourteen," the boy replied, with still a hint of his Irish brogue.

Trip was shocked. "Wow! You were a lot smaller the last time I saw you."

Miguel put his hand on the boy's shoulder. "He's really shot up this
last year. He's almost taller than me now."

The fish was heavenly. No one could make it as good as Mom. Albert,
Miguel, and Owen left soon after dinner. Owen had school the next
morning. Mom had just a little bit of the pie left so she and Dad let
Trip have it, knowing he'd leave early for San Francisco the next
morning. Trip went to bed early with a full stomach and a homey feeling
he hadn't realized he'd missed so much on *Enterprise.**

When he woke early the next day, he went to the kitchen hoping to make
a quiet breakfast so Mom and Dad could sleep in.

"What would you like?" Trip spun around, surprised at his mother's
voice. She was sitting on a bench in a little alcove set into the
kitchen wall. "I can make you something." She started to rise.

Trip sat beside her instead. She was wearing her pajamas and robe but
she looked ragged and tried. "What're you doing up at this hour? You
and Pop were up talking past midnight."

"I don't sleep so well sometimes," she said, waving him off. She got
up and went to the fridge. "Sometimes she visits me in my dreams. It
seems so real. I wake up hoping she's here but...."

"Mama." Trip got up and took the eggs from her hand. He set those on
the counter then pulled his mother to him. "It's been a couple years
now. You should talk to someone."

"I know," she replied, breaking the hug and picking up the eggs again.
"I just feel silly." She moved to the stove.

"Grief doesn't have an expiration date," Trip told her. "And everyone
goes about it their own way. I got angry and bitter. I went into the
Expanse achin' for revenge. Kept me from sleeping well, too, to be honest."

The eggs started to snap and pop in the pan. "Get a ham slice from the
fridge," she told him. "What helped you?"

"Stopping the Xindi went a long way." He handed her the ham, and she
added it to the skillet. "And Vulcan neuropressure. It's kind of like

"Hadn't considered massage," she admitted. "I suppose I could try that."

Trip gave her a kiss on the cheek then went to the fridge for some
milk. He didn't want her to see his face. He could feel the heat in
his cheeks as he remembered where that Vulcan neuropressure had led.

Dad arrived just as Mom was plating the ham and eggs. "I'll make us
both some, too," she said.

"Sit down, Gracie." Trip's father kissed her on the cheek then went to
the fridge. "I'll get it."

Mom put the plate in front of Trip with a knife and fork then sat down
beside him. "What's the plan for today?"

"Well, I got R&D to wait until after noon." He took a bite of his
scrambled eggs. "I'm gonna be there when they wake Malcolm up. I hope
to spend the whole morning with him. Then I get to go over Malcolm's
adjustments to the EM field."

Mom placed a hand over to touch his arm. "You're a good friend, Trip."

Trip set down his fork for a moment. "I keep thinking about what they
did to him and how he must have felt, thinking we'd left him and Hoshi
there. They gave up hoping we'd come for them. I don't want him to
feel like that again. I can't stay until he's ready for duty again so I
wanna spend as much time as I can before I had back to the ship."

The stove was popping again. "Why did you wait so long, anyway?" Dad

Trip finished his eggs and took a long swig of his mild. "The farther
the shuttle got from *Enterprise**, the farther back in time it went. A
year ago, we weren't anywhere near that planet. Once we caught up, we
had to know we could get them without that happening again. We had to
find them and make a plan to get them out while also destroying all the
evidence they were ever there. Then we found out Malcolm was sentenced
to death. We had to go then, ready or not. Thankfully, it worked out."

"You said it got worse in the end," Mom said. "That was 'worse'? A
death sentence?"

Trip nodded. "Staked out in the desert for hours and hours. He
stopped breathing on the way back to the ship."

"But you got them both," Dad remarked. "You told them about the time
travel?" He sat down and handed Mom a plate.

"Yeah," Trip downed the rest of his milk and stood. "They went from
angry to confused and kind of horrified." He put his dishes in the
sink. "Well, it's time I got goin'." He kissed his mom again then
headed out to the flitter.

