auswitcheroo151: AU Sato and Mayweather (Default)
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Disclaimer: Don't own 'em, don't make money off 'em.

Notes: Rewrite and repost. How did Chief Engineer Phlox end up with a Pyrithian bat in Engineering? While this story focuses on Chief Engineer Phlox, there's still plenty going on w/the other characters in the background.

We see Commander A.G. Robinson here. In this universe, A.G. is Admiral Henry Archer's right-hand man in Engineering Research and Development, and a friend of Phlox, Trip and Jon. Canon never established what "A.G." means...we'll find that out in this story. It's not "Alexander the Great". LOL

Rating: T

Pairings: TnT and R/S



One

March 2, 2151

approximately 2 weeks after "Empathic Tendencies"


"Chief! Chief! You gotta take a look at this!"

Commander Phlox hurried to Lieutenant Richard Kelby's side. Kelby's face was wreathed in smiles, a welcome change from his usual dour expression. "We've gotten the results of the tests on the new warp core injectors."

Phlox read the results and his smile grew as wide as Kelby's. "Very good, Richard! Warp 6.2!"

"I think we can manage it, if we modify the power consumption flow here, here and here." His voice rose in excitement. "We'd have to re-align some of the circuits, though—"

Lieutenant Michael Rostov looked over Phlox's shoulder and asked, "Richard, I think we've got some DY-523's in storage. If we link those with the new multi-phase capacitors and swap out some of the DY-449s, they should be able to regulate the power flow, so we don't have a burnout."

Phlox rubbed his chin with his hand as he contemplated the possibilities. "Then we'd have to worry about the charge build-up. I would think Captain Sato wouldn't want us to blow a connection when the warp drive is engaged."

"Blow a fuse, you mean?" piped up Lieutenant Anna Hess. She'd squeezed her lithe frame between Rostov and Kelby. "Divert the extra discharge here, to structural integrity—"

"We'd need a way to convert that kinetic energy into something that won't blow the hull to pieces, Anna," Kelby objected.

"Mmm...perhaps the same kind of transformers that the Vulcans use on the shield generators?" Phlox thought aloud.

"Could work," Rostov said, "but we'd have to do some major modifications on the design...you think the Vulcan Space and Ship Operations Ministry would sue us for infringement?"

"What they don't know won't hurt them," Kelby quipped.

That touched off a storm of argument in Engineering. Unknown to the younger officers, Lieutenant Commander Trip Tucker leaned just inside the main hatch and watched the by-play among the engineers with a huge noticed Tucker seemed calmer and more in control after his ordeal on Betazed. It wasn't an obvious change, but Phlox saw it. Perhaps Lieutenant T'Pol had something to do with it. Yes, he should ask her.

"Ah, Lieutenant Commander Tucker! What can I do for you?"

"I'd hate to interrupt your staff meetin', Phlox—"

"Nonsense. You're welcome to join us, if you'd like. The more minds, the merrier!"

"I'd be hornin' in on your territory, an' if there's one thing I know engineers hate, it's someone steppin' in where they aren't wanted." Trip shrugged and ignored Kelby's cold glower. Even now, nearly six months in space, Kelby still had some kind of grudge against Tucker. Phlox didn't understand it. "Sides, thought I'd stop by briefly and ask ya a favor."

"Of course." Phlox nodded at his team. "I believe you have the beginnings of an idea, Mister Rostov. I have every confidence that you all can work out the particulars. I will be right back."

"No problem, Chief. We'll probably still be here when you get back," Rostov said cheerily.

Phlox gestured Trip into his office, which was tucked into a corner of Engineering, but was also scrupulously clean. In comparison, Trip's Armory office always looked like a disaster area. Phlox waved Trip into a chair. "Is this about the power ratios to the Armory?"

"Kinda, Phlox." Trip grinned and handed him a PADD. "Look at these schematics I just got from A.G. Robinson and tell me whatcha think."

