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FIC: Fortunate Voyager 2/4 (PG-13, Enterprise crossover)

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  • Mara Greengrass
    TITLE: Fortunate Voyager AUTHOR: Mara Greengrass Other headings and disclaimers in part 1 * * * * * Jon slammed through the door to sickbay, but skidded to a
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 2, 2004
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      TITLE: Fortunate Voyager
      AUTHOR: Mara Greengrass

      Other headings and disclaimers in part 1

      * * * * *

      Jon slammed through the door to sickbay, but skidded to a halt when he
      nearly ran down an orderly carrying a piece of equipment. For a moment,
      sickbay looked like the middle of a full-scale war, but after a few
      moments, he realized it was only Phlox, several assistants, and what
      seemed like half of security.

      Summers lay on the biobed outside the main scanner and Phlox frowned at
      the readings above the bed as if they'd personally insulted his
      professional expertise.

      "This man is unconscious," Phlox shouted as a guard bumped into him. "I
      hardly believe he is in any condition to attack me."

      "Lieutenant Reed said--"

      "You are *in my way*," Phlox said. "I cannot properly treat my patient
      with all of you hovering."

      Jon decided it was time to intervene. "It's okay. Do as the doctor says."

      "Yes, sir." The security guards all stepped out of the way, allowing
      various orderlies to swoop in.

      Phlox didn't even acknowledge the captain, muttering furiously to Liz
      Cutler, who ran to the nearest console and started tapping away. Jon
      wanted to ask questions, but contented himself with studying the man on
      the biobed from the safe vantage point of the doorway.

      Honestly, Summers looked terrible. He was so still, Jon might have
      thought he was dead if Phlox wasn't still working, and his face was pale
      and drawn. In fact, he looked underfed in general. Jon frowned. Why did
      he still have those red sunglasses on?

      Phlox whirled around. "I need to talk to one of the other visitors. Find
      out if one of them knows anything about this man's medical history."

      Everyone looked at Jon, who paused for a moment, indecisive. Then he
      nodded at the nearest guard, Crewman Soong. "Do it. Bring someone here.
      Fast."

      She nodded and dashed out the door. It seemed an interminable wait, with
      Phlox running tests and looking anxious, but finally the glass door
      opened and Soong entered with the young woman.

      Jon's heart went out to her, with her wide eyes and hands clenched by
      her side. When she saw Summers lying on the biobed, she gasped and put a
      hand to her mouth, and the crowd seemed to make her even more nervous.

      "Thank you for coming," Jon said quietly, trying not to spook her. "My
      doctor needs your help to help your friend."

      "He's my teacher," she said firmly, looking up at him through a curtain
      of long brown hair.

      "Okay, your teacher. What's your name?"

      "Katherine Pryde. But everybody calls me Kitty."

      "Nice to meet you, Kitty." Now that she seemed less likely to have
      hysterics, he glanced at the doctor, who looked ready to explode. "Now
      let's see if you can tell Dr. Phlox what he needs to know."

      "I'll try," she said. "I help Dr. McCoy sometimes."

      As soon as she was in range, Phlox started firing questions at her.
      Fortunately, she seemed to understand what he was asking, which was
      good, because Jon was lost after she said something about "brain
      damage." Within moments, the two were huddled over a console and she was
      pointing to things and talking about "X factors" and "UV conversions".
      Jon resumed staring at the stranger, hoping he wasn't going to die.

      "That's it!" Phlox said. "We need a broad-spectrum UV emitter *now*."

      "A...right." Jon turned and punched the comm button. "Archer to
      Engineering."

      "Go ahead, sir."

      * * * * *

      The bright light got Scott's attention first. No, he thought, I refuse
      to believe in that bright light you're supposed to see when you're
      dying. Anything but that.

      "Mr. Summers?" a voice called. "Please open your eyes."

      Open my eyes? he wondered. What if I don't *want* to see the tunnel?

      "Maybe if you stopped shining the light in his face," another voice
      responded.

      Kitty? Maybe he wasn't dead after all.

