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Author's Note: I have been thinking of this sequel since 2014 when I finished Alien Us. It took awhile for me to find the beginning. I'd write something then cross it out, write again, cross it out. I think I've got enough of a handle on the beginning now that I can post this, the first chapter.



Sequel to Alien Us

Book Cover credit goes to Smthingwicked from Wattpad.

Historian's Note:
Set somewhere immediately after the events of Alien Us.

Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters--well, except the original ones. The series isn't mine, but the setting is--well, when they're not on Enterprise. The situation, on the other hand, is all mine.

 

Prologue

 **Six months in the past**


"Why me?" the young woman asked the camera. "I'm sure many people have asked that over the centuries. But why? I'm young. I'm healthy. Or I thought I was." She looked away as she fought back tears. "I had headaches. That's all I thought they were. Lots of people got them when they worked in the wasteland the Xindi left. Only now, all construction there has stopped. Because I'm not the only one."

She rubbed her hands over her eyes. "I can't just talk to a computer, so I'm going to talk to you, Malcolm." She dried her eyes and then started again. "I was doing well, you know, in my career. I finally got to take the lead on a new housing block in the Reclamation Area. Everyone wanted to put the Xindi attack behind us, after an appropriate memorial, of course.

"It was going to be grand, but tasteful, of course. I thought the headaches and the dizziness were just from long days at the drawing table. It was only when Sarah Farmer, my boss, called me in to talk about my designs that I began to doubt. I hadn't seen them but there were egregious mistakes. Important supports were missing, no passage between floors, doors that led nowhere. It would have collapsed had we built it. She knew this wasn't like my previous work. She suggested I see a doctor."

She took a moment and sighed. "It has something to do with the Reclamation Area, the Xindi weapon. There's something still there, in the soil, or maybe in the air. Apparently it causes a new kind of brain tumor." That set her crying again. She paused the recording. After she composed herself, she started it again. "It's not cancer as we know it. It's more insidious than that. No other illnesses have been found. Just these tumors in hundreds of people who were just trying to make that area beautiful again.

They don't want us to despair, but so far, none of the usual cancer treatments are working. They're going back to basics, they said. Ten volunteers took radiation treatments. Then others took chemotherapy from the twenty-first century. In both groups, the tumors grew faster. A third of the patients died. So it's a little hard to not despair. Sarah said she'd build my building, correctly, somewhere else, make sure I got credit as the lead architect. I hope I can live long enough to see it. And to see you, brother of mine. I miss you. Maybe I'll try and give you a ring."

Chapter One

Malcolm Reed just thought he'd gotten caught up in the sight and nearness of Hoshi. He had loved her for a year without seeing her at all. She had been a voice in his head. The idea that they'd ever see each other again, ever hold hands, was beyond them then. Yet here she was, resting her head on his shoulder as they looked out at the stars streaking by. He'd never felt love on this scale before.

The streaks began to blur. Was that love? He looked at the empty dishes on the table. They were blurry, too. Maybe the light-headedness he felt wasn't love. There was a tightness building in his chest. The monitor on the back of the wheelchair began to beep, and he couldn't feel the ache in his left wrist. "Malcolm?" her voice in his mind was clear, and alarmed.

I want to live, he thought back to her. The chair moved backward but he couldn't hold himself up. He began to fall forward. Strong hands held him. He heard fuzzy sounds behind him. Then everything went black.


Hoshi watched in horror as the medic laid Malcolm on the floor and began chest compressions. Was it the waffles? Was it leaving Sickbay? Had they just killed him for a date? Her legs wouldn't hold her anymore. She crumpled to the ground beside Malcolm's legs, too afraid to get in the way of the medic. Sobs rushed out of her. She couldn't lose him now!

Doctor Phlox came and Malcolm was put on an anti-grav gurney. Then he was gone. She couldn't follow. She couldn't get her legs to lift her from the floor. She couldn't move, couldn't think beyond that one thought: She couldn't lose him now. Not now!

Then the captain was kneeling in front of her. He lifted her up and got her moving. His strong arms held her up, kept her from melting into the deck the whole way back to Sickbay. By the time they reached it, Malcolm was resting back on the bed he'd left little more than an hour before. His eyes were closed, but his chest rose and fell regularly. Trip was standing by the bed.

Phlox approached them. "He's stable for now." He looked her over. "Are you hurt, Hoshi?"

The sobs had left, but the tears had not. She shook her head. She wanted to be beside him. The captain must have understood because he led her to the chair beside Malcolm's bed. He left her there then pulled Trip away to give her space.


Trip met Phlox and the captain at the other side of the room. "What happened?"

Phlox was very direct. "He had a cardiac infarction."