Maintenance had done well with the room. The light blueish-gray walls
felt calming to Dr. MacCormack. The overhead lights were bright now but
two lamps graced the room. One nearer the bed and one nearer the
loveseat that had been placed on the opposite side of the room. Two
tall plants stood guard in opposite corners, one at the front of the
room and one at the back.

Her patient was still unconscious, but that was going to change today.
She pulled back the blanket on his feet. His ankles were bandaged
neatly and very tightly to restrict movement. She recovered his feet
and lifted one of his wrists. It was splinted again, which was
understandable, given the damage the spikes had left to the surrounding
bones. She removed a neural stimulator from a pocket on her lab coat
and tested several spots on the palm of his hand. His thumb and fingers
jerked slightly with the current and straightened, just as she'd hoped.

She lifted the blanket from his chest then and eased his hand down. He
was now packed in heavy bandages to protect the new microsutures closing
his chest. The monitor showed a strong, steady pulse underneath. She
covered him back up. The last bandage was wrapped around his head and
covered his right eye. Yamato had assured her that his eyes would still
match in appearance once the bandage came off and his visual acuity
would be restored.

All told, Malcolm reed looked peaceful lying there. "Well,
Lieutenant," she spoke softly, "today is the first day of the rest of
your life. In an hour or so, you'll get to start living it." Commander
Tucker was on his way in from Mississippi. Then they'd wake Malcolm
Reed up.

They were waiting for her when she arrived back in London. Darlene
wasn't sure how they'd known to be here. She had planned on contacting
Madeleine's parents after she had got home.

"Where is Madeleine?" Admiral Reed demanded when she stepped out of the
transport alone.

"There's a lock on her door," Mary Reed added. "What's happened?"

Darlene took a deep breath and straightened her posture. "Mr. and Mrs.
Reed, I'm very sorry to inform you that Madeleine Reed passed away
yesterday afternoon. She's here in the transport. I've brought her home
as she wished."

"Why weren't we notified yesterday afternoon?" the admiral pressed.
Mary just stood quivering as she tried not to cry publicly.

Darlene held firm. "That is not what she wished."

The admiral moved forward a step. "Why was she even away? Why San

So they knew that much. This was delicate. "She wanted to see the
architecture. And her brother."

"Malcolm is in San Francisco?" Mary's voice was so quiet, Darlene had
almost not heard it.

She kept it vague. "Recovering from his wounds."

"And she died there?" The admiral had kept moving closer to the point
Darlene had to step back.

"She went deep into a spell. Black. She didn't come out of it." It
was half the truth. Madeleine hadn't wanted them to know about the
transplants. Darlene figured they'd find out eventually. But she
wasn't going to be the one to tell them. She pulled a PADD from her
bag. It held a copy of the death certificate. Dr. MacCormack had
couched the cause of death in so much medical-ese that it was somewhat
hidden that it had been voluntary, but it very clearly showed the
ultimate cause was the cancer.

The admiral snatched the PADD. "What were you planning on doing with her?"

"I was to deliver her to Naird and Sons Funeral Parlor and then to
contact you. She'd said you'd want a traditional funeral."

"Not with Naird and Sons," Admiral Reed ordered. "And not in London.
We'll take her home, to Kota Bharu."

"She has friends here," Darlene argued, knowing it wouldn't sway him.
"This was her home."

"What that in her wishes?" he asked. "What of her will?"

"I had nothing to do with her will," Darlene told him. It was the
truth. "She only asked me to do as I was doing should the worst happen
while we were away. Naird and Sons was only to hold the body. She said
you could make whatever funeral arrangements you wanted."

"Then we are taking her home." He went to talk to the pilot of the
transport. Darlene ducked back inside. She picked up her bag and the
refrigerated case. She laid one hand on the transport case and said a
silent good-bye. Madeleine was now at the mercy of her parents. Darlene
stepped out of the transport and started walking away. Mary Reed was
still just standing there, but the tears were flowing freely now. "I'm
sorry for your loss," Darlene whispered as she passed. She didn't look
back again.