      The light dimmed and Scott experimented with his eyelids, finding--to
      his great surprise--that they opened. He blinked a few times, pleased
      with this sign of progress.

      "He's moving!" Kitty said.

      "Mr. Summers," the same unidentified voice said again, "how are you?"

      "Like death warmed over," he croaked, squinting. Ah, it was the captain
      talking to him.

      "I am not surprised," the doctor said from behind him. Scott craned his
      neck around and the doctor obligingly moved where he could be seen. "You
      were in rather grave danger, until Ms. Pryde and I were able to
      determine the difficulty."

      "You ran out of gas," Kitty said.

      "Ah."

      Scott nodded sagely until Kitty recognized his sarcasm. "Dr. McCoy
      explained to me once that you convert sunlight into energy and if you
      went without sunlight, it might make you sick."

      "Very sick, actually," Scott said. "Hank and I tested it once and it
      wasn't pleasant. I'm surprised I didn't recognize the feeling."

      "Well, you were probably busy," Archer said, with an engaging half grin
      which Scott couldn't help but return.

      "I suppose so. But in our test, it took me almost a week to get sick.
      What would be different here?"

      Phlox made an odd sound. "I suspect you used the energy you had stored
      when you removed yourself and your companions to this ship."

      "How the...how did I do that?" Scott stared at the doctor, the bottom
      dropping out of his stomach. Bad enough he had the capacity to
      accidentally blow a hole through a mountain, but now he needed to worry
      about hopping through the multiverse if he wasn't paying attention?

      "We are not entirely certain. Sub-commander T'Pol and Commander Tucker
      were arguing about that when I last saw them."

      "Great." A deep breath. "Is there any chance of my accidentally moving
      anyone right now?"

      "We do not think so. It seems to have used up a great deal of your
      resources, which are not yet recharged. And from what Ms. Pryde
      describes, you were under attack at the time. Perhaps that condition
      might be required."

      "Right." Scott resisted the urge to groan, put the whole question aside
      to be dealt with later, and turned to Kitty. "Are Logan and Bobby okay?"

      She smiled. "Other than worrying about you, I think so. I went down a
      few minutes ago to let them know you were okay. Logan growled."

      "We'll leave you to recover," the captain said, "although I'm afraid the
      guards will have to remain over there."

      Scott nodded. "I understand. And thank you for saving my life."

      When the captain and doctor had moved away, Kitty looked worried. "I'm
      sorry. I had to tell him about your powers and some of the stuff about
      mutants. He needed to know."

      "Don't be too sorry. You *did* save my life, after all."

      She shuffled her feet. "Well, Ms. Grey wouldn't..." She gasped and
      looked away. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean--"

      "It's okay," he said, throat tight. "You can mention Jean."

      Kitty's eyes filled with tears and Scott struggled to sit up. "I'm okay.
      Really." He put his arms around her and she began to cry, huge tears
      rolling down her cheeks.

      Scott fought back his own tears, hating his weakness, the desire to go
      fetal and let the universe sort itself out. But duty called as it always
      did. And he would be strong for Bobby and Kitty, because now they'd seen
      him break down twice. Today and the day that Jean had died. That was two
      too many times.

      * * * * *

      Jon nodded to Phlox. "In your office?"

      "Certainly, Captain."

      Within moments, they were seated with the door closed. "I take it you
      haven't had a chance to complete your study."

      "Complete it, no. But I believe the data from Mr. Summers and Ms. Pryde
      should be sufficient for a preliminary report. I can assure you our
      visitors are human...with some variations."

      "Variations? Are they genetically engineered? Are they Khan's superhumans?"

      "I do not see any evidence of deliberate genetic manipulation, Captain.
      As strange as they seem, these changes appear to have occurred naturally."

      Jon leaned back in his chair. "Tell me about the changes."

      "Apparently, Mr. Summers' body converts several parts of the ultraviolet
      spectrum, those found in light from Earth's sun, into a physical beam
      that shoots out of his eyes. Thus, the sunglasses, which restrain the
      beams."

      "You're kidding."

      "No, I most certainly am not." Phlox pursed his lips. "The changes to
      the human genome are fascinating, and nothing like this has ever been
      reported. Not in our timeline, at least."