Phlox gave it a skeptical look, which dissolved as he paged through the report. "Mmmm. Quite interesting, indeed, Lieutenant Commander Tucker. This could increase the efficiency of the phase cannons by twenty percent. I don't see Arthur's fingerprints on this, though...is this through Admiral Archer?"

Trip chuckled and shook his head and replied, "Nope. A.G.—well, Arthur Gage, as you keep insistin' on calling him—and Henry got this from a different source. The design's from the top weapons developer in Her Majesty's Royal Navy, Admiral Stuart Reed."

"Reed? As in a relative of Doctor Reed?"

"The Doc's dad, in fact. Malcolm's no slouch in the weapons R&D department, either, though it's somethin' he doesn't want spread all over the ship. Told me he learned a lot at his dad's knee, but his interests took a different turn."

"Ah." Phlox filed the information away for future reference. "I will honor the doctor's desire to keep this information confidential. But all this means that you need some extra power for testing the admiral's designs."

Trip nodded. "This'll mean some readjustments and realignments of the phase cannons and that'll take us at least a week, maybe a week and a half on the outside. So we're not gonna need to fightin' over power consumption ratios for a while yet. I thought I'd at least let you know, give you a heads up on what's goin' on, instead of springin' it on you."

Phlox sighed mentally. "I appreciate the prior notice, Lieutenant Commander. Unfortunately, I cannot predict what the ship's needs will be a week, or two weeks from now—"

"I'm aware of that. Just keep it in mind, okay? I really want to improve on what Spacedock stuck us with this time and with our mission, we need all the starship defenses we can get."

The Denobulan couldn't argue with Tucker's line of reasoning, but the engineer within him was reluctant to share any extra power with the Armory. Granted, it was an illogical reaction (a "knee-jerk reaction", as Tucker would call it), but Phlox knew it stemmed from his own ambitious projects to improve his department's performance. Tucker had the same thoughts for the Armory. It was a sign of a good department head, but—

It meant that he and Tucker would have to "agree to disagree" at times.

Finally, he nodded. "I will keep it in mind. I cannot deny you the opportunity to improve Enterprise's defenses, but please remember that the warp engines and ship's systems require an enormous amount of energy, and I can give you what I can spare, but no more than that."

Trip didn't seem happy with that, but he said, "Couldn't ask for more than you can give, Phlox. Thanks."

"My pleasure, Lieutenant Commander. Oh—" Phlox raised a hand as if he just thought of something. "I read the reports of the Columbia's experience on the with the Varra. Interesting reading; it got me thinking."

"Oh?" Trip said, raising his eyebrow a la T'Pol. Hayes's crew had encountered an unmanned ship of unfamiliar design, and when Hayes and Major Nate Kemper had beamed aboard, it had immediately fled at high warp. Luckily, Commander Daniels managed to retrieve them before the ship self-destructed.

Phlox would have loved to have studied all its schematics, but unfortunately, he had to take what fate had given him. That included its defense mechanisms, which was Trip's department."Captain Hayes's physiological reaction on Varra when it was activated makes me believe that their defense systems may have some sort of electromagnetic basis."

"He said he felt rather queasy on Varra's bridge when they boarded it. They didn't find any people, but when the defense mechanisms kicked in—"

"The device affected Captain Hayes and his Away Team's autonomic nervous systems, which could explain some of the practical problems that continued exposure could have a detrimental effect on the human—or Vulcan—physiology."

Trip nodded. "Have you told Doc Reed about this?"

"Indeed I have. He is working on the theory. If we could negate these effects while the new Vulcan defense systems are in effect---

"It could have tactical implications." A slow smile passed over Trip's face. "Good idea, Phlox. Hey, y'know, you almost sounded like a doctor yourself there for a moment."

Phlox chuckled. "I did, didn't I? Well, I'm content to let Doctor Reed attend to medical matters."

"'Kay. I'll let you get back to your meetin' before Rostov, Hess and Kelby takes half of Engineerin' apart." Trip grinned at the scenario, even as Phlox sighed again. "Appreciate you takin' the time to hear me out."

"You're welcome." After Trip left, Phlox sighed and rubbed his cranial ridge. Ah, the trials of a starship engineer. They should rename our position as 'miracle worker'.