The black nothingness slowly receded, allowing sensation and memories
began the process of awakening Malcolm Reed. Eventually, he registered
that he was lying on his side with something soft behind him. His chest
felt restricted. What had they done? He didn't remember waking this
time. His arms didn't hurt so it wasn't them. His back felt fine. He
had a vague ache in his leg but that he did remember and it wasn't so

*Hoshi!** he cried out. But she didn't answer. He started to panic.

"Malcolm." A hand touched his hand and he remembered his wrists. The
spikes being pounded in. "Open your eye, Malcolm."

*Eye. One eye. Oh god, not again.** He opened his eye expecting to see
the lab, those three fingers reaching for him. But there was only Trip.

Trip stood and put a hand on Malcolm's shoulder. "It's okay. You're

"Where?" Malcolm's tongue felt thick. His mind felt slowed, like he
was half drunk. He took in the room behind Trip. Blue, soft lighting.
Machines beeped behind his head. It didn't fit.

"Starfleet Medical," Trip said, sitting down again. "Do you remember?
We came to Earth. You needed a new heart."

*Needed**, he thought, catching the tense of the word. He now
recognized one set of beeps as his pulse. "When?"

Trip smiled. "It's all over. You got the new ticker installed and a
few other things to boot. Look! You're squeezing my hand."

Malcolm lifted their hands so he could see it. All his fingers were
wrapped around Trip's. He lifted his other hand and straightened his
fingers. All five of them moved. A bit shakily but they moved.

"Got your ankles done, too, and worked on that eye a bit. Doc said if
they hadn't, it would've gone blind in a few years."

Malcolm used his now working hand to feel his right eye. He felt
bandages instead. "Still there?" Why was it so hard to talk? It
wasn't for lack of breath. That was easier now even with the tightness
around his chest. Instead, he felt his mouth was stuck in slow motion.

"Yeah." Trip smiled. "It's still there. They're hoping you won't need
any more surgeries for a long, long time."

Trip sat back and Malcolm realized there was someone else. A woman in
a blue jacket. No, not a jacket. It was long, like a light coat. A lab
coat. "Lieutenant Reed, I'm Dr. MacCormack, Starfleet Medical. It's
good to see you awake. You maybe still be feeling a bit foggy. You're
still slightly sedated. You must have had some awful dreams or
memories. You were starting to give that new heart a workout." She
lightly touched his chest, through the blanket. "It's still new to the
neighborhood. You need to be gentle with it while it gets settled in."
She stood back up. "How do you feel otherwise?"

Malcolm took a moment to answer. He checked in with all of the things
that had hurt before. He was kind of sleepy but the only pain he felt
was muted. Probably pain meds if he'd just had surgery. He could
breathe easier, move his fingers. "Better."

"Do you think you'd like to sit up a bit?"

He nodded.

She adjusted the pillows behind him and he fell halfway back, not onto
his back but still turned partially toward Trip. Then she took a
controller from somewhere near the bed. The top of the bed began to
rise until he was half sitting up, half leaning back onto the pillows.

He could see more now. The door to his room was open, and people in
and out of uniforms and white lab coats went back and forth beyond it.
There was a tall, leafy plant in the corner. Near the ceiling, there
was a screen. A short brown sofa rested against the wall behind Trip.

"We have you on some good pain medicine. You can push this button,
though, if the pain gets worse or something doesn't feel right. If you
need anything." She pointed to a red button on the controller. "This
controls the screen." Now she pointed to a group of buttons near the
top of the controller. "And these control the bed." Those controls
were on the bottom. She tucked the controller into a pocket on the side
of the bed.

Part of him wanted to panic with the beeps and the tube he realized was
taped to his left arm. But this room was so different from the lab and
even Sickbay that he felt calmer at the same time.

"Are you hungry?" the doctor asked.

He realized he was. Thirsty, too. "Yes."

"I'll send in some gelatin. Gotta start simple, work up to the bigger
stuff." She touched his arm then backed away. "I'll let you and your
friend get reacquainted for bit then I'll check in on you again." She
walked out the door.