      Jon swore quietly to himself and took a deep breath. "Malcolm's not
      going to believe it. Let's go talk to them."

      * * * * *

      Jon leaned in the doorway, instincts at war, and watched Summers comfort
      Kitty. Enterprise was all alone in the Expanse, surrounded by deadly
      enemies, and practicality told him not to trust strange people who
      appeared out of nowhere and could potentially shoot *energy* out of
      their eyes. But Jon's heart went out to the young man who'd nearly died
      a short while ago and now was trying to calm a frightened young woman.

      When Phlox stepped up behind him, Jon took a few steps closer and saw
      Summers stiffen and then relax. "Captain. Doctor."

      Kitty swallowed her tears and stepped away. "Hi."

      "Sorry to interrupt, but I think we need to talk. Perhaps Kitty would
      like to be introduced to some of Dr. Phlox's menagerie."

      Summers nodded once and Phlox smiled at Kitty, leading her away as he
      chattered about Pyrithian bats and Andorian snails. Tilting his head to
      one side, Summers waited for him to speak.

      It was disconcerting, Jon thought, trying to judge a man wearing red
      sunglasses. They seemed to cover more than just his eyes. Not to mention
      that the man did a better blank face than Malcolm. He might as well be
      made of stone, with those sharp edges.

      "I don't know what to do with you," Jon said. "You're a living,
      dangerous weapon and your friend has *claws*. Phlox says your mutation
      seems to be natural."

      "Logan's claws are...complicated, but if I'd done this to my eyes on
      purpose, I'd be able to control it," Summers said, sounding tired. "I
      would be able to take off my glasses."

      "Hmm." Jon sighed, considering his (limited) options.

      "I think it might be time for full disclosure about what we can do.
      It'll either help you trust us or..."

      "Or?"

      "You'll try to kill us."

      Jon shook his head, not sure what he was disagreeing with.

      Summers looked around to find Kitty. "Kitty, could you come here?" She
      started to walk around a biobed. "The short way, please."

      Without slowing, she walked *through* the bed.

      Jon felt his jaw drop and Phlox's eyes gleamed as he grabbed a medical
      tricorder. Kitty looked puzzled. "But I thought--"

      "I changed my mind. Thank you for the demonstration."

      "Sure. Do you need me to phase through anything else?"

      Summers waved at Phlox. "I think he'd like a few demonstrations. It's
      okay, go on."

      Light-headed, Jon watched Kitty put her hand through various solid
      objects. "I've got to be careful," she said. "I short out electronics if
      I phase through them."

      "Fascinating!"

      Summers was solemn when Jon turned back, waiting for a reaction.

      "What else can you people do?"

      "The military coated Logan's bones with the hardest metal known,
      adamantium, and he naturally has enhanced senses as well as the ability
      to heal from injuries incredibly fast. The claws can cut through nearly
      anything. They're also a present from the military."

      The last sentence contained more venom and bitterness than Jon had heard
      from Summers since his precipitous arrival. He wondered what it was for.
      "What about the young man?"

      "Bobby draws heat out of the air, although we haven't figured out how.
      But it lets him create, shape, and control ice. He can chill things to
      an incredibly low temperature."

      "Wow."

      "If we'd wanted to fight you...we'd have done a great deal of damage. We
      might even have won."

      "I can see that." Jon's mind reeled. "But you didn't."

      "No."

      "I'm not sure you've made this any easier. I can't really put you back
      in the brig when she can walk right out of it." Jon started to pace
      across sickbay, hoping movement would jog his brain. Passing the comm
      panel, he tapped it. "Archer to T'Pol."

      "Go ahead, Captain."

      "I need you and Trip in sickbay. And get Malcolm. Oh, have him get
      someone to bring the other two up from the brig."

      "Understood."

      Summers was as still as a statue, jaw tense, waiting.

      Jon glared at him, angered at the resignation, the implication that
      Summers knew how he would react. "Damn it, I'm not going to kill you!"

      Kitty and Phlox looked up.