*****

Phlox always looked forward to Wednesdays at 1530 hours. No matter how hectic his life, the Denobulan treasured his conversations with old friends. Now Phlox grinned at the man on his communications screen.

"How is construction on the new Warp 7 ships getting along, Arthur?"

Commander A.G. Robinson winced; Phlox was the only one who actually called him by his given name, Arthur Gage Robinson. After endless ribbing by colleagues, Phlox understood why he preferred to be called "A.G." Yet Denobulan custom discouraged nicknames, save for family, and Phlox followed it to the letter. Robinson seemed resigned to it.

"Construction's going faster than when we were building either Enterprise or Columbia. Seems that Starfleet Command's eager to get as many of 'em in service as soon as possible. On the one hand, Henry's thrilled at the positive response. On the other hand, it's kinda worrying."

Phlox nodded soberly. "When will Intrepid and Atlantis be in service?"

"Soon, maybe six months at the outside, and Challenger's on the drawing board. " A.G.'s tone was casual, but Phlox couldn't shake a sense of foreboding at his friend's words.

"Very well, Arthur."

Robinson gave him a charming smile. "I want to hear every detail of your future warp injector trials, okay? 'Sides, you oughta get my subspace package in another day or two...I want to hear your thoughts about this crazy idea I have on the containment field."

"I'll look forward to it. Thank you."

"No problem, Phlox. Take care, all right? Talk to you next week. Same bat-time, same bat-place."

"Same bat-channel," Phlox echoed. He still puzzled over the strange ending ritual that Robinson insisted on having at the conclusion of their talks. Lieutenant Commander Archer—Henry's son—had said something about an ancient entertainment program that used it to remind its viewers.

And what does this ritual have to do with bats? I should look this up in the entertainment database. He chuckled as he regarded the blank screen, then he touched the comm. "Phlox to Lieutenant Rostov."

"Rostov here."

"Lieutenant, will you watch over Engineering for a short while? I need to consult with Captain Sato."

"No problem, Chief. Everything will still be in one piece when you get back."

"And Michael—"

"Sir?"

"Inform Lieutenant Commander Tucker that I may be able to divert a little more power to the Armory for his next EM trial, if he asks nicely."

Rostov laughed and answered, "I'll tell him, Chief."

*****

Phlox caught Captain Hoshi Sato on her way to lunch at the Captain's Mess. She asked him to accompany her; Phlox chose egg drop soup and dim sum to eat, while Hoshi selected broiled chicken and vegetables. She seemed surprised at his choice, until he explained that he'd gotten quite fond of Chinese food while in San Francisco. Hoshi chose to speak in Denobulan and Phlox didn't mind; it was nice to converse in his native language. Although Jon Archer was quickly grasping the particulars, he still needed assistance with the transitive verbs.

"Faa-je sh'kyu da na'thede?" Hoshi asked him. How is your department doing?

"Dae, dae," Phlox replied. "Eba'nier se-an'ju evem Warp-Nju-je." Good, good. We believe we can do Warp 6.

"Eh? Par kweesah essah. Veh-je?" Really? I'm impressed. How (will you do it)?

Phlox switched to English, for engineering terms were difficult to translate into Denobulan. In fact, the words for radiation and intake differed by two letters and were easily mistaken. Such mistakes could be undesirable. When he mentioned the transformers on the Vulcan shield generators, Hoshi nodded.

"Talk to T'Pol. She worked on several prototype Vulcan ring ships with similar shield generators. Her insight would be valuable."

He nodded. "Yes, I was planning on asking Lieutenant T'Pol when she goes off-shift." Then he told her about his conversation with Arthur Robinson.

She was silent for several minutes, then commented, "I knew they greenlighted Intrepid and Atlantis long before our launch, but this still seems pretty quick."

"Indeed," Phlox said, after he chewed and swallowed his noodles with a thoughtful air.

She didn't say anything and Phlox suspected Hoshi knew more than she let on. "I don't know, Phlox, but as A.G. said, it won't hurt to keep our eyes and ears open."