Trip leaned toward him. "You're a VIP, ya know. You rated the CMO

"When?" he asked Trip.

Trip didn't let the brevity of the question faze him. "We got into
town two nights ago. Surgery was yesterday morning. It's now Tuesday
morning, twenty-three days since we left *Enterprise.**"

Malcolm lifted one of his hands again and opened and closed his
fingers. "Yesterday?"

Trip smiled. "Yeah. They plugged in some new nerves then put your
wrists back together. Doc says they'll still need time to heal. But
you should be able to walk a bit on those ankles in a day or two."

*Hoshi,** he tried again. He wanted to tell her it worked. He had a
new heart, he could move his fingers. He listened but heard nothing
except the sounds in the room. Suddenly his chest hurt. Not a sharp
pain like something had come undone. The pulse kept beeping steadily.

"Malcolm, what's wrong?" Trip moved forward again, taking one of his

"Hoshi," he breathed. "She's gone."

Trip relaxed but didn't let go. "It's probably just too far. She's
okay. Phlox and the captain won't let anything happen to her. Travis
said he'd drop in on her, too, keep her company."

Malcolm closed his eye and told himself she was there. Just too far.
"I don't know how to do this without her," he whispered. A tear
trickled from his eye.

"I know," Trip said. "You both got each other through everything for
so long. Probably feels like a piece of you is missing."

That was what the pain in his chest was. Her absence.

Dr. Koy Trevon was walking and reviewing some of his colleague's cases
when he stopped suddenly. "Hoshee!" He looked around, wondering who
had said it. It had sounded concerned, like someone was calling out in
fear. It had sounded so close. No, not close. No one looked as if
they were talking to him. No one seemed panicked. Then he realized, it
wasn't audible. He'd heard it in his mind.

He'd only been on Earth a week, but he knew he was the only Betazoid
here. And humans, if he remembered correctly, were not known to be
particularly telepathic. There were anecdotal reports throughout
several centuries of history, but none could be proven. Still, someone
had said that word. He was considered fluent in English, as was
required by the IME. But he didn't know this word. He stopped a passing
orderly. "Excuse me. What kind of word is 'hoshee?'"

"Sounds like a name," the woman replied, and it made sense to Trevon.
He wouldn't be expected to know every name. "Maybe Japanese," the
orderly went on. "It's a region here on Earth. Small island, lots of

He thanked her and she moved on. He looked around again. He was in
the recovery wing. Blue room, number 36A. Ah, there it was. Lt.
Malcolm Reed. He wanted to study the case thoroughly before he
introduced himself. Dr. MacCormack had warned him the patient was
likely highly traumatized by his ordeal. There was at least a terabyte
of records to read up on. Now that he'd noted the room's location, he
went on toward the center of the complex. He found the park there to be
very relaxing. On the way out, he used the PADD to look up Japan.

He found a shaded bench and sat down to read. He heard the word one
more time, though it sounded more distant and not as panicked. It sound
almost excited. But he was engrossed in the reading and tucked it away
for another time's rumination. By four in the afternoon, he realized
he'd forgotten all about his midday meal. The records for this patient
read more like scientific notes on a research subject, though one Dr.
Phlox had inserted his own annotations here and there. One of them
pointed out a discrepancy in the anesthesia used during 'exploratory'
surgeries. The patient would have awoken at some point, still paralyzed
but fully conscious for the remainder of the procedure. It was horrific
when one stopped looking at it from the perspective of the scientists,
whose research notes he was reading. From the subject's point of view,
it was torture and vivisection, over the course of multiple months,
those consisting of forty days each. The subject had even attempted
suicide multiple times after the female of the species was removed.
Phlox had noted her as Ens. Sato.

Dr. Trevon looked up to take a break. He had been sitting in the shade
of a tree, but the shade had moved as the sun traversed the sky. He
stood and stretched muscles that had been sitting still for too long. He
saw some waterfowl in the pond at the center of the park. Birds were
chirping in the trees while small mammals with long, furry tails
skittered up and down and around them. A few patients were enjoying the
park as well as hospital staff on their breaks.

