"So what d'you think they are, then?"
"Do you want my professional opinion or my personal one?"
"Fine then," Malcolm Reed said, picking up one of the objects and staring intently at it
from all angles. "I think you've brought back two pieces of junk."
Charles "Trip" Tucker winced. "Ouch," he commented. "What's your professional opinion?"
"That was my professional opinion," Malcolm stated crisply, and he handed over the
metallic oval to Trip. "See for yourself."
The engineer took it and started turning it over in his hands. "But... the scans," he said,
"they said these were some kind of power source. We detected the power signatures. I... "
"No," Malcolm interrupted. He picked up the second artefact and held it up in the harsh armoury
lights. "I'm sorry, Trip. It really doesn't look as though there's anything to them."
"S'remarkable though," Trip murmured, taking a closer look at the smoothly rounded surfaces.
"They look damn authentic."
The armoury officer shrugged and set his load back down on the work surface. "Just because
they look real doesn't necessarily mean that they are," he said fairly, leaning on the surface with both hands. "Was there
anything else down there?"
Trip shook his head. "Nope," he affirmed, examining the object in his hands all the more
closely, "just some empty villages and some of these dotted round the place." One of his index fingers came across a small
indentation on the side currently facing him, and he slowly applied pressure between his thumb and finger until - much to
his surprise - the metal began to glow faintly and heated up slightly in his grip.
Catching Malcolm's surprised look, Trip grinned. "I must be doin' somethin' right," he declared,
showing the other man the near-invisible dent on the object's surface, and when Malcolm picked his up and repeated the same
process, the second object began to glow with the same dull intensity as its partner.
"And now it just remains to be seen if they actually do anything," Malcolm remarked dryly,
after the pair of them had been standing there for several minutes.
"'Xactly," Trip agreed. "I mean, they look like they're capable of doin' serious damage,
"- appearances can be deceptive." Malcolm finished off the thought for him.
"Yeah," the engineer mused, lifting his up to get a better look at the pale light. "Which
begs the question of why they're doin' this. Stands to reason there's be a reason for them doin' what they're doin'."
Malcolm's lips quirked into a half-smile. "How astute, Mister Tucker."
Trip started to move around the workstation to tell Malcolm exactly what he thought of that
when he tripped over something on the floor and stumbled forwards in an attempt to regain his balance, losing his grip on
the artefact as he did so.
After that, everything really seemed to go in very slow motion. As Trip's head closed distance
with the armoury's decking, he saw out of the corner of his eye as Malcolm reached out to grab the object out of thin air;
he did so, and right before Trip hit the floor he saw the two artefacts nestled safely in one hand, then heard a sickeningly
loud crack as they came into contact with each other. There was then a sound like something fizzling... and without warning
every light in the armoury went out.
"Uh, Malcolm," Trip asked from the floor, "was that supposed to happen?"
"Clearly not," came a sarcastic reply from somewhere to the engineer's left, and a few seconds
later Malcolm added, "It looks like something's cut all the power in the armoury. Nothing's working."
Trip slowly worked himself off the floor and tried to find his bearings in the darkness.
And failed. "Crap," he said finally.
o o o o o
"What do you mean, the weapons are offline?"
"I mean, they just went offline. Sir."
"Is there any reason why?"
"I don't think so, sir." Ensign Rose at tactical was more than a little panicked, and it
was starting to show.
"Captain," Sub-commander T'Pol interjected, "it would appear that not only the ship's weapons
are offline." Without waiting for a response she elaborated. "Internal scans are detecting nothing on F-deck."
"Nothing?" Jonathan Archer repeated incredulously. "Nothing at all?"
"No," she confirmed.
"Right," he said, walking to the turbolift. "I'm going down there. The two of you let me
know if you find out anything." This last comment was directed at Rose and T'Pol as the lift door closed behind him.