The whistle of the intercom interrupted her and she pushed the button. "Sato."

"Sorry to interrupt your lunch, Captain," came the apologetic voice of Commander Travis Mayweather, "but we're getting a transmission from Pyrithia."

Hoshi wiped her mouth with her napkin. "I'm on my way." She turned to Phlox. "Don't rush through your lunch on my account, Phlox. Stay as long as you need."

"Thank you, Captain." He smiled at her as she left, and turned his attention back on his dim sum.

Two

Phlox was getting off-shift when Hoshi summoned him to the Situation Table at the back of the Bridge. Accompanying them were Travis, Doctor Malcolm Reed, Lieutenant Commander Jonathan Archer and Trip Tucker. Trip gave Phlox a wide smile and mouthed, "Thank you." Phlox only inclined his head in response.

Hoshi called the meeting to order. "We've received a cordial welcome from the Pyrithians. They invited us to the surface, but there are some things they want us to keep in mind while we're down there. Travis?"

The Science Officer nodded and brought up the results of his planetary scan. "The Pyrithians' planet is basically one huge wildlife preserve and they have strict rules. They don't tolerate any outside interference with their native animal life. No adopting pets, no catching fish for lunch, and no picking the wildflowers. Their ecology's pretty delicate and the slightest disruption has widespread consequences."

Hoshi nodded. "They have special areas set aside for breeding and conservation projects. Lately, their generators haven't been functioning up to their expectations. They're asking for a trained engineer's opinion, so Phlox, I'd like you to accompany the Away Team with some of your engineers."

"Of course, Captain," he replied.

"I want Jon, Malcolm and Trip along as well. Travis, Lieutenant Khartoumb's your Exobiology specialist, isn't he?"

"That's right, Sameer's one of the best," Travis answered with a smile.

"I want the two of you to arrange some scientific teams. Pyrithia has unique lifeforms that we've haven't seen before and their wildlife Rangers are willing to share information."

"Gladly, ma'am." Travis said with a grin. He looked ready to jump into the assignment with both feet first. Phlox matched the grin. He reminds me of my second youngest son...always eager to push the boundaries of scientific knowledge....

"Do you want Kov on this too?" Trip asked. "I think he would appreciate some distraction, especially after what happened on Betazed."

Hoshi nodded soberly. Kov had unexpectedly met an old friend from the Vulcan Medical Academy, who turned out to be part of a conspiracy. He had been forced to witness that friend's demise, and since then, kept mostly to himself. "Malcolm? Is he up to another Away Mission?"

"I agree with Mister Tucker. He would appreciate the distraction after what happened with Jossen. He needs to regain some self-confidence in his calling as a Healer, and his empathy would do well with the animal life, I think." Malcolm's expression was grave, but his eyes sparkled.

"All right. Phlox, Trip, Malcolm, Jon and Kov. Shuttle Bay one in ten minutes. Travis, you're in command. Dismissed."

The senior crew scattered to their assignments. Phlox sighed and headed back to Engineering. He'd much preferred the confines of his engine room to the wide open spaces of an unfamiliar planet, but perhaps some fresh air and sun would spur some new ideas from deep within his subconscious...

Besides, this seems like a peaceful contact so far. What can go wrong?

*****

The first thing that Phlox smelled was the scent of wildflowers. Its heady perfume made his head swim and his eyes water. He reached up and wiped tears with his sleeve. When he could see again, he realized the Away Team stood in a clearing that was outlined in silver light.

"Oh, my," he murmured. A full moon hovered just over the treetops, shining gently on the babbling brook at his feet. The wind blew ripples in the water and flicked drops on Phlox's skin. Green and brown hills loomed in the distance, against a backdrop of majestic purple mountains. His nose twitched. Phlox pressed the bridge of it with two fingers to ease the sudden pressure.

"Are you all right?" came a soft voice behind his shoulder.

Phlox turned his head to see Doctor Reed. How is he able to move so quietly? He is full of surprises indeed. Aloud he said, "I can't seem to keep my eyes clear and my nose suddenly feels...odd. The wildflowers seem to be adversely affecting me, Doctor."

