He was coming.
The thought pounded through her brain as T'Pol struggled against the tide of mind-altering substances that had been fed into her body. Since her arrival … here, wherever here actually was, her captors had experimented with a wide variety of drugs in their attempts to find one that would function with her biochemistry, and as a result, she felt … disconnected, detached. Her control remained mostly intact and she suspected that she was lucid enough to resist their primitive attempts at interrogation, but this was still an uncomfortable experience.
T'Pol tried not to think of the similarity to when Silik had interrogated her. At least there was no pain. Yet.
She had only recently regained consciousness, although she'd spent several long minutes feigning a continued torpor while she struggled past the haze shrouding her mind to get her bearings. The cell was relatively luxurious in terms of physical size, but had only the chair she was firmly secured to and a wide, pockmarked table for furniture. A large, tinted window dominated the wall directly across from her and she presumed that there were Ekosians on the opposite side, observing and recording. Her cell was lit by a single, gas-powered lamp in the far corner that was belching a steady stream of mostly odorless smoke that vanished into the cracks in the ceiling. The stench of old sweat and fear was heavy in the room, and T'Pol thought she could detect the faint tang of iron-based blood. Even to her dulled perceptions, this room had ominous connotations and she was silently grateful that they had not yet stripped her clothes from her body. That would come later, once the initial interrogation ended and the physical coercion began.
But none of that truly mattered, because he was coming. And nothing would stop him.
The sole person in the cell with her was a stocky Ekosian male, with graying hair and piercing blue-green eyes. He was a large man, perhaps a few centimeters taller than Trip, and the lines time had carved in his face indicated that he had led a harsh life. His uniform was more elaborate than any T'Pol had seen before, with curious decorations and highly polished buttons that sparkled in the limited lighting in this tiny room. In his gloved hands, he held a beautifully carved wooden stick that he periodically trapped underneath his arm in what she took to be a nervous gesture. Despite the man's age – she put him at the Ekosian equivalent of Soval or perhaps Admiral Forrest – his posture was superb and he appeared to be in surprisingly excellent physical shape.
"I know you are awake," the Ekosian interrogator announced. He circled her chair, his hand gripping the stick secured under his arm. "May I presume that you speak my tongue?"
"You may," T'Pol rasped. She tried to focus her eyes on the male, but her vision swam.
"Excellent." He paused in front of her. "I am Staff-Adjutant sut'Tanaros Mikal Ferran." When she did not reply, he frowned. "It is customary in my culture to introduce one's self in return."
"I am su'Vulcan T'Pol Tucker," T"Pol replied through thick lips. She did not intentionally mispronounce her homeworld or Trip's surname, but both sounded unusual even to her ears.
"How much of that is even true, I wonder," Ferran mused. He resumed pacing around her, smacking the stick against his left palm for emphasis as he spoke. "No one of this world has ears shaped thus," he said, "or blood that color." The staff-adjutant – she was not sure what the equivalent was. Fleet Admiral, perhaps? Commodore? It was certainly greater than captain – paused behind her and used the end of the stick to brush her hair aside to reveal her ear. "Are you even truly female?" he wondered. The question required no answer, so T'Pol remained silent. "We will discover your truths soon enough," Ferran continued, resuming his slow circle. "I have learned men waiting to open you up and see if your organs are the same as the others."
"Others?" The word escaped T'Pol's lips before she could stop them, and the staff-adjutant leaned toward her, a dark smile on his face.
"Yes," he said simply. "They came here during my father's father's time like all of your kind do, to steal and murder and rape, but we threw them down in the salt." His eyes were cold as they tracked over her face. "You do not share their coloring," he added, "though their blood was just as green as yours." He reached out with his gloved left hand and gripped her jaw, tilting her head back and forth. "Is it age that darkens your skin to that color?" he asked. "Or are only the menfolk of your kind green?"
T'Pol blinked. Orions. He was speaking of Orions. She considered this revelation for a long moment, but did not reply. The man was … what did the humans call it? Ah, yes. He was 'fishing' for information and she had no desire to give him more than necessary. In the end, it would not matter.
Because he was coming.
"It is of little importance," Ferran decided as he let her go and straightened. "We shall know your secrets soon enough."
"You are very confident," T'Pol remarked.
"And why should I not be?" the staff-adjutant demanded. "I have the stone!" T'Pol frowned at the unfamiliar expression, but Ferran continued. "We own you and the skycraft your men sent you to retrieve and when we unlock its truths, all will kneel before the Tandos Alliance and acknowledge us their master."