When they opened again on F-deck, Jonathan tentatively stepped out into pitch-blackness and
for a moment he struggled to regain his bearings. No, wait... the armoury's this way, a little voice in his head supplied,
and Jonathan dutifully turned to his left and began walking, brushing one arm against the wall to prevent him from either
walking into it or completely missing an intersection or corner. As he continued, he noticed a very low amount of light filtering
through the air vents somehow, creating eerily long shadows on the decking ahead of him.
After a few minutes Jonathan reached the doors that led into the armoury; closed tight. He
tried the emergency release system that lay a couple of long feet to his right, but without any supply of power to the entire
deck, it wouldn't move. A little exasperated, Jonathan tapped on the door twice. No response, although he could just about
hear voices inside - two of them, notably those of his chief engineer and armoury officer.
No doubt they were trying to get out - no doubt at all, and Jonathan pressed an ear right
up against the door to try and make out what they were saying.
The first voice clearly belonged to Trip Tucker, and if he concentrated enough, the words
were just about audible. "... an' I'm tellin' ya nothin's happenin'. You must be screwin' it the wrong way."
Jonathan blinked rapidly and a few seconds later he heard the dry English response. "I'm
trying my best... if you think you can do any better than go ahead and be my guest!"
Another pause. "I'm not tryin' to put ya down, Mal. I just... you gotta take a little direction
every now and again, 'kay?"
"Fine." The tone implied anything but. "There. That should do it. Your turn, and just remember;
slow and steady does it, Trip."
"I hear ya," was the engineer's barely audible response, and Jonathan could practically hear
him scowl it. "Quit gripin'."
All the captain could hear for the next minute or two were the sounds of... well, not very
much at all, apart from the odd interlude of padding footsteps.
"I wonder what the cap'n would say if he could see us like this, Mal," Trip said eventually,
his quiet tone still a little muffled by the armoury door.
"Or if he knew why," Malcolm remarked dryly.
"Oh yeah." There was no mistaking the grin in the engineer's voice.
Another ten or fifteen seconds, then, "Get a bit further down, Trip. You should be able to
get to it better from there."
Jonathan's eyes widened in the shadows as inside the armoury, Trip presumably complied. "Don't
think I can do this," he complained. "I can't see a thing I'm doin'."
"That's never stopped you before," Malcolm replied, concentration evident in his tone of
voice. "You're an engineer," he added, "and you've been in here often enough to know your way around. Use your hands."
Jonathan's own hand flew up to his mouth at the last exchange between the two men inside
the armoury... alone inside the armoury... and for a couple of minutes he simply stood there, unsure or perhaps unable
to move. He wasn't really sure which it was.
Then, without warning, there came from within the armoury the most horrendous sound of something
crashing over, followed by immediate curses from both Trip and Malcolm, and Jonathan hoped to himself that it wasn't either
of his officers who had gone flying.
"Now look what ya did, Loo-tenant!"
"Me? You're the one to blame, Commander, kicking all over the place like no-one's business.
There are highly sensitive pieces of equipment in this armoury... it's not a playground!"
"It's not my fault! An' as fer 'sensitive equipment', the only thing that's sensitive around
here right now is my stomach. Just get off me, okay? I'm havin' trouble breathin'!"
Jonathan winced on behalf of his friends; it did indeed sound as though both men were more
than a little winded. The conversation inside the armoury picked up again, and once again he started listening.
"I thought you said you were good at this." Malcolm sounded rather disapproving.
"Hey!" Trip protested. "I've been doin' this all my life, but there's only so much I can
do without bein' able to see!"
"What are you implyin'?"
"No, no. C'mon, what were you tryin' to say?"
Small pause. "I'm not trying to... deny that you're no good at what you do," Malcolm answered
carefully, "but perhaps you could be a little less... haphazard in your ways. Especially in this sort of situation."
"Okay," Trip admitted grudgingly, and outside Jonathan grinned. "Okay then, Mal, how about
we switch places? Speed things up a little."
Back outside the armoury, all that could be heard for about thirty seconds was a series of
cautious shuffling noises and then some slow footsteps, the captain still listening intently.