"There you are!" Trevon turned to see Dr. Caletta approaching. Caletta
had been assigned to help him get settled in. Caletta was a likeable
sort, friendly and sympathetic. He had a good rapport with his
patients. He clapped Trevon on the shoulder. "She gave you the new
transplant case, didn't she?"

Trevon indicated the PADD. "Haven't gotten to that part yet. I'm only
about two thirds through it."

"Dr. Novak told me about his wrists. One-inch thick spikes." He held
up a hand to indicate the measurement.

"I've read worse already," Trevon told him. "But, for some reason,
it's classified and I'm not to confer with anyone without Dr.
MacCormack's approval."

Caletta smiled. "She threw right into the deep end."

It took Trevon a beat to get the metaphor. "Ah, well, severe trauma
was my specialty on Betazed. Just imagine, prolonged torture of the
body, physically, and of the mind, telepathically. I've had some really
disturbing cases. I find it very satisfying to watch those cases heal
in mind and body."

"You want some coffee?" Calletta asked.

"That and some food," Trevon replied, placing a hand on his stomach.
"I've apparently missed 'lunch.'"

Calleta's eyebrows went up. "Whoa, and you're only two-thirds through
it. If you don't take a break you won't eat until breakfast tomorrow."

Trevon chuckled. "Lead on, then. I'm famished."

"So what's it like?" Caletta asked as they walked back inside, "going
from a planet full of telepaths to one where there aren't any?"

*Perhaps, and perhaps not,** Trevon thought. "Much quieter," he
answered aloud.

Trip had had to leave to meet with R&D about the EM field Malcolm had
stabilized a few years back. Malcolm didn't feel snubbed. He was too
tired and, frankly, weak to deal with R&D. Besides, he trusted Trip not
to take all the credit. Trip had said R&D had asked for him and that
Trip was just a stand-in.

But once Trip was gone, Malcolm felt less safe, less able to keep his
memories from pushing into the present. Every time he started to doze
off or one of the surgeons--four of them had apparently been
involved--came to check on their handiwork, his skin started to crawl
and the beeps on the machine came quicker. That prompted and influx of
sedative which, while it didn't put him to sleep, made it harder to
think straight and remember that he was on Earth and not Sharu.

It was easier with Dr. MacCormack. Maybe because she was a woman. No
one he'd run into in Zheiren had been female. Some of the nurses who
checked on him more frequently were women, too. It helped. He
preferred them to the men.

The gelatin he was given kept him less hungry but he never quite felt
full. It did, however, make him feel less thirsty. To try and occupy
his mind with something other than horrible memories or the absence of
Hoshi, he'd turned on the screen. As he scrolled through the offerings,
he found an ironic choice. The Lord of the Rings trilogy from the early
twenty-first century, all fifteen hours of the Extended Edition. So he
started the first one and tried to lose himself in the story to keep his
mind from wandering.

Trip returned in the early evening. Malcolm paused the movie so Trip
could tell him about his meeting with R&D.

"They're really excited about the EM field," Trip told him. "And kind
of embarrassed they didn't come with a way to stabilize it themselves."

"'Necessity is the mother of invention,'" Malcolm quoted. It was a
little easier now to talk. "We needed to block the web from expanding."

"Right," Trip agreed. "So now they think they can adapt it to lots of
things, like brig doors or quarantine facilities. Anything with a
frame. But Admiral Issu's got bigger plans. He has challenged them to
put it to protecting ships by 2160."

"That's a big leap," Malcolm commented. "The frame balances the field
from all four directions. It can't bend to wrap around a ship."

"Yep." Trip sat on the small sofa and leaned back, crossing his ankles
in front of him. "I'm not even sure an EM field is the right technology.
It's relatively weak. It could hold off the web creature and you used
a phase pistol to test it. But could it stop a torpedo?"

"Or a directed energy weapon like our plasma cannons?" Malcolm
remembered tweaking and testing the field back on *Enterprise.** It
seemed like a million years ago, another life.