      "It's okay, Kitty," Summers said, not turning his head, watching Jon.

      The tension built until it was nearly a palpable presence. What were
      these people capable of, why were they here, were they telling the truth?

      A whoosh and the door to sickbay opened and Jon finally turned to look.
      Malcolm had a hand on his phase pistol as he entered, scanning the room
      for danger. His eyes widened and his fingers closed on the weapon, so
      Jon turned to see what he was looking at.

      Kitty stood with her hand inside a biobed, watching the new arrivals.

      "Cap'n, what the--" Trip and T'Pol stood just inside sickbay, the door
      closing behind them.

      "New developments, Trip."

      Kitty looked down at her hand, pulled it out of the table and sidled
      over next to Scott.

      "Yeah, I can see that."

      "Have you made any progress?"

      "Well, we've matched up some of the particles with the ones off that
      derelict and the cyborg ship on Earth. So, that's good evidence for time
      travel." Trip grinned at T'Pol, who ignored him.

      "What particles?" Summers asked.

      "The ones you were leaking like a bucket full of holes. A couple of
      bridge sensors nearly blew out when you arrived, but it's pretty certain
      you were the source."

      "I believe this eliminates an outside actor such as a transporter,"
      T'Pol said.

      The door opened and Trip and T'Pol stepped out of the way to allow Logan
      and Bobby to enter, followed by two of the MACOs. Logan's eyes flicked
      briefly to Scott and Kitty, then swept the room. Jon wondered what
      branch of the military he'd been in, because only someone who'd seen
      some kind of combat reacted like that.

      Bobby looked at everyone and went to stand next to Kitty, who smiled
      reassuringly at him. Jon was struck by the resilience of youth, moving
      from tears to helping a classmate in a few minutes. Logan prowled over
      to stand off to one side, eyeing Malcolm and his phase pistol.

      "Well," Jon said, clearing his throat, "I thought it was time to lay
      everything on the table. Phlox says our visitors don't seem to have
      deliberate genetic manipulations. They've shown me they had the capacity
      to do a great deal of damage--not to mention leave the brig--none of
      which they chose to do."

      "If we wanted you dead, you would be," Logan said, voice very cold and
      brittle. Jon shivered, aware in a way he hadn't been before, that *this*
      man was a killer.

      "Logan." The one word from Summers seemed to be enough, although they
      took a moment to glare at each other. But Logan subsided, not
      responding--except to roll his head until his neck cracked.

      That moment should have frightened Jon, should have made him say,
      'Sedate them and put them back in the brig.' But it didn't. It was
      something about the way Bobby was trying to look brave and Kitty had her
      hands clenched by her side. And something about the way a killer with
      claws took orders from a young man with dark sunglasses. That young
      man--his instincts said--could be trusted.

      "Until we figure out how to return you to your proper time and place,
      I'm releasing you from the brig."

      "Captain!" Malcolm's voice was anguished.

      T'Pol didn't move except for a slight quirk of the lips. "Are you
      certain that is wise?"

      "Not at all. But I'm taking a chance." Malcolm opened his mouth, but Jon
      shook his head and the armory officer subsided. "Yes, they'll be
      restricted to nonessential portions of the ship."

      "Thank you, sir." The tone was truculent, but Jon chose to ignore that.

      "Thank you, Captain," Summers said. It was still impossible to tell what
      he was thinking, Jon thought with no little annoyance.

      "Let's just hope we can find a way to get you home or I'm going to have
      to explain your continued presence to Starfleet. And I'd rather not do
      that."

      Phlox broke in. "Now that we have these preliminaries complete, I
      believe my patient needs to eat."

      Jon nodded. "Mr. Summers, if you'd care to join me for dinner in my
      private mess? I think we have some things to discuss."

      A calm nod. "Thank you, Captain."

      "Malcolm, please escort the other three to the mess hall so they can get
      something to eat as well." The armory officer, still scowling, led them
      out. "T'Pol? Trip?"

      "I would like to resume my investigations, Captain."

      "Have fun, T'Pol, I need something to eat. I'll join ya, Captain."