A heart attack? Trip relaxed a bit. Heart attacks were treatable. Heart disease was curable now. Malcolm could get through this.

Phlox wasn't finished. "Lieutenant Reed's heart isn't going to get better. It has endured an incredible amount of stress and abuse. It just can't work as efficiently as he needs it to. I think the best course of action for him is a transplant."

That hit Trip like an anvil to the chest. Malcolm had survived. Beyond all expectations, he had survived. It seemed wrong somehow that his own body could kill him now. "What can we do? How can we help, here?" Trip asked.

"We could try to construct an artificial heart," Phlox said, "or we can send him back to Earth for a real heart, and maybe more than that."

"What do you mean?" the captain asked.

"Nerves, for one," Phlox replied. "With the right donor or donors, he might regain full motion of his hands and ankles. His bones could be strengthened. His sternum has been cut or cracked repeatedly. When he was brought in, it was cracked and compressing his chest cavity. And that still doesn't touch the sheer trauma of it all. He can't fully recover here."

Trip wanted to sit down himself. He looked over at Hoshi and Malcolm. Malcolm's arm moved. She took his hand. He was awake.

"Ah," said Phlox. "We needn't rush into anything just yet. I can keep him stable here for now." He left them and returned to his patient. Trip watched from where he was with the captain.

"Lieutenant," Phlox said to Malcolm. "I need to understand your wishes should life support become necessary."

Trip couldn't hear Malcolm's reply, but he was glad Phlox had asked. He didn't want a decision like that left up to Malcolm's parents again.

"Even if it means tubes and machines?" Phlox asked to clarify. "It's official then. If it comes to that, Lieutenant, I can induce a coma so you won't be aware."

The captain moved forward and cleared his throat. "I'm glad that's settled. Malcolm, Hoshi, I need to ask you about Moody. The MACOs would like to hold a memorial service."

"He deserves a commendation," Hoshi replied, still holding Malcolm's hand. "We wouldn't have survived the crash if he hadn't done what he did. We blew up the shuttle and his body so they wouldn't have them to study."

The captain nodded. "Could the two of you work up a brief report so I can apply for that commendation?" Malcolm and Hoshi both nodded.

But a comm signal sounded and T'Pol's voice interrupted any further discussion of the MACO. "Captain, priority communication from Starfleet Command."

The captain handed Hoshi a PADD. "On my way. I'll take it in my Ready Room."

"I think I'll meet T'Pol in the science lab," Trip said, and he joined Captain Archer as they left Sickbay.

"Can he do that with anyone else?" Archer asked him as they entered the turbolift.

"Nope." Trip shook his head.

"Has he tried?"

Trip gave a light smile and nodded. "It's easier than talking."

Archer considered that briefly. "I guess it would be."

"Can you ask T'Pol to meet me in the lab?" Trip asked him. "I wanna see if we can come up with any way to help Malcolm here on the ship."

Archer nodded. Trip got off and headed to the lab while Archer continued to the Bridge.


Archer sat down then activated the console to reveal the admiral who had called. "Captain Archer. Good to see you. I'm sending you coordinates. How fast can Enterprise reach them?"

Archer clicked over to the coordinates and let the computer give him an estimate. "Four weeks at maximum warp. What's there, Admiral?"

"An important first contact mission we hope. Potential allies if we're lucky. Powerful adversaries if we're not careful. This is a top secret mission. Keep it quiet for now but get there as soon as you can. One more thing. Seems your Tactical Officer made a stir with Starfleet R&D. They'd like him to personally come and present his work on the stable force-field he put together a few years back. We can send a ship to intercept and ferry him back to Earth."

Archer sighed. "He may need to go back to Earth but he's in no condition to present anything to R&D. He and Ensign Sato were recently in a rather unique shuttle crash. He's in critical condition. Dr. Phlox believes he needs a heart transplant."

"I'm sorry to hear that. I'll let Starfleet Medical know to expect him. What about your Chief Engineer? Does he understand the tech well enough to brief R&D in the lieutenant's stead?"

"I'm sure he does," Archer replied. He was glad Malcolm would be well taken care of.

"I hope Ensign Sato fared better. Her skills will be vital on this mission, Jon."

Archer sighed again. "In short, that shuttle crashed a year before it left this ship. It's complicated but that year was extremely traumatic for both of them. She's recovering physically but some time on Earth with her family would be invaluable for her."

"I wish we had the luxury," the Admiral replied. "And I'll personally make sure she gets that time once the mission is complete. If only all our communications officers had her genius, I wouldn't insist. I don't know of anyone else who can learn an alien language in the span of a few hours."