Malcolm ran his medical scanner over Phlox, then chuckled. "It seems that you are having an allergic reaction, Phlox."

"Allergic reaction? Denobulans don't have—"

"—allergic reactions," Malcolm chorused with him. He cocked his head to the side and raised his eyebrows. "So your people claim, but apparently the local flora wishes to disprove it. Here, this should help." He pressed a hypospray against Phlox's arm and pressed the trigger. "This should last you eight hours. If you feel the symptoms returning, let me know and I'll give you a booster."

"Thank you, Doctor." Phlox smiled at him, as his eyes cleared and his nose stopped twitching. He looked around for the captain, then---

SSSSQQQQQUUUAWWWWWWWWKKKKKK!!!!!

"Get down!" Malcolm yelled. He completely disregarded Denobulan tradition by grabbing Phlox by the arm and yanking him down to the ground. A second inhuman screech echoed over their heads, the sound of a frustrated demon that had missed its prey.

"What the hell----?" Trip Tucker burst out and immediately tackled Hoshi out of the way. They rolled for cover behind some bushes, just as a large bird-like shape flew inches past their heads. Automatically, Trip's phase pistol went up, but Kov put a hand on his arm.

Phlox cautiously lifted his head and glanced around him. He saw a large avian circling above them, its magnificent wings spread across the sky. That wingspan must be at least a meter from tip to tip, Phlox thought, judging the distance with a trained eye. It beat its wings as if trying to gain altitude, but the movement was...awkward.

"It's been injured," Kov said suddenly. "A broken wing."

"A fall from that height will kill it," Phlox said grimly. "There must be some way for us to help it—" Then above them, was another cry that echoed over the clearing. The bird responded, circled once more, then angled down. It hesitated and pulled back up, like a shuttlepod aborting a landing.

"It can't land," Hoshi cried, "or it won't for some reason."

The sound of running feet caught Phlox's attention, and two women burst into the clearing. One of them wore a tunic of sturdy beige canvas, tucked into denim pants, which were tucked in turn into thick-heeled boots. Her skin was a few shades lighter than Travis Mayweather's, black hair in two thick cables over her shoulders and curled up under a wide-brimmed hat. She towered over both Trip and Jon Archer, which was a strange sight. Next to the Pyrithian was a much shorter being, about Captain Sato's height, with a fall of pure ice-white hair and shimmering blue eyes. She was also dressed in outdoor gear and her translucent skin gave her the appearance of an angel. This woman seemed to glow with an phosphorous light. Phlox thought she had some kind of otherworldly beauty; right now, that beauty was hard as diamond.

Both women glanced at the members of the Away Team, huddled under cover. The taller woman met Phlox's gaze, then he heard in his mind, Yes, you can help us.

"What—?" he sputtered aloud, but he didn't have time to finish the question, for she had already crossed the distance between them with uncanny speed and was kneeling next to him. Her wide dark eyes had a commanding expression, like a charismatic general had over his troops.

"We need your help," she said in accented Standard English. "Can you help?"

"Tell me what you need me to do," he answered firmly.

She thrust a hawker's glove into his hands. "Put this on your right arm; make sure the straps fit snugly over your wrist and hand, then follow me."

The engineer nodded and did as she asked. The glove was surprisingly comfortable; he could make repairs on the warp core wearing this. He was still affixing the last strap when he took off running after her.

"Stand right there, hold your arm out and whatever you do, don't allow the bird to touch the ground. Do you understand?"

"Clearly," Phlox replied. His skin crawled at the prospect of actually holding the bird, but he firmly shoved the feeling aside. Obviously, these women knew what they were doing. They were worried about the animal's safety and welfare, but were channeling that terror into positive action. Phlox was impressed by their relative calm.