      * * * * *

      The atmosphere in the captain's private dining hall was much more
      relaxed once food had been consumed. Summers had spent every spare
      moment staring out at the stars, which made Jon like him even more. They
      made it through the salad and chicken and apple pie on innocuous
      conversation.

      "So, tell me about mutants," Jon said, leaning back in his seat, sipping
      coffee.

      Summers looked up from his cup. "As near as we can tell, mutants with
      fantastic powers began to appear in limited numbers in the 1950s,
      perhaps caused by experiments with radioactivity. By the end of the
      century, our numbers were great enough to make people nervous." It
      sounded like a speech he'd made many times, perhaps a museum tour.

      "Some, like my mentor Charles Xavier, believe humans and mutants should
      be able to live together. Others, like Magneto, see war between humans
      and mutants as inevitable. He intends to be on the winning side, no
      matter what."

      Jon sighed. "Sounds familiar. What about this Senator Kelly you
      mentioned when you arrived?"

      Summers twirled his coffee cup, his jaw twitching once before he
      answered. "He sponsored the Mutant Registration Act. All mutants would
      have been required to register with the government. It was a 'license to
      lynch mutants' law."

      "Damn," Trip said.

      "It's been difficult riding in the center of the road, trying to keep
      mutants under control as well as the humans trying to kill us. There
      have been...losses, mistakes."

      He stopped abruptly, jaw clenched and hand nearly white on the cup. The
      pain was so obvious, Jon almost called Phlox before he realized his pain
      was mental, not physical. He and Trip looked away and waited for him to
      regain control.

      "That's our history in a nutshell," Summers said eventually. "Now, who
      is Khan?"

      "Well, around the same time your mutants were appearing spontaneously,"
      Jon said, "people on Earth, our Earth, were trying to create
      supermen--stronger, faster, smarter. Then the supermen grew up. It
      started as isolated terrorist activities, but it was really Khan gaining
      power.

      "Near the end of the century, he and his supermen came out of the closet
      and began their work in earnest--threats, near-destruction of the Earth,
      it was a terrible time. It left us with strict laws against genetic
      manipulation."

      Summers shook his head slowly. "Khan probably spouted a lot of garbage
      about how his people were the next step in evolution and survival of the
      fittest, right?"

      Trip snorted. "That's about right."

      "Sounds like Khan and Magneto would have loved each other."

      "Please, don't even think about that," Jon said, trying to lighten the
      mood. "For all we know, you can wish them into the same universe."

      "You never know." Summers stared out at the stars, looking
      uncomfortable. "Did Khan suffer any particular persecution?"

      "Not that I know of, why?"

      "Magneto...Erik was a Jewish survivor of World War II, of the Holocaust.
      He saw his parents dragged away to be killed."

      "Oh."

      "Mm-hmm. He sees the treatment of mutants and the calls for registration
      as signs that mutants are going to be rounded up in concentration camps
      to be murdered."

      Jon studied Summers, intrigued. "You're afraid he's right."

      "Yes." It was little more than a whisper.

      Jon and Trip waited.

      Rubbing his temple under the glasses, Summers went on. "A few months
      ago, the school, our school for mutant children, was attacked by the US
      military and some of the students were kidnapped. Experimented on. I was
      drugged, brainwashed. I nearly killed...people, before I was stopped."

      There was something else, Jon could tell, and it made his stomach roll
      think there might be something worse than what Summers had already
      described.

      Summers took a few moments to calm down, but eventually he looked up.
      "But we've moved on, tried to resume our mission of teaching the kids
      how to control their powers, and monitoring the mutants with less noble
      goals. It's been difficult." He stopped again.

      "What about this Professor Xavier?" Jon asked. "Who is he?"

      Summers brightened, an amused smile on his lips. "My mentor and my
      teacher. He comes from old family money, which let him set up the school."

      "Does he have powers too?" Trip asked.

      "He's a telepath." Summers sighed. "Extremely powerful."

      Trip sat up straight. "A telepath? He reads minds?"

      "Yes."

      Trip managed to draw back without moving--it was something in the look
      on his face. "That's...how do you..."