"Ooh!" It was Trip, and for some reason his voice now sounded a lot more distinct through
the door than it just had, and it was also oddly excited. "What's this?"
Malcolm replied immediately. "Whatever it is," he said sternly, his voice now a lot more
muffled, "get your hands away from it - now!"
"What, are you afraid I might blow somethin' up?" Trip asked jokingly.
"That's not even remotely funny, Mister Tucker," Malcolm replied tersely.
"I, uh, wasn't really tryin' to be."
"Good. Now get back down here, would you?" the armoury officer enquired tersely. "Then we
could get those hands of yours doing something useful instead of just messing around."
Jonathan's eyes widened again, his eyebrows shot up towards his hairline and he turned to
face the armoury door. That... that couldn't have meant what he thought it meant... could it?
Malcolm's next words now sounded just as distinct as they had done previously. "... right
then," he said simply. "If we're going to do this your way, then we may as well get it right."
"Now." Malcolm's voice was deceptively calm. "Have you found that blasted hole yet or not?"
"Give me a break, Loo-tenant," Trip complained. "This isn't as easy as it looks."
"I know that," Malcolm replied. "But as I believe I've said already, you are an engineer,
and a damn good one at that."
"Flattery will get ya nowhere, Mal," Trip deadpanned. "But I could use a little help."
"Of course." Pause. Then, more dubiously. "Are you sure this is going to work?"
"Give me a couple of minutes, then," Malcolm said.
With the ensuing silence within the armoury, Jonathan couldn't help himself; he mentally
reviewed everything that had been said between the engineer and tactical officer... and it didn't sound very promising at
all. Oh God.
"Ready when you are." Malcolm's quiet statement drew Jonathan's attention back to the other
side of the thick metal door.
"'Kay," Trip responded, deeply in concentration. "You all the way inside?"
"As far as I can reach," Malcolm answered, "but it should be enough."
"Start it now, then."
A brief pause. "Anything?" Malcolm asked.
"A little higher..." was the tense reply. "A little more... just a touch further, Mal, keep
goin'... we're nearly there... a little further..." He began to sound excited, despite the obvious tension in his voice.
Jonathan officially felt sick to the stomach now. This couldn't be happening... there was
no way that those two would ever... no. No. They wouldn't. Would they?
"Yeah!" Trip's ecstatic voice suddenly cut through the silence. "Oh yeah, that's it!"
"Glad I could be of assistance," Malcolm returned, at the precise same moment that all the
lights on the corridor of F-deck came back on without warning, temporarily blinding a dazed Jonathan. The communicator in
one of his pockets chirped quietly, but it was ignored.
Instead the captain turned back to the armoury doors, which had opened of their own accord
- probably because of his attempt with the backup system earlier, he thought vaguely as he took a very cautious look around
Two storage containers had somehow been tipped onto their sides, spilling power couplings
and various other bits and pieces onto the decking, and off to one side the two artefacts that had been brought back from
the surface had rolled together underneath one of the torpedo racks.
Malcolm was standing in the corner furthest away from the door, his arm almost completely
inside a clumsily opened wall panel. So. He was there. And Trip...?
One of the workstations next to Jonathan grunted in satisfaction, and it was only then that
he noticed a pair of blue-uniformed legs sticking out from underneath it; as he watched, they slowly emerged to reveal a smug-looking
Trip Tucker. "Told y'it would work," he said to Malcolm, working himself up into a standing position. "All ya needed ta do
was trust me. Hey Cap'n," he added, only just noticing his friend standing silently in the doorway. "We got it fixed. Me an'
Mal, we make quite a team, don't ya think?" he asked, grinning as Malcolm carefully set about disengaging his arm from the
wall. "I mean, who woulda thought that all we found were a couple of light switches? At least, that's what we agreed on, in
the end. Jon?" he asked, taking a step closer to the captain. "Jon, you okay?"
Jonathan nodded mutely, unsure or perhaps unable to do anything else.
He wasn't really sure which it was.