Skycraft? T'Pol narrowed her eyes and wished she could concentrate. If only he would arrive and take her away from this place. She knew he was coming – with each second, the subtle beat of his mind drew incrementally closer – but … skycraft? Could that mean starship? She looked up and pushed through the haze that had enveloped her thoughts. This man … this staff-adjutant knew things and she needed to focus on drawing that knowledge out rather than letting herself ruminate on the intoxicating taste of the one drawing ever so close.
"I was sent to retrieve nothing," she said, gambling on her initial impression of this man. He reminded her of many Andorians she had encountered over the years and not a few Vulcans as well: belligerent and not nearly as intelligent as he thought he was. Vanity was also a weakness of his if the overly ostentatious uniform he wore was any indication. Sentients like this man were excessively proud of their accomplishments, no matter if they were many or few, and greatly desired to boast.
She was not disappointed.
"You deceive!" Ferran exclaimed. "Why else would you come here if not to retrieve what was lost?" Once more, he leaned closer and T'Pol's nostrils flared at his disagreeable scent. "We will never give it to you," the Ekosian hissed. "Never!"
"Never is a very long time," T'Pol replied calmly.
Ferran straightened and sat back against the table. He tapped the stick against his thigh in such a way that T'Pol doubted he was even aware of the action. For her part, T'Pol returned his gaze with an expression she hoped hinted at utter disinterest.
"You have one chance at survival, creature," the staff-adjutant began after a moment. "Cooperate with us and I can ensure your safety. What say you?"
"I say that you have the sound of a desperate man," T'Pol replied flatly. "You have promised your masters results that you cannot produce," she guessed and, from the gratifying way the staff-adjutant's eyes widened, she was right. "Have you given them dreams of skyships the likes of which you captured by happenstance?" Ferran's face darkened with fury, but T'Pol could not have stopped if she wanted to. Apparently, some combination of the drugs she had been given had loosened her tongue somewhat. "That technology is hundreds of cycles beyond you," she stated coolly. Her control fractured and she offered him a slight, mocking smile. "Can you even understand the basic theories behind the least of its functions?"
"I would keep my teeth together were I you," Ferran snarled, jabbing the wooden stick against her sternum. T'Pol suspected it was supposed to hurt, but with the drugs coursing through her veins, she barely noticed. "I can turn you over to my physicians sooner than later, creature," the Ekosian man threatened. His face a riot of emotion, he stormed to the door, yanked it open and exited, sealing her in. T'Pol relaxed in her seat and closed her eyes to block out any visual stimuli as she focused on the angry voices she could hear.
"How could she know these things?" a feminine voice was demanding. Panic was in this woman's tone. "She looked at you and knew your mind!"
"Do not be absurd," Ferran replied. He sounded confident, but there was the faintest tremor to his words that belied the appearance he meant to project. T'Pol fought to keep from smiling at that – she had apparently shaken him with her wild guess, which could be both a benefit and a threat. He appeared to be a powerful man normally, and those in authority rarely appreciated being challenged in any way. It was a universal constant. "She is wily, like a fetch from the old tales, but nothing more."
"We should not risk ourselves with this … creature," a third voice announced. He sounded old, as if he was well into the twilight of his years, and if the woman had sounded fearful, he was positively petrified. "Kill it now."
"No." The staff-adjutant's reply was firm, unyielding. "We need the truths she hides if we mean to gain entrance to this skyship. And I mean to peel them from her."
"It," the old man corrected. "Do not be swayed by its form. That creature is not of this world and should be destroyed as such."
The three continued to bicker for some time after that, each basically rephrasing the same thing they had already stated while using different words, but T'Pol paid only scant attention and instead reflected on what she had learned. They had in their possession a starship and had not yet discovered how to enter it, which could imply any number of things. Orions were not known to be particularly impressive shipbuilders, but given their predilection for piracy and theft, the origin of the craft could be any number of species. Ferran stated that it came during his first forefather's time, which T'Pol estimated was likely a minimum of thirty years ago and a maximum of eighty or ninety given the likely life expectancy of Ekosians with this level of technology. Depending upon the vessel, it was possible the reactor was still capable of providing power. And if they could locate this mystery starship, it could mean one thing.
Ferran returned several minutes later and resumed his attempts at interrogation, but T'Pol said nothing else and instead simply watched him with an impassive stare as his ire steadily grew over her continued silence. The tickle in her mind grew in strength until it was a raging torrent – he was so close now! – and T'Pol allowed her lips to curl upward. The change in her expression momentarily gave Ferran pause, and he was on the verge of completely losing his temper when the sound of activity outside the cell drew both of their attention. The staff-adjutant gave her another sour look before heading toward the door.
"We are not done, creature," he said over his shoulder, clearly intending for his words to sound like a threat. T'Pol was not intimidated, though.
Because her mate had arrived.