      Summers turned toward Trip, obviously wanting him to understand. "The
      Professor does not read minds uninvited. That's part of why he started
      the school, so we could develop the ethical aspect of our mutations."

      Trip's face twisted. "You can't do that, can you?"

      "Trip..."

      Summers stayed focused on Trip. "No, I can't. I've told you everything
      we can do."

      Jon sighed. "Trip, cool it." Not for the first time, Jon wished Trip
      wasn't so excitable. "Telepaths aren't completely unknown here, either."

      "Yeah, but I don't want to be near any of them!"

      Jon wanted to slam his hands on the table and shout 'You mean, like
      T'Pol?' but now wasn't the time to deal with another in a long line of
      Vulcan secrets. "We have enough problems, let's not ask for trouble, okay?"

      "Yes, Cap'n." Trip crossed his arms, looking sulky.

      Why the hell had becoming a starship captain seemed like a good idea?
      Jon wanted desperately to roll his eyes, but settled for turning to
      Summers. "So, he started a school."

      "Yes, I was one of his first students." For a moment, a nostalgic smile
      passed over the man's face, but it went dark. Again, Jon had the feeling
      something terrible had happened that Summers wasn't ready to share, and
      Summers shook his head. "We were in the middle of recruiting a new
      student when we ended up here. We were attacked by members of the mutant
      opposition and I suppose that must have somehow triggered this new
      ability of mine. I can only hope the prospective student we left behind
      was unharmed."

      "What was his mutation?"

      "Hers, actually. She projected illusions. I don't know what Magneto
      wants with her."

      "What kinds of things do you teach at your school?" Jon asked.

      "The normal things, math, science, literature. We also help the students
      learn about their abilities, how to control them, how to use them."
      Summers hesitated. "We train a select few in more...martial arts.

      "It's not what we would choose, but the Professor and I agree it will
      become more necessary to have mutants who are willing and able to
      protect humanity from mutant threats. We call ourselves," a slight
      smile, "the X-Men."

      "For Professor Xavier."

      "Yes. So far most of the students have not been allowed to join the
      team, but Bobby and his girlfriend Rogue are two who have. They proved
      themselves level-headed in the time after the school was attacked."

      "Kitty?"

      "She's in training, but not yet on the team. The only reason she was on
      this mission was that it was supposed to be easy."

      Jon laughed, but not out of amusement. "I know about those missions."

      "I'm sure you do." Summers crossed his arms, leaning back in his chair.
      "I hate putting the kids in harm's way, but there are so few of us and
      so many who hate mutants. The attacks are getting worse all the time,
      the legal challenges stronger, our defenders fewer."

      "So, why haven't you joined this Magneto, then?" Trip sounded
      belligerent and Jon shot him a warning look.

      Face set and grim, Summers turned the red glasses on him. "Because the
      proper response to violence is not more violence."

      Trip sneered at him. "Well, tell that to the Xindi."

      Summers frowned. "Who are the Xindi?"

      Jon shook his head. "They're the reason this ship is so far from Earth,
      but we don't know much about them. We know there are five distinct
      species of Xindi and they live in this area of space, which is called
      the Expanse. Less than a year ago, they sent a probe to Earth." He
      couldn't go on and took refuge in a sip of his coffee.

      Summers looked at Trip, whose pleasant expression had gone cold and
      hard. It wasn't a good look on him, Jon thought.

      "The probe..." Summers prompted.

      "Killed millions of people," Jon said bluntly. "It wiped out a swathe of
      Earth."

      "God," Summers said. "Why?"

      Jon shook his head slowly. "It's complicated. From what we can tell,
      they believe humans are going to destroy their homeworld."

      "But if you've never met these Xindi--"

      "It's all got to do with time travel. I *hate* time travel," Jon said.

      "Why would humans do that? Have you asked the Xindi?" Summers was still
      in shock, Jon thought, remembering how long it had taken him to grasp
      the enormity of the loss.

      "Who cares? They want to wipe us out. That's pretty clear," Trip said.

      "But why?" Summers frowned.