The woman nodded at her companion and gave an order in a foreign tongue. The white-haired girl nodded back and cupped her hands around her mouth. She took a deep breath and let out a cry that mimicked the bird's call. Again, the bird responded and spiraled downwards towards Phlox, talons outstretched at him. He was rooted to the spot; he couldn't move even if he wanted to. The hawk's golden-black gaze commanded his, pain and fear and horror poured into his mind, and his voice was stuck in his throat as the bird closed the gap between them, as precise as a torpedo...

You...like-mind...no more afraid...

And the bird landed on his arm, the impact causing him to stumble backwards. He remembered the woman's warning: Don't allow the bird to touch the ground. The hawk flapped its wings, trying to regain its balance, but only succeeded in tipping Phlox off his feet. Then he felt hands steadying him from behind and preventing him from falling flat on his back. The hawk croaked a miserable note and shuddered, hiding its head under its uninjured wing. The other one was bent at a strange angle. Phlox winced in sympathy.

"Thank you," said the white-haired woman as her friend slipped a hood over the hawk's head. It hissed as she tried to transfer it from Phlox's arm to the glove on her own arm. Her confused expression seemed more than just a little troubled. "It won't leave him Thala," she said to the dark-skinned woman.

"Imprint, Mylene?" Thala asked, her voice incredulous.

"It can't be; it's too old to imprint."

"We'll puzzle it out later. Right now, we have to get it to the Shelter." Thala suddenly remembered that they had an audience. She looked at Phlox. "Captain Sato?"

Phlox shook his head. "I am Commander Phlox. Captain Sato is the woman right behind you."

Thala half-turned to see Hoshi. "Forgive me, but your commander must accompany us to the Shelter. It seems the Moon Hawk refuses to leave him." At Hoshi's nod, she turned back to Phlox. "Are you a doctor or a veterinarian of some sort?"

"Ah, no. I am an engineer." Phlox found the question rather odd and glanced over at Malcolm, but the Englishman's mystified expression mirrored his own. Kov also looked confused at the apparent non sequitur.

Now Thala looked really concerned. She opened her mouth to say something, thought better of it, then closed her mouth. "Follow us, Commander Phlox, and you might want your doctors at your side."

Malcolm nodded and moved to Phlox's side as Kov took up the other. As they all followed Thala and Mylene into the trees, Phlox caught Hoshi's look of reassurance, but there was worry deep within her eyes. She knew about as much as Phlox of what was happening, but whatever it was affected her deeply.

I was overly hasty when I wondered what could go wrong on this Away Mission, he thought. The irony nearly made him smile.

*****

Phlox sat on an examination table with the Moon Hawk still attached to the hawking glove on his wrist. Jon Archer stood next to him and made reassuring noises to it. Strangely enough, Jon was the only other person whom the hawk accepted. It shrieked at Hoshi, Kov, Malcolm and Trip and they all kept their distance.

"Have you had any pets, Commander Phlox?"

Phlox half-shrugged at Mylene's question as he replied, "I had a colony of Aegillian bloodworms in a terrarium once as a child and my second father's third wife kept a Thrillian hedgehog as a pet. That's the sum of it. Lieutenant Commander Archer has a pet on board our ship, a dog named Porthos."

"Dog?" Mylene sounded confused.

"A small quadruped," Thala explained. She smiled over at Jon. "One of our interns brought his Doberman from Earth. Is your dog as big?"

"No, Porthos is a beagle. He's a lot smaller than a Doberman," Jon replied with a chuckle, "but sometimes he acts like one."

"If you possess an animal, and interact with it on a daily basis, then that might explain why our animals seem to accept you, Lieutenant Commander," Thala said, "but Commander Phlox...I am at a loss at why the Moon Hawk refuses to leave you."

Phlox smiled. "I'm just gratified that you were able to fix its wing. It was in considerable pain."

Mylene nodded grimly as she put away the bone regenerator. "The nature of the injury is rather suspicious, Commander. I don't believe the Moon Hawk broke its wing in combat with one of its own kind."

Kov frowned at her words and asked, "Do you believe someone deliberately harmed it? Who would do such a thing?"

Mylene speared him with her unblinking blue eyes as she replied, "It seems that it had caught its wing in some sort of trap."