"So that's what's buzzing at R&D now. Brainstorming applications of
the EM field technology and trying to come up with something to wrap
around a starship. I get to stay for a copy weeks and help with that.
We may even come back with *Enterprise** for some upgrades by the time
the mission is over."

"Or get the materials to upgrade on the fly," Malcolm suggested.
"Better than being stuck in space dock."

Trip shrugged. "I don't know. It would give Hoshi time to see her
family, and a certain Tactical Officer I happen to know."

"I'll still be here?" Malcolm had thought he'd go back with Trip, let
Phlox take over his care again once he'd recovered enough.

"You're stuck here for a while, Malcolm." Trip leaned forward. "You
still have a lot of healing to do." He smiled playfully. "And frankly,
Lieutenant, you're out of shape."

"A vain attempt to slow them down," Malcolm told him.

The smile disappeared. "I'm sorry it didn't work. 'Course, then you
weren't really able to exercise all that much anyway."

Malcolm shook his head. "Even if I'd had been in the best shape of my
life, I couldn't have fought them off."

Trip nodded. "I've seen 'em," he admitted. "The ones with the teeth
anyway. And Bayzhoo. He had a friend besides you. He showed us where
you were. He showed us Bayzhoo first."

"Think he was one of the smaller ones." Malcolm remembered a face in
the window of the door to his room. "T-Rex was one of the big ones.
Killed Bayzhoo." He didn't realize his hand had gone to his neck.
T'Rex's fingers were wrapped around it, squeezing, lifting him like
nothing more than a rag doll.

"No Lord of the Rings codename for that one?"

Malcolm didn't reply. He had a faraway haunted look. "Malcolm?" Trip
tried again. "Are you still with me?" He stood up.

One of the machines started beeping madly. By the time Trip made it to
the bed, Malcolm's eyes were rolling up under his lids. The beeping
slowed and Malcolm passed out.

Trip realized that must have been a particularly bad memory he'd gotten
lost in. Trip wished he'd gotten to see some of the stuff Phlox had
seen. What had T'Rex done that terrified Malcolm so much that the
sedative put him to sleep instead of just slowing him down?

Trip turned to go back to the loveseat and was surprised to see Dr.
MacCormack in the doorway. "That must have been a bad one." She leaned
against the door frame. "I was hoping you being here would make that
less likely."

Trip frowned, unsure of her intent. Was she just teasing or would she
tell him he'd have to leave. "What he's been through isn't going to go
away just because I'm here," he countered.

"No, it isn't." She came further into the room. "What led up to it?"

Trip wasn't sure he could trust her, but she probably had everything
Phlox had seen anyway. "Did you know he deliberately weakened his body
in an attempt to slow the surgeries?"

"No." She went to the chair and turned it to face Trip before sitting
down. "My notes--and there are many--are from the scientists'
perspective with certain annotations by Dr. Phlox. My guess is they
didn't feel it warranted postponing."

"Well, he said he couldn't have fought them anyway. I said I'd seen
one of the toothy ones. He said it was a small one. Mentioned a big
one he called T-Rex. He touched his neck."

MacCormack thought for a moment. "One Colonel Zhenah, a Raptor,
started intervening in the later weeks. At one point, the plan called
for seeing if the 'alien' could breathe underwater."

"Oh shit!" Trip dropped his head into his hands. "He's aquaphobic.
They drowned him, didn't they?"

"With Zhenah's involvement, it wasn't as scientific as the Wingeds
would have it. He shocked them with his cruelty. Apparently, he
grabbed the 'subject' by his neck and threw him toward a tank of water,
then he pushed him into it and held him down. One hand was apparently
big enough to wrap all the way around the subject's neck, leaving
puncture wounds from his claws. Once revived, the subject scrambled
under a bed like a wild animal."

Trip sighed, picturing one of those bigger than the ones he'd seen.
That one's hand had hardly been bigger than Trip's. But big enough to
wrap around Malcolm's neck? Holding him under water? "They didn't know
it by they used his worst fear against him."