Archer did not relish telling Hoshi that she would be separated from Malcolm again. Malcolm wouldn't like it either.

"I'll send the intercept coordinates once I've found a ship—one with expert medical personnel on board—to collect Lt. Reed and Commander Tucker. Once R&D is done with the commander, we'll get him back to you. Have your doctor confer with Medical on what the lieutenant needs. Godspeed, Captain."

The line went dark. Archer felt this was the best outcome for Malcolm except that he'd had Hoshi literally in his head with him for nearly a year. Would his telepathy—it was still very odd to think of Malcolm that way—reach past the light-years between them? Or would he be lost in that silence? Would she? Hoshi had tried to commit suicide when she'd thought he had died. What would she do when she could no longer hear his voice inside her head?

For Hoshi, this was perhaps the worst outcome. No Malcolm, no parents, no family beyond her shipmates. Would it be enough to help her heal? Or would they lose her in the end?


It had all happened so fast, Hoshi was dizzied and so confused about how she felt. Their first date, together finally, a big bowl of ice cream. Then his heart attack sent her reeling with thoughts of his death—again—and how she couldn't bear it, not now that they had been rescued from Sharu, that he had survived past all expectations. Then relief that he was alive, fear that it wouldn't last, despair that they'd be separated—again—and that she couldn't go with him, couldn't see her parents. Fear for him dealing with his parents. They had broken his heart so many times before.

She didn't want a mission, not even for new languages. She wanted to be with him, or absent him, to rest, to talk to Phlox, to process what had happened so she could be healthier when they would be reunited again. She deserved that. She'd obeyed her duty on Sharu, never letting them know she could understand, so they would assume she was only as intelligent as their females, so they wouldn't ask her the questions they asked him after drugging him into submission.

She held his hand in hers as they moved him to the Vulcan ship, stood nearby as they got him set up on life support there. He looked peaceful, sedated as he was. He didn't even know, not yet, that he was going and she was staying. She worried about that. It wouldn't be good to just spring that on him.

"Wake him up," she told the Vulcan doctor. "Just for a bit. I need to say goodbye. He needs to say goodbye, to understand what is happening."

The Vulcan simply raised an eyebrow and watched her for a moment. "Sound reasoning," he finally replied, "for an emotional species." He adjusted the amount of sedative, and the tension returned to Malcolm's face.


Malcolm's thoughts came in a slow drip rather than a rushing torrent. He tried to turn those slow-moving thoughts to Hoshi, to the image of her face, or the sound of her voice. But the fear and the memories kept invading. He couldn't open his eyes without a lot of effort, but he vaguely felt the tubes, heard the beeps of machines keeping him alive. And that got him lost and confused. Was he safe on Enterprise or back in Zheiren? He didn't want to know; he was afraid of the question.

"Enterprise. Her voice. The answer. "Not Zheiren." Where that voice had been in his head, when it came again, it was in his ear and worth the effort to open his eyes. "But Malcolm, you're leaving Enterprise. You're going home to Earth, to heal, to get a new heart." He felt her hand in his. She touched his face.

There were tears in her eyes. You're coming?

She sniffed and stifled a sob. "I can't come with you," she said aloud. "I have to stay."

His eyes tried to close but he forced them open. I don't want to go without you. I love you.

"I love you, too," she thought back to him. "Get better, Malcolm. Talk to someone. You can't heal this alone. Not this time."

There was someone else. A Vulcan he didn't know. The man stopped beside Hoshi. "We'll be embarking in five minutes, Ensign."

Hoshi squeezed his hand and bent down to kiss his forehead. "Goodbye, Malcolm," she said openly. "Get well and come back to me." Then her hand was gone and she was walking away.

He watched her, willing his eyes to stay open until he couldn't see her anymore. Maybe they'd get lucky. Maybe he was telepath enough to reach her from Earth.

The Vulcan spoke to him. "I am Doctor V'Ret. You will be under my care for the duration of the voyage. We shall reach Earth in approximately twenty days by Earth's calendar."

"Oh, you're awake!" Trip. Malcolm turned his eyes to the door and found him.

"Be brief," V'Ret said. He walked away and Trip took his place.

Malcolm wanted to speak, to ask him why Hoshi had to stay, but he couldn't form the words. Then he realized the tube wasn't in his neck this time. His fear returned.

"Everything's gonna get better from here on out, Malcolm," Trip told him.

Malcolm hoped that was true, but, without Hoshi, he wasn't sure. The gravity in his eyelids won out this time and they closed. He tried to open them again but they refused.

Trip's voice was muffled and slow. "We'll be home before you know it." Trip. Trip was here. Hoshi was not. And then all was black oblivion.


On to Chapter 2....

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