      Trip snorted. "Obviously, you don't care about the millions who died.
      It's not *your* Earth, is it?"

      "That's not--"

      "My sister died, damn it!" Trip pushed his chair back, exploding out of
      it, away from the table. Jon stared, surprised to see Trip talking about
      it. "Those bastards vaporized my baby sister and you want me to talk?
      You don't have the faintest idea--"

      "My fiancée is dead." Summers swallowed hard.

      Trip spun around to stare at him, jaw dropping. "What?"

      "Jean. My fiancée. She," he swallowed again, "died. In the escape after
      the school was attacked."

      Long silence as the two men pondered each other. Jon held his breath.

      Trip was the first to speak. "I'm sorry. For Jean. And for, well, for
      what I said. It's been tough."

      Nodding, Scott waved Trip back to his seat. "I'm sorry to hear about
      your sister."

      "How did Jean die?"

      Scott's jaw twitched and when he spoke, it was in a monotone. "A senior
      US military official created a weapon to kill all the mutants. We
      stopped him, but Magneto tried to use it to kill the humans instead. We
      managed to stop that as well, but in the escape our jet was damaged."

      Scott fell silent, obviously lost in the memory. "Jean was a telekinetic
      and a telepath. She stopped the water from a broken dam from drowning
      us, lifted the jet...and she was gone." His voice was hoarse.

      "She...whoa, that's amazing." Trip's eyes were wide. "Lizzie was sweet
      and kind."

      "I'm sure she was."

      Jon sighed. "I think we could all use a drink."

      The two other men nodded and Jon rang for the steward. "Please tell Chef
      I'd like to break out bottle number 2."

      Trip dropped back into his seat with a sigh, fiddling with his coffee
      spoon, while Summers stood and, hands in his pockets, went to stare out
      at the stars. It hurt to watch the two of them, Jon thought, wounded and
      angry. And if he was honest, they weren't the only ones. His own
      behavior since they'd entered the Expanse had been schizophrenic, to say
      the least.

      The steward brought in a bottle of Southern Comfort, which got him a
      brief smile from Trip. Jon waved the steward away and poured each of
      them a healthy shot.

      Trip leaned his arms on the table, watching the liquid in his glass;
      when Jon brought a glass over, Summers thanked him and took a sip, his
      mind obviously still far away.

      Finally turning away from the view, Summers returned to his seat. "Tell
      me more about your mission." The pain they'd seen was buttoned-down,
      hidden from view again.

      "We're here to find the Xindi, find the weapon we know they're building
      to destroy the Earth, and stop them." It sounded impossible when he put
      it that way.

      "Alone?"

      Trip snorted. "Our so-called allies, the Vulcans, told us it was our
      problem. T'Pol told 'em to go to hell, quit her job, and came along."

      "Starfleet's working on other ships," Jon said, "but it'll be months
      before they're launched. We don't know if we can wait that long."

      "Sounds tough."

      "It's been...difficult," Jon said, grimacing at the massive
      understatement. "We're working with insufficient information in
      unfamiliar and dangerous territory. I'm afraid you didn't walk into an
      easy situation."

      "We're used to that," Summers said. "I know Logan and I can handle it, I
      just wish the kids hadn't come along. I wish I knew what I did to bring
      us here."

      Trip drained his glass and held it out for another splash. "We'll figure
      it out, promise."

      "Thank you." Summers didn't sound all that pleased about depending on
      someone else.

      "So," Trip said, "people don't like mutants much."

      Summers snorted. "Considering how you reacted to my mention of
      telepathy, are you really surprised?"

      Trip had the good grace to look abashed at the reminder. "Yeah, you're
      right."

      "Humans seem to have three responses to mutants: apathy, blind hatred,
      or a desire to control our powers, use them for one purpose or another."

      "That's cynical," Trip said.

      "That's my life," Summers responded, his voice sharp. "Students come to
      our school in conditions ranging from bad to worse--beaten by their
      parents because they grew wings, attacked by mobs because they can move
      things with their minds, traumatized by rejection because of
      circumstances beyond their control."