"So that was arguably one of the worst memories," MacCormack surmised.
"Perhaps avoid talk of the 'toothy' ones for now. It's good for him to
talk about what happened, but he just got that heart." She touched his
shoulder as she got up. "Sedative should ease up after fifteen minutes.
He'll probably wake up in an hour or so. Good time for you to grab a
bite to eat, perhaps."

Trip nodded. He was hungry. He looked up at her. "He used codenames
for the others. One name Bayzhoo, he called Smeagol."

"Ah yes!" She smiled. "I caught the Tolkien vibe when he called
himself Samwise Gamgee under narcotics and proceeded to launch into
twelve different languages to tell the story of his quest to destroy the
One Ring. His profile didn't mention him being a linguist."

Trip didn't reply to that. He had promised. Besides, he didn't think
Malcolm's telepathy could affect his health one way or the other. Dr.
MacCormack didn't need to know. "I think you're right about getting a
bite. I wouldn't want to eat a burger in front of him when he's stuck
with gelatin. He likes pineapple, by the way. They got that flavor?"

"I'll look into it," she said. "Thanks for the intel." She took out a
scanner and moved toward Malcolm's bed so Trip left and turned toward
the canteen.

Dr. Trevon kept reading, right through dinner and on into the night. He
was sure Lt. Reed was going to be one of the most traumatized clients
he'd ever worked with. And he'd worked with some incredibly severe cases.

He once had a young woman of twenty-nine, whose father had kept her
hidden in a bunker under his basement, drugging her food to curtail her
telepathy and her reproduction capacities. She was raped hundreds of
times in secret and no one had any clue she was even down there or that
the bunker existed at all. Even her mother hadn't known what had become
of her daughter, lost at the age of seventeen. Her father had played the
grieving father to a tee. Police had surmised that she must have been
murdered since no one had heard from her even telepathically since her
disappearance. But as no body was found, the case went unresolved for a
dozen years.

Only a bout of illness brought an end to her abuse and imprisonment. As
she was unable to eat, the concentrations of the drugs in her system
dropped and everyone within a two-kilometer radius had heard her screams
in their minds. Her telepathic ravings got her out of the basement and
into an asylum. It took four years of working with her, daily at first,
to bring about a level of healing. She'd never be a full-fledged member
of society. She had a deep distrust of older men. Trevon had left her
in the custody of her doting mother three years ago. He transferred her
to a female therapist for long-term care. Her father was still in
prison and expected to remain so for many more years.

Malcolm Reed would never get that kind of justice for the wrongs done
to him. He was rescued from Zheiren, and Zheiren presumably went on
without him, confused but ultimately, unpunished. Though he had only
spent one year there and not twelve, it had been agonizingly painful
even when the scientists hadn't intended that to be the case. His
treatment had eventually devolved into outright torture and a hideous
death sentence carried out in the desert from which he was extracted.
With one exception, the last part of the data he'd been given changed
wholly to Dr. Phlox's records. He noted the anesthesia discrepancy
again and the precarious condition of the patient before and after his
near-death on *Enterprise** after his parents had ordered him removed
from life support. Trevon made a note to explore that. It seemed odd
to Phlox that they hadn't wanted to see their son and were so quick to
give up on him. Trevon agreed.

But it was Phlox's last note that stood out to him. The patient had
been sharing a quiet breakfast with one Ensign Hoshi Sato when he
suffered an infarction. The determination was made that he needed a new
heart so he was sent to Earth for transplant. The last notes were from
Dr. MacCormack detailing all the transplants he'd received and the
positive prognosis resulting.

Ensign Sato's given name was Hoshi and she had been with the patient in
the beginning. 'Hoshee.' His patient, Lieutenant Malcolm Reed was the
source of the word, the name. He was the telepath.

Alan Heah

Jul 14, 2020, 1:05:41 PM7/14/20
Just wanted to say that because I was so behind on clearing my email for months, I stopped by just to have a look... and was captivated enough to quick-read Parts 2 to 4 in one sitting.

I had shied away due to the previous tortures visited on Reed and Sato, but still remain drawn to the human drama of the developing story.

Thank you for continuing to write.
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