Hoshi scowled at the thought of someone harming one of the Pyrithian animals. "I thought interfering with the native wildlife is expressively forbidden."

"It is, which is why this is so disturbing." Thala stepped to Phlox's side and scratched the Moon Hawk under the chin. The bird seemed to recognize her touch and finally hopped onto Thala's gloved wrist and left Phlox's. "We have had poachers land in the area and attempt to steal our animals. Needless to say, we do not show much mercy when we catch them in the act."

Thala's tone of voice made Phlox shiver. As he looked into her dark eyes, he wholly believed her. "So one of these poachers has harmed the Moon Hawk."

"It appears that way." Thala examined a data cylinder attached to one of the Moon Hawk's leg. "This is a tracking device. We can trace where the Moon Hawk has been and investigate those places for evidence of poachers."

Mylene nodded at Hoshi. "Can you help us, Captain Sato?"

Hoshi glanced at Trip, who nodded. "We can run some planetary scans and detect any other ships from orbit. If they are there, we'll find them. Lieutenant Commander Trip Tucker is my Armory and security officer; he can lend you any assistance you need."

Mylene flashed Trip a smile and said, "Thank you, Lieutenant Commander. We appreciate the help."

"No problem. I owned dogs when I was a kid, so I'm as eager to find these guys as you are," Trip answered. Suddenly, his communicator went off. The Moon Hawk croaked a reply and flapped its wings, but Thala calmed it. "Sorry. I'll take it outside."

As Trip left the room, the lights dimmed and brightened again. Phlox gazed at the lights on the ceiling. "Your power problems?"

Thala nodded. "Yes, our generators have been malfunctioning. We were hoping that you and your engineers could look at them and find out what is happening."

"Certainly. My engineers and I can start right away." Phlox glanced at Hoshi, who nodded assent.

"Excellent. Mylene, can you show Commander Phlox our generator complex? If we can solve the power problems, we could activate our security defenses." Thala winced and added to Hoshi, "I really don't like doing that because it can limit the range of how far our animals can roam, but betters safe than sorry."

"I agree," Hoshi said softly. "We'll help you find out what's happening. Phlox, go ahead. We'll keep in touch."

Phlox hopped off the exam table and replied, "Yes, Captain." He followed Mylene out of the Shelter and into the main complex of the rehabilitation center. The whole compound was built around a garden pool, surrounded by smooth marble tile. Even from here, Phlox could see the schools of fish swimming placidly in the water, their eerie glow illuminated by the light of the moon. Sound of other animals rustling in their sleeping pens carried the soft breeze.

"So peaceful," he commented.

Mylene nodded and said, "Yes, I find the Complex to be quite relaxing. My father is a fisherman on the eastern coast; I grew up among the aquatic life. When this Complex was being built, I wished to help preserve our native life, so I applied here. Thala is a good woman, very dedicated to her cause."

"I can see that." Phlox flashed her a grin. "You've been doing this your whole life, then."

"Yes. This respect for our planet has been ingrained in every Pyrithian native." Her slight smile faded. "Though, there are others who do not have the same respect."

"Captain Sato will assist you in finding the poachers. She has a soft heart for wildlife as well."

Mylene sighed and gestured to another building, made of native stone like the others in the Complex. "Here is our generator building. It provides power to the Complex and two other centers."

Phlox stepped into the room and immediately was taken aback at the sheer size of the generators. The six cylinders took up most of the room, all humming with contained power. He didn't recognize the design, but it definitely wasn't anything he'd seen on any Starfleet installation, or Vulcan or Denobulan. He took out his scanner and carefully walked around each generator.

"There is a definite drop in output in generators two, three and six," he commented, "but it appears the generators themselves are not malfunctioning, but the problem lies within the conduits branching out to the Complex. It will take some time to locate and repair, but we do have a place to start. With your permission?"

Mylene breathed a sigh of relief. "Of course, send for all the help and equipment you need, Commander. If I could be any assistance, please let me know."

He sketched her an elaborate bow. "Thank you, madam." He flipped open his communicator and asked to be connected to Engineering.

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