      Trip and Jon were silent as Summers stood and went to look out at the
      stars. "I'm sorry," he said finally. "These kids are my life. Especially
      since..."

      Since Jean's death. The words went unspoken but they hung in the air and
      Summers leaned his forehead against the clear surface in front of him.

      Control them, Jon thought, staring down into the dregs of his drink.
      What a seductive thought it was. These four mutants were living,
      intelligent weapons: Kitty, the perfect spy and saboteur; Logan, the
      ultimate soldier; Bobby, elemental power over water and ice; and Scott,
      a human-shaped laser.

      When he looked up, Summers was watching him. Even with the red glasses,
      Jon could feel the intensity of that regard, and he suspected Summers
      knew exactly what he was thinking. "So long as you are on this ship,"
      Jon said, choosing his words with care, "you are under my protection.
      Nobody will make you do anything you don't wish to. You have my word."

      He stared at Summers' glasses, trying to see the eyes behind them,
      trying to show he meant it. Beside him, Trip shifted, obviously uneasy.

      "Thank you, Captain," Summers said finally. "I appreciate that."

      Jon nodded. "Well, Phlox will have my head if I keep you up all ship's
      night talking. Shift's almost over, so we should get you bunked down."

      "It's always best to follow doctor's orders." Summers' smile looked
      exhausted.

      "We don't have many extra beds," Jon said, frowning at a padd on the
      table, "but we've found places for you to sleep as long as you don't
      mind being separated."

      "I'd prefer we were together, mainly for the kids, but I understand."

      "If it helps, we've set up the comm system to recognize you and you can
      contact each other anywhere on the ship. Computer access is restricted,
      but you should be able to view historical and entertainment features."

      Summers nodded. "Thank you. You're being remarkably kind to four intruders."

      Jon didn't respond immediately, thinking about how young Summers was. It
      was easy to forget since he was in charge, but he was so very very
      young. "We put you in the brig. That's kind?"

      A grin flashed across his face for an instant, lighting it. "*Everyone*
      puts us in jail. Most don't intend to let us out."

      Shaking his head, Jon waved at the door. "Let's gather the troops and
      get everyone assigned to a room."

      * * * * *

      Kitty looked thrilled when informed she'd be bunking with Hoshi Sato,
      and Scott was happy to see the ship's linguist appeared equally pleased
      with the arrangement. The two disappeared out the door, words like "ice
      cream" and "movie" wafting back before the door shut behind them.

      One of the marines (MACOs, they called them) claimed Logan, insisting
      there was a free bunk in their area, and some kind of sparring match was
      already in the works from what Scott could hear. He shook his head,
      hoping Logan wouldn't hurt anyone too badly.

      A dark-haired crewman named Rostov grinned at Bobby. "You're stuck with
      me. I'm not as good-looking as Ensign Sato, though."

      Bobby blushed. "I've got a girlfriend anyway."

      "Really? Okay, you get to tell me about her while we steal some of the
      ladies' ice cream."

      Scott was pleased--it seemed his team was settling in rather nicely. He
      turned to say as much to the captain, but caught a scowl on Lt. Reed's
      face. Reed noticed him watching and blanked the scowl to something more
      neutral. They eyed each other and Scott wondered if he was supposed to
      fight or roll over and expose his throat.

      The moment was broken when the captain grinned at both of them. "Well,
      now that we've got that settled, I've got to get down to engineering and
      take a look at those upgrades Trip wants me to see." He was gone rather
      faster than a human should be able to move.

      "But..."

      "You'll be staying with me," Reed said, the scowl back.

      "Great." Scott scowled himself, realizing the captain had abandoned them
      for a reason. The most annoying thing was that it was the kind of thing
      *he* might have done in a similar circumstance.

      "When I expressed my reservations about allowing you free rein of the
      ship, Captain Archer said that if I was so concerned, I should put you
      where I could keep an eye on you. He insisted. Ordered, in fact."

      "Your captain's sense of humor--"

      "Leaves a little to be desired. I know."

      "Well, you don't trust me and I don't like you, so I'd say we understand
      each other."

      "True."

      --continued in part 3--
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